There is no logic in the argument that to produce Dalit literature one should be born a Dalit (“An Ambedkar for our times,” April 2). Indeed, no one is born Dalit or upper caste. All are born humans with the caste tag affixed to them. Rather than arguing over which caste or to whom Dr. Ambedkar belongs to, it would be wise to respect him as the author of the Indian Constitution. Leaders like Gandhiji, Dr. Ambedkar and Mother Teresa do not belong to a particular region, religion or caste. They belong to the entire world.
T. Anand Raj,
The barrage of articles that have been recently written about Dr. Ambedkar all fall before Anand Teltumbde’s exposition. The article was well-intentioned. It has not only set the discourse in the right direction but also questioned the reductionist positions intellectuals often take while commenting about Dr. Ambedkar. More importantly, the article should now help intellectuals to treatise on Dr. Ambedkar’s vision rather than merely indulging in ‘who-is-saying-what about Ambedkar’ talk.
Annihilation of the caste system and emancipation not only of Dalits but all Indian citizens, are measures that will have ideological dimensions of a serious and positive kind.
Setting Dr. Ambedkar in a new and active paradigm that can help address contemporary caste issues and politics is the need of the moment. Any movement that envisions the real emancipation of humanity needs to recognise the true worth of human dignity unconditionally, irrespective of his or her birthplace or creed. It is unfortunate that mainstream intellectual indifference can really affect the prospects of Dalit emancipation.
Claiming Dr. Ambedkar as the sole possession of Dalits will only defeat the dream he envisaged, of bringing the lower castes to the same level as the upper castes. Dalit leaders should use Dr. Ambedkar’s ideology to bridge the divide between the so-called higher and lower castes.
The argument that only Dalits can understand and write about their problems might, on the face of it, appear to be correct. But even those belonging to the forward castes and backward classes have been known to empathise with the lot of Dalits. An example would be that of poet, activist and freedom fighter Subramanya Bharathi, who said that it is a sin to talk about the so-called superiority or inferiority of people. There is also nothing wrong in Arundhati Roy writing about important social problems. She has done her best; she is always known to be one who puts forth her views on important social issues without any fear of the consequences.
A. Michael Dhanaraj,