martedì 16 gennaio 2018

Arundhati about Gandhi

I had already written about "Annihilation of caste" by B.R. Ambedkar with introduction of Arundhati Roy in a previous post. At that time there was only the English edition (Ed. Navayana) that I had obtained in Mumbai, now, thanks to Editrice Castelvecchi, you can read the volume in Italian and I highly recommend it.
The book is important not only to understand a little more the meaning of varnasrama dharma, the caste system in India, but also to have a slightly more critical view of Gandhi's thought and work with respect to the hagiographic vision that it is imposed in the world.
I do not go back to talk about the enlightened speech never pronounced by Ambedkar (1936) so I refer to the old post, wanting to dwell on what A. Roy supports Gandhi in order to some issues such as race and caste. Positions for which Roy defines polemically Gandhi "the saint of the status quo".
It is well known that Gandhi was absolutely convinced that the traditional social organization of India was an absolutely functional system responding to the needs of everyone and on caste thought that "the vast organisation of caste answered too only the religious wants of the community, but it answered too its political needs. The villagers managed their internal affairs through the caste system , and through it they dealt with any oppression from the ruling power o powers" and again "I believe that if the Hindu society has been able to stand, it is because it is founded on the caste system ... To destroy the caste system and adopt the Western European social system would means that Hindus must give up the principle of hereditary occupation which is the soul of the caste system."
Gandhi belived that there should be no hierarchy between castes, that all castes should be considered equal and that avarna castes should be brought into caste system. But it is very difficult to support the equality of a latrine cleaner, who is a latrine cleaner because he was born of another latrine cleaner, who can marry only with a latrine cleanser and whose children will be latrine cleaners ... with a man of priestly caste, a merchant or even a peasant or a worker.
The Roy puts in a different light from that traditionally believed, even the famous South African story of Gandhi chased by the train carriage First Class because not white.
"Gandhi - writes Roy - was not offendet by racial segregation. He was offended that passenger indians who had come to South Africa to do business, were being treayed on a par with native Black Africans. Gandhi's argument was that passengers Indians were British subjects and therefore had the right to equal treatment on the basis of Queen Victoria's 1858 proclamation.
And as evidence of the poor consideration that Gandhi had about kaffir (as blacks were called in South Africa), Roy recalls that one of Mahatma's first victories in that country was to get a third entry to the Durban Post Office which originally had only two doors one for "white" and the other for "blacks". The third entry was for the Indians, so that they were not forced to use the entrance intended for the "blacks".

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