This book reconstructs the philosophical issues informing the debate between the makers of modern India: Ambedkar and Gandhi. At one level, this debate was about a set of different but interconnected issues: caste and social hierarchies, untouchability, Hinduism, conversion, temple entry, and political separatism. The introduction to this book provides a brief overview of the engagements and conflicts in Gandhi and Ambedkar's central arguments. However, at another level, this book argues that the debate can be philosophically re-interpreted as raising their differences on the following issues:
Ambedkar and Gandhi’s contrary conceptions of the self, history,itihaas, community and justice unpack incommensurable world views. These can be properly articulated only as very different answers to questions about the relationship between the present and the past. This book raises these questions and also establishes the link between the Ambedkar--Gandhi debate in the early 20th century and its re-interpretation as it resonates in the imagination and writing of marginalized social groups in the present times.
1. Chapter 1. Introduction: A Brief History of the Gandhi--Ambedkar Debate.- Chapter 2. Memory, Humiliation, Oppression: Untouchability and Dalit Self-Identity.- Chapter 3. The Individual and the Religious Community: On Religion and Conversion.- Chapter 4. Individual and Collective Identity: Confrontations on Caste and Varna.- Chapter 5. The Politics of an Encumbered Self: Ambedkar and Gandhi on Separate Electorates.- Chapter 6. Debating Guru: Owners and Authors.- Chapter 7. Conclusion: Gandhi and Ambedkar: Philosophical divergences and convergences.
Bindu Puri is a Professor of contemporary Indian Philosophy at the Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her main interests in philosophy are in the areas of contemporary Indian philosophy and moral and political philosophy. She has been seriously engaged with the philosophy of M.K Gandhi and her first monograph was on Gandhi and the Moral Life (2004).She has also been keenly interested in the philosophical issues involved in Gandhi’s debates with Savarkar, Ambedkar and Tagore.Her monograph The Tagore-Gandhi Debate: On Matters of Truth and Untruth ( Springer,2015)was published in the series: Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures. She has edited seven volumes and has written over 50 papers in edited anthologies and philosophical and interdisciplinary journals including Sophia, Philosophia and the Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. She has presented over 160 papers and lectures at national and International forums. Professor Puri delivered the prestigious annual ‘M K Gandhi lecture on Peace and the Humanities’ 2017 for the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Council Of Ottawa, Canada and the Johnson and Hastings lectures at the University of Mount Allison Canada for the same year.