R. N. Bashir: Character Analysis in Untouchable

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      R. N. Bashir is B.A. (Oxon), Barrister-at-law. He is an Anglophile. He belongs to the community of the Indians who were educated at British University. They are profoundly influenced by everything British and detest everything that is Indian. English environment has transformed their inner-selves. He has read Rousseau, Hobbes, Bentham and John Stuart Mill. He has not developed his own insight into modern thought. He has borrowed thoughts from the west.

      Bashir seems superficial and hollow in his criticism of Mahatma. The basic difference between Iqbal Nath Sarshar and R.N. Bashir is that of understanding the spirit of India. Iqbal is enlightened because he identifies himself with India as well with its culture and tradition based on Upanishads and Vedas. But Bashir ridicules India’s cultural heritage. He criticises social classification of India, “If it had not been for the wily Brahmins, the priestcraft, who came in the pride of their white skin, lifted the pure philosophical idea of karma from the Dravidians—that deeds and acts are dynamic, that all is in flux, everything changes—and misinterpreted it vulgarly to mean that birth and rebirth in this universe is governed by good or bad deeds in the past life, India would have offered the best instance of democracy As it is, caste is an intellectual aristocracy based on the conceit of the pundits, being otherwise wholly democratic. The high caste High Court judge eats freely with the coolie of the caste. So we can destroy our inequalities easily The old, mechanical formulas of our lives must go; the old, stereotyped forms must give place to a new dynamic. We Indians live so deeply in our contacts; we are so acutely aware of our bloodstream....”

      Bashir mocks Gandhi’s view of untouchability ‘Let me tell you that with regard to untouchability the Mahatma is more sound than he is in his politics. You have swallowed all those cheap phrases about inferiority complex and superiority complex of Oxford without understanding what they mean. You slavishly copy the English in everything....’

      He presents a radical view of casteless and classless society in the following lines from Untouchable:

      “Well, we must destroy caste, we must destroy the inequalities of birth and unalterable vacations. We must recognise an equality of rights, privileges and opportunities for everyone. The Mahatma didn’t say so, but the legal and social basis of caste having been broken down by the British-Indian penal code, which recognises the rights of every man before a court, caste is now mainly governed by profession. When the sweepers change their profession, they will no longer remain untouchables. And they can do that soon, for the first thing we will do when we accept the machine will be to introduce, the machine which clears dungs without anyone having to handle it—the flush system. Then the sweepers can be free from the stigma of untouchability and assume the dignity of status that is their right as useful members of a casteless and classless society.”

      R.N. Bashir represents the Westernised Indians who praise the English and adulate them. He characterises those Indians who are sycophants of the British.

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