Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste

From Professor Frances Pritchett of Columbia, another stunning Internet resource: an online edition of Ambedkar's Annihiliation of Caste, which is based on a speech he gave in the 1930s. For those who don't know, Ambedkar was India's first high-profile Dalit ("untouchable") intellectual. He had a Ph.D. himself from Columbia, and was a major player in the independence struggle. He is also one of the primary framers of the Indian Constitution.

Pritchett's edition of his book is here.

It's fully annotated. Specific terms and names are hyperlinked and defined. Also searchable. This is about as good as it gets... It's almost a Wiki!

My only criticism is that she's using frames, so it's hard to link into the project -- you don't get unique URLs for each section.


Quizman said...

An interesting and controversial book on Ambedkar is 'Worshipping False Gods' by Arun Shourie. An interesting four part interview of Shourie (on that book) can be found here. The bottom of that web page has a link.

Quizman said...

An interesting and controversial book on Ambedkar is 'Worshipping False Gods' by Arun Shourie. An interesting four part interview of Shourie (on that book) can be found here. The bottom of that web page has a link.

Amardeep said...


I read most of the Shourie book in the spring when I was myself trying to learn a little more about Ambedkar.

I find his argument distressing -- indeed, a little repulsive -- but his command of a huge array of facts is something to be reckoned with. One of his main points, that Ambedkar was all too willing to work with the British, is quite well-documented in the book.

But it's nevertheless easy to argue with Shourie: if you were someone who believed, as Ambedkar did, that being ruled by Brahmins would be no different than being ruled by the British, wouldn't you also negotiate with whoever would give you the better deal?

Just a general thought.

bhatta said...

I agree that he may have been reluctant to support the freedom movement because of the reason you suggest, however, by doing so, he ran the risk of being completely marginalized in a post independence dispensation. I think the main event which made sure this did not happen was the pact between him and Gandhi in 1932.
I believe that Ambedkar's main contributions to India came during and after independence in his capacity as a lawyer. He was by far the most radical element in the cabinet for social reform, and he pushed for extensive reform of hindu civil law, making it largely secular. Nehru managed to get this done partly through his efforts, against the wishes of large sections of the congress party. Also, he played a significant role in the drafting of the constitution, and I suspect that a lot of the present affirmative action in India is a consequence of his pact with Gandhi.
Personally, I respect him greatly for what he did, and I don't think his support of the british must be held against him.

Quizman said...

Having read the transcripts of Constituent Assembly debates, and seen the damaging results thereof (including affirmative action, lack of uniform civil code), the browbeating of the sane voices in the debates for short-term fixes, I wonder if Ambedkar & his compatriots did more harm than good.

The best solution for discrimination is a free-market economy.

pennathur said...

Dr. Ambedkar is the most significant public intellectual of the 20th century. By choosing to play a part on the Indian stage, he opted out of what could have been a vastly more prominent role in the shaping of the post WW1 world. His writings reveal a great thinker and a mind of unsurpassed learning. If you must read Annihilation of Caste (AOC) you would do well to read "Thoughts on Pakistan". Of course if Ambedkar ever has repudiated parts or the whole of that latter document we will have nothing to say here. It would be interesting to judge the spectrum of politically active organisations in India by the standards that can be deduced from AOC. We may be in for some surprises. All those who admire him must read Dhananjay Keer's biobgraphy. Keer (if I am right) was himself a Dalit and has written biographies of Mahatma Phule, Tilak,(in Marathi), Gandhi and Savarkar. I have been thru the last two as well as the one on Ambedkar. The one on Savarkar isn't as good as the other two.

Anonymous said...

Arun Shourie is a man who has the habit of twisting facts and not showing them in proper light.
The only reason why we wrote this book was to please his RSS Bosses who made him a minister in the BJP led Govt., as such he owes his ministership to his hatred for Dr. Ambedkar.
One need not read deep into the book, one look at the introduction on the inside cover and you know his real intentions...here is a RSS stooge which hates the Mahatma (nearly) as much as they hate Ambedkar, but when it comes to deriding Ambedkar they use the Mahatma as a convinient pretext to attack him. The language used by shourie is nothing short of malafide and his intentions dishonest.

shallabh said...

Arun Shourie is right in what he quotes.He gives true facts from original sources.he doesn't have the habit of twisting tales my friend.There is no hatred to Dr.Ambedkar.Please read the books and the original books.
Indian History has been written by none other than leftists historians like romila thapar,the lefts Jnu brigades,etc.These authors have always misquoted the factsRead arun shouries books and the original texts and see if his interpretations are right.They will be right he is an honest man,but as we say we have democracy so views can vary accor. to the knowledge we prefer,the leftists tampered or original texts.
Jai Hind

Pradeep said...

Those who want to see how Shourie distorted the truth, read this excellent essays by Ramachandra Guha

Gandhis Ambedkar

Guha writes

....Worshipping False Gods... the motivated and dishonest book on Ambedkar and the Dalit movement published in 1997 by Arun Shourie. That work was a masterpiece of suppression and distortion.

"Today, B.R. Ambedkar is the only national, or at least pan-Indian, hero that we have. Patel is admired only in his native Gujarat, Bose hardly remembered except in his native Bengal. Azad is forgotten by Muslim and non-Muslim, Nehru vilified by left and right. While Gandhi is still admired, and to an extent followed, by some brave social activists, in the wider popular consciousness he has no serious impact any more"

Also read
The darling of the dispossessed


devendra said...

It is really absurd that after so many years still we criticize our great leaders with ill hearted,hatred.Of course no one is out of crticism,but we ought to do it with respect.Coming to Arun shourie's book, he completly misplace the whole scenario.Ambedkar throughout his life was a crusader against the upper cast mentality which is still the same and is further ignited by Arun shourie(RSS) type people.He fought for rights,previliages,goodwill of the sheduled caste/tribes which numberd 9 crore(about 1/3rd of the population at that time),which were kept aside from social, fundamental,economical rights.They were treated brutally in an extreme inhuman way giving foolish prepositions of holy books.He only raised voice of these peoples to both Britishers and cogressmen and help them accordingly to uplift these peoples.If helping these peoples, fighting for their rights which are also indians is not Patriotism then Arun shourie needs to redefine Patriotism.Ambedkar was well aware of the fact that only changing government will not help these people,Only fighting for their rights treting them equally can change it.And he was very much sucessful in his efforts.Hence he is the TRUE GOD and rightly WORSHIPPED.Every great leader including Pandit Nehru,Dr Rajendra Prasad,Dr Radhakrishnan really praised Ambedkar for his greatest work in framing Indian Constitution. Arun shourie think that he is greater than these leaders by saying that framing Indian constitution is a myth.Ambedkar fought for woman rights,backward classes and truly is a BHARAT RATNA.At least he was not like shourie who became pimp and sold his own mother(INDIA) in the name of librealisation,Privatisation. .
Savarkar himself exclamed that Ambedkar is a true geatest leader of india.If Ambedkar wanted to desrtoy india he could have easily embraced islam and now there would have been two Pakistan instead of one.He was not like Arun shourie and RSS who worked(and is working) anti-nation and killed Gandhiji.Shourie should also make clear stand of Hedgewar,govalkar,savarkar in indian freedom stuggle and rewrite a book.Where these mentor of shourie were really nationalist.He should clear his own stand that he is behaving like true patrotic.He should crticise Hinduism also, like Islam.

munivel said...

'But if the British were no longer strong enough to resist the forces which were clamouring for such transfer, Ambedkar declared, then his demand was that they make certain arrangements-- arrangements which we shall encounter repeatedly in his speeches and writings, the essential point about which was to tie down the new government of Independent India.'

The above para is quoted from arun shouri (an x-minister through rajasabha specially nominated for selling indian resources to US and UK against whom we conducted freedom fight for more than half a century). In this he points out about Dr.Ambedkar's demand to make certain 'arrangements-- arrangements'. If arun could explain what are all those arrangements and why those arrangements were required than his 'innocent' bhramin supporters will come to know why became Dr.Ambedkar is a true god. Arun knows about this 'true god' and it's impact but he wants to qualify himself as pimp minister in RSS government by writing such stupids. BJP lost all the five state assembly elections'2005. They could not even win a single seat out of ~850 seats of all the five states even after their hinduthva boast. BJP had alliance with 'anti-bhramin' DMK to get majority in parliment through which arun became pimp minister.
Partition of pakistan was supported by prominent hindutva leaders of that time. that is a big story.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ambedkar has lost election too. Does that mean he was wrong? Certainly not. If majority of the people think different from you, then that does not necessarily imply you are wrong. I would not base the greatness or the capability of anyone on any election results. Dr. Ambedkar had also stated (and published) before partition that if the then Muslim leaders asked for a separate country, the best course of action was to accept the partition. I have no doubt that Dr. Ambedkar was great, but that does not mean I agree with all of his ideologies. For example, I think that freedom of my country is more important than freedom of any percentage (less than 100) of people of my country. Also, I think that the policy of reservation of seats in education (introduced by Dr. Ambedkar) is not fair. Not only is it against meritocracy, but I think when someone gets a seat because of their caste, sex, religion or any other factor, then they should be bound to spend at least some time, efforts and/or money to help that cause (which got them the seat) in their future. Again, I may be wrong in my thinking so.

rohit said...

Ambedkar is of course a true god, he points out that Mahars supported Britishers does he points out Savarkar and RSS who supported Britishers in second world war?.Shourrie surely has a personal grudge as his father was slapped by Ambedkar, he has taken pain to find a belly out Ambedkar on the coverage I really understand his pain poor guy he is not in his senses.

lourdunathan said...

worshiping a false god by Arun Sh. seems to stem from a psycho pathology of intolerance and cultural hatred. if Ambedkar is 'false god' what about Rama, Ayodya, and whole ray of gods center staged for political ends. atleast Ambedkar is real god to be argued against or for, but these myths reproduced, how far they are 'reel' produced for a sway of political interests, better find some other stuff.