Round Table India
"I had none of the conditioning that a normal, middle class Indian girl would have. I had no father, no presence of this man telling us that he would look after us and beat us occasionally in exchange. I didn't have a caste, and I didn't have a class, and I had no religion, no traditional blinkers, no traditional lenses on my spectacles, which are very hard to shrug off...So don't mess with me." ~ Arundhati Roy, Writer and Distinguished Introducer to Dr Ambedkar's AoC, in a 2009 interview.
As Karthik Navayan, human rights activist, says, 'we are not going to demand a ban on the book' nor 'burn the book'. The objectives, broadly, of the protests against the new 'annotated critical edition' of Babasaheb Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste, introduced by Arundhati Roy, have been to question the efforts at appropriation of this inestimable resource of anti-caste knowledge and its commercialization through deploying a writer who doesn't have any record of engaging with caste, especially its structural aspects, in her over two decade long writing career. As is evident from earlier articles on this very portal, no demands for imposition of any kind of curbs on the book were ever made – so where do these 'protests' against the protests stem from? Please read a few of them below.
"Controversy is brewing over author and social activist Arundhati Roy's visit to Hyderabad on Sunday to mark the launch of an annotated edition of B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste. A section of Dalit activists from the city are demanding a ban on the book and are planning protests at the launch venues." ~ The Hindu.
"Of course I've several issues. Also with how the entire 'debate' is being conducted online—where AR and I are being held responsible for all rapes, murders of dalits". ~ S. Anand, Publisher, Navayana.
"I was in Hyderabad recently and was seriously appalled to hear that Arundhati's piece is apparently being construed by some as being demeaning of Ambedkar and 'devoting more space to Gandhi'. If this is indeed the nature of the criticism that is being made the pretext for the denial of permission, it is a travesty of reason and a deliberate, mischievous misreading of her article, not much unlike the Hindutvavadi's misreading of Doniger." ~ Kavita Krishnan, Member, Central Committee, CPI (ML) - Liberation.
"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. The (sic) Annihilation of Caste was written for the upper castes, meant to be addressed to them." ~ Shivam Vij, Associate Editor at Scroll.in
"No matter how far one tries to hide beneath progressive labels, the deep-seated misogyny against Roy is palpable. Why should she speak? What are her credentials? How can she enter our space? How dare she? Who does she think she is?"
I at least am glad she's around to ruffle many different feathers and puncture several male egos."
"Any thoughts over the current silence on Devyani Khobragade now that her husband has been accommodated in JNU and her children have been discovered to be citizens of two countries? What next? Bharat Ratna?" ~ Uday Chandra, Researcher, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany.
"Identity politics of any kind, be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Dalit, Caste based or Ethnicity based or Nationalist (of any variety), can never be good news for the freedom of expression or enquiry. The politics that glamourizes victimehood, injured honour and sentiment is antithetical to a politics fashioned out of intelligence, sanity, liberty and ethics". ~ Shuddhabrata Sengupta, media pactitioner.
"Those hoping to hear acclaimed author Arundhati Roy speak, were in for a big disappointment. Fearing "backlash from right wing activists and caste-based groups," the organisers decided to call off the event featuring the controversial author at the nth hour on Sunday". ~ Times of India
"Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time everywhere" ~ George W. Bush, Statesman.
Disclaimer: Most of these quotes are either by Brahmin or Savarna intellectuals, writers etc.. Most contain grave factual errors. The last quote is by the former President of the United States of America.
Introducing Arundhati Roy and Friends: Karthik Navayan
A tale of two prefaces: by Karthick RM
Between Savior and Seller: Critiquing Preface Politics: by Praveena Thaali
A Glass Menagerie for the Bahujans—Annihilation of Caste and Gandhi's Wards: by James Michael and Akshay Pathak
Stigmatizing Dalits, From the Wadas to the Web: by Nilesh Kumar
Caste in the Name of Christ: An angry note on the Syrian Christian Caste: by Nidhin Shobhana
The Not-So-Intimate Enemy: The Loss and Erasure of the Self Under Casteism: by Gee Imaan Semmalar
Flaunting noble intentions, nurturing caste privileges: by Asha Kowtal
The Question of Free Speech: by Vaibhav Wasnik
An Open Letter to Ms. Arundhati Roy: by Dalit Camera
The Judge, the Jury and the Goddess: by Akshay Pathak
Resisting a messiah: by Anoop Kumar
Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.