52 Oxford St
Talk by Dr. Dilip M. Menon, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
Topic: Masters and slaves: rethinking What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables (1945).
The talk will look critically at this statement of Ambedkar’s opposition to the politics of nationalism as embodied in the Indian National Congress and Gandhi. It is an excoriation of the bad faith represented by the nationalist policy of transforming the struggle for recognition by untouchables in India from a political strategy of separation into a guided one under the nationalist umbrella. Apart from a critique of ameliorative politics, Ambedkar offers a rejoinder to Gandhi’s fast of 1930 which put paid to the idea of separate electorates for untouchables as a guarantee of political equality. The epigraph to the book from Thucydides, “It may be your interest to be our masters, but how can it be ours to be your slaves”, introduces a radical reframing of the relation between nationalist leaders and the untouchables.