Ants Among Elephants – A Review

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India
by Sujatha Gidla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My friend and I were talking about reservations in the Indian Education system when we realized that we don’t even know the right vocabulary to discuss it. Both of us were going on about it based on hearsay and assumptions. Neither of us had experienced the horrors of caste first hand nor read about it. That’s how I ended up reading this book.

I went in knowing that this book was going to make me uncomfortable. That, it did. But it was so much more than that. The story was very engaging and it helped me learn parts of Indian history that I never gave much thought to – like the Telangana struggle and the birth of Naxals. It made me realize that for every high-level book about policies I read, I need to couple it with a book written by someone who is affected by the policy. Because the former rarely gives the complete picture.

Though it is not explicitly discussed in the book, I can see that the author herself and her family are beneficiaries of the quota system. And this book is going to be my recommendation to anyone who is against it.

Caste oppression is something that the society rarely wants to talk about because it is a can of worms that once opened can never be shut. But ignoring it is not the way to go. Pretending that our ancestors did not come up with this dehumanizing system is not going to work. The first step to fix a problem is to acknowledge that it exists.

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