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Democratic Debate on Appropriation of Ambedkar Writings on 10th April 2014

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Democratic Debate on Appropriation of Ambedkar Writings

Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, Cellar

10th April 2014.

5:30 PM

Dear Friends

All of you are aware about the ongoing discussion on the issue of publication of Dr B.R.Ambedkar Annihilation of Caste by Navayana Publications with an introduction of Arundhati Roy and annotations by S. Anand of Navayana.

Ambedkar’s writings are not patented to anyone caste, community or individual. Every thinker and scholar has every right to write about Ambedkar and interpret his ideas and express their own views. When  the Brahmanical society suppressed Babasaheb’s thoughts for several decades, it is the Dalit intellectual and activist community kept the memory of Ambedkar alive and made Ambedkar’s thoughts available to Indian society. It is ironic that Nayayana publishers tell the Dalit community that Ambedkar belongs to “all”

The “all” are the upper castes who are appropriating Ambedkar today without any engagement with Dalit struggles and Ambedkar ideology. We believe that no one has any right to appropriate Ambedkar; no one has any right to judge Ambedkar and interpret Ambedkar as a junior partner to Gandhi.  We were shocked to see the new edition of Annihilation of Caste published by Navayana

This edition includes  160 pages of irrelevant text to the original text of Annihilation of Caste. Arundhati Roy   compares  Ambedkar with Gandhi and S. Anand annotated Annihilation of Caste All these additions made  it a book of more than 500 pages and  is now priced at 550/-. Annihilation of Caste is a small booklet of 60 pages  in original and it is widely available in Indian languages as well as in English at a very cheap rate or free of cost.   The original English version of Annihilation of Caste is freely available on the internet for download.

There are many issues. We want a democratic debate on the issue of publication of Annihilation of Caste in a manner that undermined its historical significance.   We want to ask the publisher and Arundhati Roy “Are you a genuine supporters of the Dalit cause?”, “If so, will you consider detaching the introduction “ the Doctor and the Saint” from Annihilation of Caste and publish it as a separate book?” and  “Will you  stop  distribution of book in the present form”

 We invite you to be part of the programme, please come and join us


  1. Bojja Tharakam
  2. Kancha Ilaiah
  3. U Sambashivarao

Other participants

Gogu Shyamala, Anoop Kumar, GV Rathnakar, Karthik Navayan, Jilukara Srinivas, Kasukurty Ramalingam, Pasunuri Ravindar, Joopaka Subhadra Battula Ramprasad and many other scholars, activists and thinkers will join in this programme

Committee Against Appropriation of Ambedkar Writings (CAAAW)


  1. meera velayudhan says:

    There should be a debate on what/if Arundhati has argued, rather than name calling, and also involve her in the dialogue, which is what it is. It is also about building alliances and support, even when there are differences.the greater danger is appropriation of radical histories of dalits by rightwing Hindutva forces. Modi was invited by the Kerala Pulaya Mahajana Sabha in a mass rally in Cochin on 9 Feb,2014.Modi did not say a word about his per ‘development’ but spoke of Ambedkar, Ayyankali, Sree Narayana Guru, as though they are all in the same plane and part of Hindutva tradition. Also he met 70 representatatives of 30 caste organizations. He played his divisive card to the full, opposing reservations for dalit Christians and muslims, as per Mishra Com. report and said that, this would take away ‘the privileges Ambedkar ensured’ for dalits. The appropriation of radical histories of dalits by upper caste dominated BJP and Hindutva organizations is the most pressing hallenges and danger today. meera velayudhan

    • Dr. Anirudh Deshpande says:

      I agree with what Meera has written. Ambedkar’s opinion of the Hindu Mahasabha, an ancestor of today’s BJP, and his warning against the tendency of assimilation to Hinduism visible among some dalits must be taken seriously. Further, the allegation that Roy’s introduction to the annotated Annihilation of Caste compares Gandhi with Ambedkar is only partially true. Although there is nothing wrong in comparing the two what Roy actually presents in her inimitable style is a damning indictment of Gandhi on the caste question. Such a deconstruction of this “Saint” was long overdue from the pens of India’s professional historians. Roy has written a splendid essay which, inter alia, proves that there is no firewall between the views of Gandhi and Narendra Modi on the issue of dalit education and emancipation.

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