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.’

                            "Constitution is not a mere lawyers document, it is a vehicle of life and
                                         it's spirit is always the spirit of the age"
                                                                                                  - Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

In Tharoor's latest literary feat, Ambedkar: A Life, readers can read a well-written biography of Father of the Indian  Constitution, a great political leader, social reformer and a women rights activist Dr. Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The book is divided into two chapters, one is about his life and second about his legacy, In the first half of the book, Author Tharoor recounts the pivotal moments of Ambedkar's difficult journey, the hardships he faced due to poverty, the humiliations he had to endure at every stage for no fault of his own,  because of being born in a stigmatized community,  his struggle to complete his studies and fulfil his family responsibilities.

In the second half, he explores Ambedkar's legacy and inspiring life journey as a respected political figure. How Babasaheb earned the right to refuse to consider himself inferior to anyone and how he used education as his tool to the forefront of the cause of liberty, equality, and fraternity. He stood against discrimination, raised his voice against inequality and worked towards a more inclusive and just society.  He believed in measuring the  progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved and therefore, he strongly endorsed women's right to high education and employment. He led a meaningful life and contributed to society's growth.

I would say that this book by Dr. Shashi Tharoor is deeply researched and insightful and offers its readers a profound understanding of the greatest leader Dr. Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar. 


Shashi Tharoor is a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. He previously served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs.

He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist and a human rights advocate.


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