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

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Was Gandhi a Racist?

I thank Anil Nauriya for his valuable comments on my article “Was Gandhi a Racist?” I also thank him for drawing my attention to two “problems” in my article—first, a categorical mistake in counterpoising his position to the position of Roy and other scholars, and second, that I have denied or ignored the evolution in Gandhi’s outlook towards Black Africans. I also thank him for creating an opportunity for me to clarify my position.

Nauriya points out that I rightly understood his position that “Gandhi was initially influenced by racial prejudice but gradually outgrew it, and that there was an evolution in his position on this point even while he was in South Africa.” But according to him I made a mistake in placing his position as an “extreme” view and by counterpoising it to the other “extreme” represented by Arundhati Roy and others holding similar positions. For Nauriya this appears to be a categorical mistake. At the outset I would like to say that I use the word “extreme” neither for Nauriya’s position nor for Arudhati Roy’s position anywhere in my article. I simply mentioned the two positions held by two groups of scholars regarding Gandhi’s attitude towards Black Africans in the available literature. I tried to show that Nauriya evaluates Gandhi’s outlook towards Black Africans in a positive light and contrasted this with Roy who perceives it to be wrong to see changes in the writings of Gandhi towards Black Africans as an evolution. According to her, this transformation in Gandhi’s writings was part of his effort to rescue him from his past and make himself a South African hero. It is in this respect that I try to counterpoise Nauriya to Roy.

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