Why Ambedkar had to reject the Gandhian model

A new edition of The Flaming Feet, a collection of essays on and around B.R. Ambedkar by the late Bangalore University professor D.R. Nagaraj—“the foremost non-Brahmin intellectual to emerge from India’s non-English-speaking world”—has just been published by Permanent Black.

Edited and introduced by his former student Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, a Mysorean who is on the faculty of the department of humanities at San Francisco State University, the book has been hailed by the historian Ramachandra Guha as the most important work of non-fiction in 2010.

A Nagaraj nugget, quoted in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Babasaheb [Ambedkar] had no option but to reject the Gandhian model. He had realized that this model had successfully transformed Harijans as objects in a ritual of self-purification, with the ritual being performed by those who had larger heroic notions of their individual selves.

“In the theatre of history, in a play with such a script, the untouchables would never become heroes in their own right, they were just mirrors for a hero to look at his own existentialist anger and despair, or maybe even glory.”

Read the full article: Contending visions

Also read: ‘Harijans had Ambedkar, Girijans have Naxals’

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