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Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, MA, MSc, PhD, DSc, DLitt, Bar-at-Law, is today among the most revered of Indians, his statues across the country second only in number to those of Mahatma Gandhi. He even overtook Gandhi in a recent poll to determine the ‘greatest Indian’ of modern times, in which over 20 million votes were cast. All the major political parties vie with one another to claim him as their own. To the Dalits, he is a revered figure who was chiefly responsible for outlawing untouchability and fighting to give dignity to the community. And, most of all, he is hailed as the father of India’s Constitution, the principal reason why India continues to remain a democracy with liberal, secular, plural values (although all these are under siege at the present time) that seeks to uphold the rights of the individual and uplift the downtrodden. Writes Shashi Tharoor: ‘Dr Ambedkar’s greatness cannot be reduced to any one of [his] accomplishments, because all were equally extraordinary.’In this new biography, Tharoor tells Ambedkar’s story with great lucidity, insight, and admiration. He traces the arc of the great man’s life from his birth into a family of Mahars in the Bombay Presidency on 14 April 1891 to his death in Delhi on 6 December 1956. He describes the many humiliations and hurdles Ambedkar had to overcome in a society that stigmatized the community he was born into, and the single-minded determination with which he overcame every obstacle he encountered. We are given insights into the various battles Ambedkar fought to make untouchability illegal, his disputes with the other political and intellectual giants of his era, including Gandhi and Nehru, and his determination to invest India with a visionary Constitution that enshrined within it the inalienable rights of the individual and modern conceptions of social justice. ‘In so doing,’ writes Tharoor, ‘he transformed the lives of millions yet unborn, heaving an ancient civilization into the modern era through the force of his intellect and the power of his pen.’Deeply researched, searching, and insightful, Ambedkar: A Life offers readers a fresh and profound understanding of one of the greatest Indians who ever lived.
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