14 April, 2021

Seen Through Different Glasses

A controversial introduction to Annihilation of Caste reappears as a book. It reflects the elite Left’s opportunistic appropriation of Ambedkar.

Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Seen Through Different Glasses

Let’s talk about what Arundhati Roy doesn’t want to talk about: the ‘high-caste’ appropriation of Ambedkar. Not the appropriation that the Right has been engaging in over the last several years, clu­m­­sily saffronising him amidst mockery from the Left. I mean the fervent app­ropriation by the Left which, from 1970 to 2000, completely ignored Amb­edkar’s work. Dozens could be imp­licated, be it Partha Chatterjee, Ajay Skaria, Ananya Vajpeyi, Ashwarya Kumar, S. Anand...and the list goes on...from Ganguly, Sharma, Mishra, right up to Arundhati Roy (and yes, indeed, Aakash Singh Rathore).

Why refer to this lot as appropriators rather than as comrades in agitation? Bec­ause these Jai-Bhim-come-latelys pub­lish easily with Oxford, Harvard, Sta­nford, or in this case Penguin, while Dalit scholars continue to search in vain for acc­ess to high-impact presses. Because this is the lot who speak at litfests, give keynotes at conferences, who earn academic distinction and authority (and pseudo ‘street...

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