Murali Shanmugavelan in The Independent:
Booker Prize winner and activist-author Arundhati Roy was recently in London to launch her new book called The Doctor and the Saint, except, it’s not entirely her book.
Roy has written an introduction to the seminal text The Annihilation of Caste – a critique on Hinduism and caste, penned by the great Indian social reformist Dr B.R. Ambedkar. He wrote the piece for a lecture in 1936 which was not delivered: the upper caste organisers found the text too radical to ‘permit’ him to speak.
In March 2014, her book was launched in India triggering controversy. Roy, who is usually praised for her efforts in trying to represent the marginalised in her writing, found herself in an awkward position as well-known anti-caste activists and Dalit (formerly Untouchables) writers rejected her introduction. A popular YouTube Channel, Dalit Camera uploaded a series of interviews and critiques on Roy’s introduction, including an open letter to her. By August, an online media portal dedicated to anti-caste issues called Round Table India (RTI) had published several articles by a range of authors.
“We object to Roy’s text not because of her non-Dalit origin but due to her poor grasp of the seminal text and even shallower and sensational out-of-context introduction to the original text at risk of maligning Ambedkar” says Anu Ramdas, Editor of RTI.
Roy, in her introduction to The Annihilation of Caste, has described Ambedkar as being Anti-Adivasis (tribals) and pro-eugenics. “This is like calling Steve Biko a racist”, said Ravichandran, founder of Dalit Camera.