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Annihilation of Caste
Introduced by Arundhati Roy, edited and annotated by S. Anand
Release date: 1 November 2015
B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste is one of the most important, yet neglected, works of political writing from India. Written in 1936, it is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. Ambedkar—a figure like W.E.B. Du Bois—offers a scholarly critique of Hindu scriptures, scriptures that sanction a rigidly hierarchical and iniquitous social system. The world’s best-known Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, responded publicly to the provocation. The hatchet was never buried.
Arundhati Roy introduces this extensively annotated edition of Annihilation of Caste in “The Doctor and the Saint”, examining the persistence of caste in modern India, and how the conflict between Ambedkar and Gandhi continues to resonate. Roy takes us to the beginning of Gandhi’s political career in South Africa, where his views on race, caste and imperialism were shaped. She tracks Ambedkar’s emergence as a major political figure in the national movement, and shows how his scholarship and intelligence illuminated a political struggle beset by sectarianism and obscurantism. Roy breathes new life into Ambedkar’s anti-caste utopia, and says that without a Dalit revolution, India will continue to be hobbled by systemic inequality.
Praise for Annihilation of Caste:
For the 1930s, Annihilation of Caste was a case of marvellous writing with conceptual clarity and political understanding— something the world should know about. The annotations illumine the whole book. Roy’s essay has the sharp political thrust one has come to expect from her. UMA CHAKRAVARTI, AUTHOR OF EVERYDAY LIVES, EVERYDAY HISTORIES: BEYOND THE KINGS AND BRAHMANAS OF 'ANCIENT' INDIA AND PANDITA RAMABAI: A LIFE AND A TIME
Arundhati Roy’s The Doctor and the Saint works both at an emotive and an argumentative level. She manages to convey an intimate and deeply felt sensitivity to the history that produced Annihilation of Caste. Her essay is both well documented and closely argued. The annotations do an excellent job of providing supplementary information, corroboration and relevant citations… A robust edition of an under-appreciated classic.PROFESSOR SATISH DESHPANDE, DELI UNIVERSITY
S. Anand’s annotations are very thorough and on the whole based on first-rate and current scholarship on South Asia and elsewhere. Their tone and style will appeal to a scholarly as well as lay audience … an important accomplishment. Arundhati Roy’s essay is punchy, eye-opening and provocative.THOMAS BLOM HANSEN, DIRECTOR, STANDFORD'S CENTRE FOR SOUTH ASIA