Short Book Review: Castes in India and Annihilation of Caste by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
SBR: I don’t intend to analyze the theories put forward by Dr. Ambedkar in these two pieces and leave such analysis to more scholarly people. I have my own layperson’s response (some agreements and some disagreements) to the things he says, but that is not the point of reading them either. The importance of works like these lies in their having a viewpoint which a large number of us have never been exposed to. We (and that includes not just savarnas, but a large number of Dalits too who have been through the same educational and official systems) don’t even imagine while growing up that the stand of someone like Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps not good enough on caste and untouchability issues. That there had been a case for prioritizing social reforms in Hindu society over political independence from the British. And that even now we think that certain social, political or economic choices we make as a nation are obviously correct when they aren’t so as soon as we look at the point of view of people “not like us”. It is to get rid of such institutionally-propagated blindness that reading Ambedkar is important.
To read or not to read: Yes.