Saturday, July 19, 2014

Arundhati Roy = Nathuram Godse

....“The book is extremely important for Dalits and it not right to add footnotes to the book. We feel Arundhati Roy has diluted Ambedkar’s writing and there is every chance that the book might be misinterpreted......Roy has always been a Maoist sympathiser and has never been vocal on Dalit atrocities. So with that understanding, how can she write a foreword for the book?” ....

Roy and Godse are dwellers of distant planets so one has to be careful while drawing equations. She is THE leading global thinker while he was just a deluded terrorist. But it should be highlighted that Roy is a fan of Comrade Charu Majumdar (see below), a terrorist of equal or much higher caliber than Godse.

What unites Roy, Godse and Majumdar is deep-seated Gandhi-hatred, and to mock non-violence as a way to solve (big) societal problems. Perhaps it is because deep down we are all defined by our caste. Roy, Godse and Majumdar are all Brahmins who despise the upstart Vaishya/Baniya (Gandhi).
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....After acknowledging that Mazumdar's “abrasive rhetoric fetishses violence, blood and martyrdom, and often employs a language so coarse as to be almost genocidal”, Roy finds that despite all this blood lust Charu “was a visionary in much of what he wrote and said. The party he founded (and its many splinter groups) has kept the dream of revolution real and present in India. Imagine a society without that dream. For that alone we cannot judge him too harshly. Especially not while we swaddle ourselves with Gandhi's pious humbug about the superiority of ‘the non-violent way' ...
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As far as blood lust is concerned, while Majumdar argued in favor of "making shoes for the poor with the skin of rick people" (Bengali- dhonir chamray goriber juto), Godse wanted a Muslim mukt Bharat (muslim free India).

Now Roy has made many Dalit activists extremely unhappy (see below). They want her to shut up about Gandhi and also shut up about Ambedkar. This is primarily because Roy (as dalit activists see her) is a forward caste celebrity trying to cash in on Ambedkar. They are not interested in her certificates because of her lack of a (caste) certificate. Throwing stones at Gandhi is not going to change that equation.

We learn that the book launch (for The Annihilation of Caste in Hyderabad by AR) was cancelled because of opposition from Dalits? We would expect S Anand (publisher) to scream out when there is attack on free speech on HIS own book. Before he and other left-liberals shout wolf again they will need to tell us why one form of censorship is bad, while others are benign.
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You would think, therefore, that Dalit intellectuals would only be happy that Arundhati Roy is engaging with that text, that leading English language magazines are telling the world about it, that we need to read Ambedkar, and explaining why.

Strangely, some Dalit radicals and intellectuals have a problem with Arundhati Roy reading, learning from and expounding about Ambedkar. On March 9, Roy was to be in Hyderabad to launch the book. But the event was cancelled because the publisher feared protests from Dalit radicals who have been upset about the book. The Hindu quoted some of them:


“The book is extremely important for Dalits and it not right to add footnotes to the book. We feel Arundhati Roy has diluted Ambedkar’s writing and there is every chance that the book might be misinterpreted. Roy has always been a Maoist sympathiser and has never been vocal on Dalit atrocities. So with that understanding, how can she write a foreword for the book?” asked J. Srinivas, state co-convenor for the Dalit Shakti programme, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Hyderabad.

Renowned author and lawyer Bojja Tarakam, who will be the guest at the event, also plans to raise objections regarding the content. “Most of the preface is about Gandhi, rather than Ambedkar. What is the need to write so much about him?” Mr. Tarakam said. However, he opposed any kind of curbs on the release of the book and felt it should be released in order to facilitate healthy discussion on the subject.

In other words, Dalit intellectuals think it is their right, by virtue of their caste, to decide whether a Maoist sympathiser can write on Ambedkar; whether one can write on the Ambedkar debate with Gandhi; or whether one is allowed to write more words in criticism of Gandhi than in praise of Ambedkar. Annihilation of Caste was written for the upper castes, meant to be addressed to them.


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Arundhati Roy, the Booker-prize-winning author who likes to shock us periodically with her outlandish statements, is now in the business of rubbishing Gandhi. She is sailing in the same boat as Babasaheb Ambedkar - and Nathuram Godse, one might add. For Roy, Gandhi is Caste Bigot, not Mahatma.
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Godse put bullets into the Mahatma because he was allegedly too pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu; Roy wants to erase the name of Gandhi from every institution that currently carries it because, she says, Gandhi was an out-and-out casteist.
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According to this Times of India report, Roy, speaking in the memory of the late Dalit leader Mahatma Ayyankali at Kerala University, said universities named after Gandhi should be renamed. Her reference was probably to Mahatma Gandhi University, a leading educational institution in God's Own Country.
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The newspaper quotes Roy as excoriating Gandhi for an essay he wrote in 1936 titled The Ideal Bhangi to prove that Gandhi was casteist and patronising towards Dalits. Today nobody would use the word “bhangi” without inviting the charge of gross political incorrectness, but Gandhi lived in politically incorrect times. Much of Ambedkar's writings on caste and religion too would not pass muster in today's identity-charged political discourse.
 

Arundhati Roy also despises Gandhi for his idealism.

There is some validity to the caste charge levelled against Gandhi. He was a social conservative keen to reform caste, not annihilate it. Ambedkar was irritated by Gandhi's claim that caste was not central to Hinduism but a sin committed by caste Hindus for which they must atone. Many Dalits also see Gandhi's decision to call “untouchables” Harijans as condescending and obnoxious.

Gail Omvedt, another writer influenced by Marxist thinking, explains Gandhi's approach thus: “Gandhi was not simply a devoted Hindu, but also a fervent believer in his idealised version of ‘varnashrama dharma.' He felt that what he considered to be the benign aspects of caste - its encouragement of a certain kind of solidarity - could be maintained while removing hierarchy and the extreme evil of un-touchability. This was in fact the essence of his reformism.” Ambedkar saw caste as the very basis of evil, which needed to be excised completely from the body politic.

Godse, a Brahmin, had views on caste that Gandhi would not have disapproved of. In his trial statement, he says that he “worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus are of equal status as to rights, social and religious, and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession….I used publicly to take part in organised anti-caste dinners which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Chamars and B-----s participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each other.”

The interesting point is Godse hated Gandhi for his “appeasement” of Muslims while Arundhati Roy criticises Gandhi for his alleged casteism. Godse wanted Gandhi excised from this world, Roy wants Gandhi excised from public memory for espousing the evil of caste.

Despite present-day antagonisms between Ambedkarites and Gandhians, it is doubtful if Ambedkar himself, unlike Roy, would want Gandhi forgotten, though he would certainly want him removed from a pedestal.

But if so far Roy's views are analogous to Ambedkar's, she seems to despise Gandhi as much for his impractical idealism. In contrast, she can forgive the murderous ideas of Naxal theoretician Charu Mazumdar for being a visionary. This is what she wrote some years ago about her travels in Naxal-land titled, “Gandhi, but with guns.”

After acknowledging that Mazumdar's “abrasive rhetoric fetishses violence, blood and martyrdom, and often employs a language so coarse as to be almost genocidal”, Roy finds that despite all this blood lust Charu “was a visionary in much of what he wrote and said. The party he founded (and its many splinter groups) has kept the dream of revolution real and present in India."


"Imagine a society without that dream. For that alone we cannot judge him too harshly. Especially not while we swaddle ourselves with Gandhi's pious humbug about the superiority of ‘the non-violent way' and his notion of Trusteeship: ‘The rich man will be left in possession of his wealth, of which he will use what he reasonably requires for his personal needs and will act as a trustee for the remainder to be used for the good of society.'”

Put another way, Charu's murderous idealism was fine, but not Gandhi's.

Roy's views, in fact, are in sync with what Godse himself had to say about Gandhi, who said: “He (Gandhi) was, paradoxical as it may appear, a violent pacifist who brought untold calamities on the country in the name of truth and non-violence.”


Just as Roy ridicules Gandhi's idealism about trusteeship, Godse mocks Gandhi's ideas of non-violence thus: “His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence, which he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened person could object to these slogans." 


"In fact there is nothing new or original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement. But it is nothing but a dream if you imagine the bulk of mankind is, or can ever become, capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life…In fact, honour, duty and love of one's own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust.”

Roy eulogises Charu for his revolutionary ideals, even if achieved through violence. But Gandhi's idealism pursued without violence is “humbug.”

It would appear that if Godse had only been a murderous Marxist, Roy would have approved of his act.

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Link(1): http://www.firstpost.com

Link(2): http://scroll.in/article/658279/Why-Dalit-radicals-dont-want-Arundhati-Roy-to-write-about-Ambedkar

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regards