New Internationalist

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

Issue 421

By Vasant Dahake and Vijay Surwade

Although Gandhi is a household name all over the world, Babasaheb Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution and the first person to fight effectively for the rights of dalits (aka ‘untouchables’), has never received the international recognition he deserves.

Illustrated with beautiful old photographs, this book brings together the campaigner’s life and philosophy and the struggles for both dalit liberation and Indian Independence. A true labour of love, Vijay Surwade collated the book’s old and difficult-to-obtain pictures, while poet and intellectual Vasant Dahake wrote the text. With poetic precision he distils the deeply moving narrative of Ambedkar’s life (he died in 1956) into just 50 pages. The struggles, the betrayals by the upper caste leaders – including Gandhi and Nehru – come through in all their complexity. But the tone remains sympathetic and non-judgemental. This book provides a sensitive introduction to the major questions of dalit identity, including the mass conversions to Buddhism. A must-read for anyone interested in dalit and Indian history.

MMK

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