Did Gandhi Want to “Annihilate Caste?” Revisiting the Ambedkar–Gandhi Debate

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.


Did Gandhi refuse to denounce the caste system?

"The Doctor and the Saint"—written by Arundhati Roy as an introduction to B R Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste—questions the deification of Gandhi, and whether his vision of an independent India included emancipation for all. 

Gandhi’s grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi wrote an article in 2015 as a response to Roy’s work, seeking to shed light on the Ambedkar–Gandhi relationship. Rajmohan wrote about the supposed “warmth” between the two, asserting that Gandhi was neither casteist nor racist, and that Roy’s only intention was to tarnish Gandhi’s legacy. 

Roy and Nandini Oza respond to Rajmohan Gandhi, contending that he has failed to adequately address the accusations levelled against his grandfather. Rajmohan Gandhi’s rejoinder ends the debate, responding to the main points of criticism. 

A few other works that have broadly responded to or are related to this discussion:

  1. Ambedkar and Gandhi: Limits of Divergence and Possibilities of Conversation. Suhas Palshikar, 2015
  2. Ethics in Ambedkar’s Critique of Gandhi. Gopal Guru, 2017
  3. Was Gandhi a ‘Champion of the Caste System’? Nishikant Kolge, 2017



Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at edit@epw.in with the subject line—“Opposing Untouchability, Upholding Caste Discussion.”


[Curated by Kieran Lobo (kieran@epw.in)]

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