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

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Arguing against Inclusion

Arguing against Inclusion Anupama Rao IN a recent piece 'Gandhi-Ambedkar Interlace: When Shall the Twain Meet?' (EPW, August 3,1996), Suhas Palshikar has suggested that we locate Gandhi and Ambedkar within a common discursive field by highlighting their [Gandhi and Ambedkar's] intense commitment to emancipatory ideologies. He notes: "The discourses of Gandhi and Ambedkar were not antithetical. Therefore it is possible to think in terms of common concerns and potential grounds for dialogue between the two discourses" (p 2072). He argues that the problem of caste and the analysis of capitalism commonly perceived to be the two sites of major disagreement and divergence in Gandhian and Ambedkarite thought might actually contain nodes of convergence between the two thinkers. Palshikar asks that we go beyond the "assumption that Gandhi- Ambedkar clashes resulted from their personalities, as well as their respective positioning in the contemporary political contexts'' (p 2070), to focus on the "[visualisation] of a comunity based on justice and fraternity" (p 2072), that underwrote the Gandhian and Ambedkarite project(s). In brief, the author asks us to ignore the conditions of production that made these discourses possible, asking instead for a reading of Gandhi and Ambedkar as ideologues of emancipation. In this brief response, I suggest that Gandhi and Ambedkar's thought was situated within a historical and political context, and that evaluating them in terms of an abstract notion of emancipation is distorting. Further, Palshikar does not offer his re-evaluation in the spirit of proposing their interventions as viable for political action today. His interest in bringing these thinkers together is often confusing and contradictory, and does not serve to emphasise the political commitments, and the historical context, that underwrote their struggles.

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