In those times when “Bharat Mata ki Jai” is forcefully shoved into every individual’s mouth to perhaps agitate the “children of India” and provoke true patriotism into masses to believe the presence of a just and unbiased India, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s undelivered speech written in 1936 supposed to be presented at the annual conference of Jat Pat Todak Mandal, an anti-caste Hindu reformist group based in Lahore; published as a book titled “Annihilation of Caste” must be reread. As there doesn’t exist a counter sloganeering as a counter discourse of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Because a national development lies in the vision of a leader who demanded a social democracy and not just a political one.
To closely look at Ambedkar’s vision for a genuinely independent India and to familiarize the reader with caste based hierarchies as it flies over India, writer-thinker-activist Arundhati Roy presents her book-length essay titled “The Doctor and the Saint.” What Roy does is pick the idea of Ambedkar from the textbooks as only an draftsman of the Indian constitution and place him in the radical scholarly intellectual resistance movement of emerging India.
The no non-sense approach followed by Ambedkar and radically cutting wit of Arundhati Roy can make believers out of firm nonbelievers. But caste is more than belief, more than a mere devotion – it is a “profound spiritual” seed sowed in the honourable cosmetic of an Indian individual and society. One powerful figure that has always supported the sprouting of this seed is the Mahatma Gandhi. Numerous intellectuals have demonstrated how Mahatama Gandhi has outgrown himself and why a critical study of Gandhi should not necessarily hurt Gandhians. In her article, Roy has written “Obama loves him and so does the Occupy Movement. Anarchists love him and so does the Establishment. Narendra Modi loves him and so does Rahul Gandhi. The poor love him and so do the rich.” Thus, a critique of Gandhi is possibly more troublesome than one can ever imagine. On the other hand Gandhi’s agreeing with caste is one that cannot be manipulated in any narrative that he is maneuvered into.
Gandhi wished to hold the caste segregation but also wanted untouchability annihilated. In any case, Ambedkar questions the materiality of caste – “why would a privileged give up on his treats to integrate what is historically othered?” The issue with caste is not only that it is supernaturally appointed (hence, unalterable) but that it is a fundamentally organised “division of workers” and not merely of work. This forms one of the fundamental and key moments in Ambedkar’s discourse.
Gandhi’s answer to every caste issue seems to be his reconsidered comprehension of the shastras while Ambedkar appeals to research the material state of the population and to pause meaningless pondering over the original meaning of the shastras. More importantly, Ambedkar requests an entire dismissal of Hinduism as a religion which he rather unjustifiably decreases to an arrangement of codes and laws
The reference of the doctor seems to remain for the cutting edge, logical, modern, dynamic, scientific, futuristic, progressive nation while the Saint is derided at as being out of date, unprogressively and relatively unintelligent. This contrast is maybe not the most thoughtful method for taking a look at two individuals who confined the consciousness of India’s freedom – surely one more than the other. On the other hand, there are loopholes in the industrialized almost modern India that Ambedkar imagined since it to a great extent cleared a way to capitalism and globalization – the very core of numerous Dalit movements across India.
One point that remained suspicious throughout the book was the question of the audience. Who the audience was? Who was Ambedkar writing for? S. Anand, who has edited and annotated the most recent version of the book, mentions in the beginning of his note that it “is a text in search of the audience it was written for.” To explain further, Roy states that Ambedkar pointed his arguments towards those Hindus who considered themselves radical and moderate and who Ambedkar called “the best of Hindus.” So the question truly stays with the reference to when are the best of Hindus going to arrive if at all they are supposed to do.