#Essential Reads: The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections

Editor | Non-fiction

This landmark volume, edited and introduced by Anand Teltumbde and Suraj Yengde, establishes B.R. Ambedkar as the most powerful advocate of equality and fraternity in modern India. While the vibrant Dalit movement recognizes Ambedkar as an agent for social change, the intellectual class has celebrated him as the key architect of the Indian Constitution and the political establishment has sought to limit his concerns to the question of reservations. This remarkable volume seeks to unpack the radical in Ambedkar’s legacy by examining his life work from hitherto unexplored perspectives.

Although revered by millions today primarily as a Dalit icon, Ambedkar was a serious scholar of India’s history, society and foreign policy. He was also among the first dedicated human rights lawyers, as well as a journalist and a statesman. Critically evaluating his thought and work, the essays in this book-by Jean Drèze, Partha Chatterjee, Sukhadeo Thorat, Manu Bhagavan, Anupama Rao and other internationally renowned names-discuss Ambedkar’s theory on minority rights, the consequences of the mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism, Dalit oppression in the context of racism and anti-Semitism, and the value of his thought for Marxism and feminism, among other global concerns.

An extraordinary collection of immense breadth and scholarship that challenges the popular understanding of Ambedkar, The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections (Published by Penguin Random House, Pages 520, Rs 999) is essential reading for all those who wish to imagine a new future.

Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton distinguished service professor, University of Chicago, said: “Ambedkar, like Gandhi, provides a great subject for global and comparative studies. This volume [moves away from] uncritical adulation and [presents] a series of fresh perspectives on a man whose relevance to discussions of social justice and politics increases with every passing day. A timely collection of some truly powerful and incisive essays.”

Professor Valerian Rodrigues, Ambedkar chair, Ambedkar University Delhi, said: “These papers reposition Ambedkar as a global thinker addressing come of the most intricate problems that our world still wrestles with. Meticulous investigative essays, infectious concerns and combative advocacies admirably blend together in this volume, suggesting several pathways of research and action.”

About the Editors

Anand Teltumbde is a leading public intellectual and civil rights activist. He writes a monthly column, ‘Margin Speak’, for Economic and Political Weekly and regularly contributes to Mainstream, Frontier, Seminar and many leading English and Marathi newspapers. Among his significant books are The Republic of Caste (2018), Dalits: Past, Present and Future (2016) Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt (2016) and The Persistence of Caste (2010). An engineer with a management qualification, Teltumbde has been the CEO of a holding company. He currently teaches in a business school of IIT, Kharagpur.

Suraj Milind Yengde is a Shorenstein Center inaugural post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has worked with leading international organizations in Geneva, London and New York, and is associate editor of Caste: A Global Journal of Social Exclusion. His writings have featured in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Social Transformations, Economic and Political Weekly, Huffington Post, Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, the Conversation, Globe and Post and Mail and Guardian, among other leading publications. His first book, Caste Matters, is forthcoming from Penguin Random House India.

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