Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four Legged Scorpion

Title: Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four Legged Scorpion: A Play About Untouchability

Author: Rajesh Talwar

Genre: Plays

Rating: 5 out of 5 fairies

Where to buy: Amazon

Put it on your to be read list: Goodreads

Synopsis: The play introduces both Gandhi and Ambedkar through significant events in their lives. In an opening scene Gandhi is shown to have been thrown off a train with his baggage. The very next day he is physically assaulted by another train official on another train. A lesser known train journey in Babasaheb Ambedkar’s life also proves to be life changing. The play shows Babasaheb as a young boy descending from a train, and how he and his siblings cannot travel to see their father because no cart driver is willing to take them there – all because they are Dalits. 
In the second Act the play moves on to show Gandhi and Ambedkar having matured and become great leaders, the one of the Indian nation and the other of the Dalit community. The Poona conflict between the two great men on the issue of separate electorates for the Dalits sought by Ambedkar and granted by the British thereafter ensues. Gandhi goes on a fast unto death unless the proposal is withdrawn for he believes that this will divide the country. Ambedkar, on the other hand, asserts that he will be hanged from a lamppost rather than betray the cause of his people….
To give the play a contemporary feel and edge, in the opening and concluding scenes three middle-aged intellectuals – a Dalit judge, a Muslim vice-chancellor and a Hindu politician – discuss the above events. A parallel fictional story line involving these three characters, who happen to be old friends, adds to the modern day relevance of the play.

About the Author: Rajesh Talwar studied at the University of Nottingham after going to the UK on
a British Chevening scholarship in 1996. He received his LL.M in Human Rights Law. He has also participated in a programme on Negotiation at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and received a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. He began working for the United Nations in various capacities. His work with the U.N. took him to places such as Kosovo, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Somalia and Liberia.

Talwar's career in writing includes writing on different subjects for major media outlets including The Guardian, The Economic Times, The Sunday Mail, and The Pioneer. He has also published books on the topic of law, addressing law reform as well as trying to demystify the subject  such as in 'How to Choose a Lawyer - and Win Your Case.'

Review:  I greatly enjoyed reading this play, but I would really love to see it performed on a stage. An introduction to an important part of Indian history, one that often is overlooked in the western world. The class system, and the idea of 'untouchables' is ones often glossed over in the history books of the Western world. Although many know of the result of the work these two powerful figures, few know the story of what led up to the men the world knows. I highly recommend this play, to read or to perform.