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

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Ethics of Reading Ambedkar’s Text


In the past decade, one witnesses a boom1 in the production of academic works on the texts written by B R Ambedkar. It is necessary to demonstrate some degree of cognitive generosity and welcome such ‘‘productive practice’’ as it is expected to enhance the material, if not spiritual, presence of these texts on Ambedkar. However, the production and sale of these copies may go up but one is not sure whether such bumper production would lead scholars to enhance the quality of debate on the original works by Ambedkar. One is again sceptical whether such intellectual enterprise would lead to a perceptive readership or scholarship in Ambedkar Studies. Similarly, and most importantly, one is not sure whether such a productive enterprise would contribute to shaping and sharpening political understanding of the activists.

Scepticism may seem cynical but does this cynicism not stand on the grain of truth? Ambedkar’s texts and texts on his works have been getting scholarly reception from readers and indifference from political activists who do not need serious reflection on Ambedkar’s ideas as his ideas have been reduced to a simple self-serving slogan. This is evident from the absence of any worthwhile scholarly debate over Ambedkar’s texts.2 In the past, Ambedkar’s texts, particularly Riddles in Hinduism, did face some ill-informed opposition by the socio­political forces that hardly have any interest in serious debates. If this is the case, should we not raise some pertinent questions that are necessary to understand the nature of the work that is being done by scholars on the texts of Ambedkar? What is the intellectual character of the work on Ambedkar’s texts? Why does it fail to produce creative mediation between Ambedkar’s texts with the ethical sensibility of the reader and political practice by the activists? What exactly is the ethical relation of the texts by “Ambedkar scholars’’ with the determinate self (untouchable) that forms the core of Ambedkar’s texts? Arguably, one could answer these questions by adopting at least two modes, namely fashion and fascination, which scholars seem to have adopted in order to access Ambedkar’s texts.

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Updated On : 15th Apr, 2021
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