‘ Caste in India is like the air we breathe and the water we drink, it is in the people we marry, and how we get remembered after death. And most importantly, it is in the visceral experience of shame.’ , US-based Sujatha Gidla, author of the ‘Ants Among Elephants’, talks about the nature of the caste system at Jaipur Literature Festival 2018.
‘Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India’ is a work by Sujatha Gidla on how India’s untouchables struggle to overcome poverty and social ostracism due to the rigid caste system. Sujatha Gidla was born a Dalit in Andhra Pradesh, India, and her writing has appeared in The Oxford India Anthology of Telugu Dalit Writing.
” The Indian immigrant cultural groups are caste networks. Some are overtly casteist and don’t invite Dalits to groups and events. Others are more refined and refused to support Rohith Vemula because they thought he was cowardly,” said Sujatha. The Black activists helped me overcome shame about caste, she added.
” You cannot legislate against untouchability. You will have to attack the material reasons of caste. You cannot work within the current political form and eradicate caste, it won’t work. Hinduism is a religion tailor-made for caste. It is a religious prop for caste, which is a social system.” Sujatha said. Gandhi was a consciously casteist man. He just wanted to prettify it, she told.