Caste

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Baba Sahab Ambedkar (1891-1956) can be in real sense termed a crusader against caste oppression and his active protest against past and contemporary forms of mistreatment and inequality of back ward classes in India has yielded the fruit of social change among dalits and other untouchables. His representing the agony and retaliation against the caste based exploitative system he led to a determined and competent struggle against untouchability. ‘The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar’ is a bunch of his major works, speeches, letters and memoranda. These writings are organized into eleven sections: recollections, memories, concepts, methodology, ideology, religion, caste, untouchability, identity, economics, nationalism, constitutionalism and law. The introduction by the editor Valerian Rodrigues, who is the associate professor at the centre for political studies at Jawaharlal Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, provides a quick look of his historic life, the framework and content of his writings, and the reasons for his growing importance in India over the years. Every section and excerpts included within it are introduced and endnotes support citations and incomplete references in the excerpts. Suggestions for further readings are offered through a classification of all his writings and speeches and writings on him and his work. The chronology of events anchors the context of the writings. The work is the first of its kind on Ambedkar and is a representative collection of the whole range of issues that engaged his attention. As the most comprehensive compilation on him and his works, this text is going to be a very vital reference for the students of subaltern school, sociology or dalit studies, etc,. Also the book is a valuable source for knowing an exploring Ambedkar thought regarding regressive oppression and discrimination on many grounds in Indian society. The book has 11 chapters and the sub chapter titled, Annihilation of Caste which I am reviewing, falls in the sixth chapter, “titled caste”. Review of the Chapter Caste is considered to be one of the core writings by Ambedkar. The book mentions that Gandhi recommended the annihilation of caste must be read by every reformer. Ambedkar argues that the caste system underwent certain changes over a period of his writings. Initially he argued that the characteristic of the caste was endogamy. He argued that social evils like sati, child marriage & prohibition on widow remarriage was the outcome of the caste. Further if a caste closed its boundaries, other castes also followed the same. The Brahmins closing themselves socially first gave rise to caste system. He emphasized on the ground character of caste but also discussed of other features such as division of labour, absence of inter-dining and the principle of birth.He also argued that the caste name in itself is an important feature which keeps the solidarity of caste intact. The graded inequality is the normative anchor of the caste system. He also argued that: ? Caste is an essential feature of the Hindu religion. ? He found Gandhi subscribing to caste initially and later opposing it by upholding Varna instead. ? Ambedkar felt that the principle underlying Gandhi’s conception of Varna is the same as of caste that is, assigning social agents on the basis of birth rather than work. ? And the solution of this all be it graded inequality, etc was the annihilation of caste. ? He Suggested Inter caste marriages and Inter dining; ? Heredity parenthood should go. But the initial issue here is that he himself felt that these suggestions would not be acceptable to Hindus and as these suggestions would not be acceptable to Hindus, so after 1930’s have gave up any hope of reforming Hinduism (P.27,) .During Ambedkar’s life time, caste with its purity pollution axis was more prevented which forced Ambedkar to consider caste as a hierarchical system and his consistent engagement in its eventual over throw. Ambedkar criticizes...
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