Untouchables and Gunga Din

Just briefly:

I thought it worthwhile to mention that I saw similarities between Bakha and Gunga Din in that they both idolized the British way of life. This was seen especially in Bakha’s British military clothing articles, and the way that Gunga Din tried to do the military drills along with the soldiers in the encampment.

Both Gunga Din (more so in the beginning) and Bakha are low in status. Bakha in Untouchables is the “lowest of the low”. The juxtaposition of Bakha and Gunga Din’s poverty and shiny British luxury is stark, especially when the latter adorns the other.

I wonder why Anand would allude to Kipling, but I like what srinidhik (the post before mine) is kind of implying (to me, atleast). Is there honor in being as low in status as Bakha, when his life is so hard and people are unjust towards him? What should he do? What should he aspire to? Should he find contentment in his own poverty, as Gandhi implies, since he’s already a “part of India”?

Just some thoughts.


One thought on “Untouchables and Gunga Din

  1. I’m sure we will talk more about this in class, and maybe here on the blog, but based on some of the reading/discussion that has happened in Dr. Sreenivas’ History 543.04 class, the history of contemporary India, I wonder how realistic Gandhi’s vision was in helping the Dalits. He in no unclear terms mentions his support of their community and how he himself was worked and lived among them, but his idealization of the village as the model of Indian life I think would inevitably lead to the survival of casteism. The village model itself is very much based on a division of labor, more so than cities, and according to the Dalits, would inevitably lead to caste hierarchy remaining. A documentary we saw in the History of India class showed clearly that while in urban areas anonymity along with many other reasons has lifted the burden of untouchability for the most part, but it is alive and well in many Indian villages. And while I don’t know too much about their discussions, the arguments between Gandhi and one of the major architects of the Indian Constitution, the Dalit leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, would make me think that Gandhi’s sympathies towards Dalits were still colored by his privilege as a caste Hindu. And even if this isn’t the case, asking all ~1 billion Indian Hindus to be as saintly as Gandhi and cast off their prejudices isn’t feasible in the least, especially when a society based on caste has been part of most Indic religions for several millenia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s