ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Independence and Social Justice

The Ambedkar–Gandhi Debate

Taking exception to Arundhati Roy's "The Doctor and the Saint," this article seeks to add to our understanding of the B R Ambedkar-M K Gandhi debate. It does not attempt to analyse or assess the debate as such, disavowing any desire to confront either Gandhi or Ambedkar. But it makes no secret of the fact that it disagrees with Roy, going so far as to insinuate that the chief purpose of "The Doctor and the Saint" was to demolish Gandhi.

This piece is a response to Arundhati Roy’s “The Doctor and the Saint,” which appeared in March 2014 as an introduction to a new edition of B R Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, first published in 1936, but it also bears an indirect connection to the historic debate between Ambedkar and M K Gandhi, which took place during a period well removed from our times.

The two were involved in a positive, if impersonal, relationship during the 1920s. Though they did not meet each other in this period, Ambedkar appreciated Gandhi’s concern for the plight of Dalits and welcomed the method of satyagraha that he had introduced. However, the 1930s saw sharp, and, from a historian’s standpoint, revealing, exchanges between the two.

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