Introduction to Annotated Critical Edition of "Annihilation by Arundhati Roy

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By Arundhati Roy

This is often the very well-known and in addition debatable creation Arundhati Roy wrote for an annotated and important version of Annihilation of Caste by way of B. R. Ambedkar.

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T h e n am e H in d u itself is a foreign n a m e ,” said A m b e d k a r. It was given by the Mohammedans to the natives [who lived east of the river Indus] for the purpose of distinguishing themselves. It does not occur in any Sanskrit work prior to the Mohammedan invasion. They did not feel the necessity of a common name, because they had no sense of their having constituted a community. '"’ fjfi The Doctor and the Saint W h e n reform ers began to use the w o rd ‘H i n d u ’ to describe themselves and their organisations, it had less to do with religion than w ith tr y in g to forge a unified political constitutio n out o f a divid ed people.

8* A raft o f n e w reformist outfits appeared in Punjab, c o m m itte d to saving H in d u ism by w in n in g the 'hearts and m in ds' o f Untouchables: the S h ra d h a n an d a D a litu d d h a r Sabha, the A ll-In dia A c h h u to d h a r C o m m itte e , th e P unjab A c h h u t U d h a r M a n d a l and the Jat-Pat T o d a k M andal w h ic h was part o f the A rya S a m a j/9 T h e reform ers’ use o f the w ords ‘H i n d u ’ and ‘H in d u is m ’ was new. U n til then, they had b een used by the British as well as the M ughals, bu t it was n o t the way people wrh o w ere described as H in d u s chose to describe themselves.

C o nstitutio na lism can com e in the way o f revolution. A nd the Dalit revolution has not h ap p e n e d yet. W e still await it. Before that there can n o t be any other, n o t in India. T his is n o t to suggest that w r itin g a co nstitution c a n n o t be a radical act. It can be, it could have been, and A m b e d k a r tried his best to m ak e it one. H o w ev er, by his o w n admission, he did not entirely succeed. As India hurtled tow ards in depen dence, b o th A m b e d k a r and G a n d h i w ere seriously c o n c e rn e d ab out the fate o f m inorities, particularly M uslim s and U ntouchables, bu t th ey responded to the app ro ach in g birth o f the n ew n ation in very different ways.

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