Understanding B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste
This book offers a fresh and contemporary understanding of Ambedkar’s most crucial work on the subject of caste. Professor Sayeed argues that readings of Annihilation of Caste have often obscured or twisted its core. Biographical interpretations deploying Ambedkar’s identity, and historical expositions drawing on circumstances in Ambedkar’s time, have distorted the spirit and import of his unambiguous condemnation of caste.
By reflecting on a single seminal piece and offering an alternative view of it, this book shows the far-reaching implications and continuing relevance of Ambedkar’s thought – including for a proper perspective on Hindu nationalism. It shows the directions away from Ambedkar that caste politics and identity patrons have increasingly taken.
As against Mahatma Gandhi who advocated caste reform, Ambedkar believed genuine democracy was impossible without the eradication of caste. In clarifying their different approaches to aspects of Hinduism, this book helps us focus on the Indian future that Ambedkar himself desired.
Syed Sayeed is a retired professor of philosophy. His areas of interest include ethics, epistemology, philosophy of social sciences, political thought, and literature.
He is the author of Knowledge and Reality: Towards a Non-reductionistic View (1990). His singular life-objective, he says, is to exhort, persuade, and provoke people to think – sometimes against their will.
From the reviews
"Professor Sayeed demonstrates how, on the one hand, Ambedkar’s analysis of social inequality in India is more incisive (and wide-ranging) than that offered by the Marxists, and, on the other, how Ambedkar’s programme for transforming Hindu society is more thoroughgoing than that once advocated by the Gandhians."
In the Hedgehog and Fox series, copublished with Ashoka University
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