Thursday, March 07, 2019

Roy on Caste

You've been vocal against the caste system in your fiction as well as your non-fiction. How do you navigate your own caste identity?

I don't have a caste identity, because I am not a Hindu. A lot of people thought my father was a Brahmin, but he was not. He was a Brahmo Samaji, who then became a Christian. But that argument that only Dalits can write about Ambedkar or one shouldn't write about Gandhi—that's an opinion, but I don't agree with it at all. My caste identity is totally muddled; I don't fit in anywhere. The RSS keeps putting this thing out that she is actually a Christian, as if that immediately means I would grow horns. Everyone says whatever they like.

As for criticism, you can't react to it in some stupid way—you have to accept that it is a complex thing, and you have to take care of what you are saying and why you are saying it.

India is so complicated—people outside can't fully grasp the way caste operates. People think if you write in the vernacular, you are a radical person. But that's not true because the vernacular itself is colonised by the upper castes. A lot of radical Dalits choose to write in English, for instance. There are so many streams of things that are happening.

No comments: