The first man to touch base with the social conscience of our nation was doubtlessly Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar commonly known as Babasaheb Ambedkar. Although the imagery and statues of the father of Indian Constitution is a prevalent sight in towns and cities but he has somehow not received the rightful place in the intellectual discourse. Time and again the feelings and emotions emanating from Babasaheb has been falsely manipulated and rather concocted for petty political gains. Considering his humble background and disadvantaged upbringing, the intellectual heights to which he rose is unimaginable and commendable in every sense of the word. To this backdrop, I would like to introduce Dr. Narendra Jadhav’s new book called Ambedkar: Awakening India’s Social Conscience.
The book is slated to be the first ever ‘intellectual biography’ of Babasaheb. The fundamental reason behind Ambedkar’s absence from the contemporary intellectual scene was dearth of a comprehensive biography in a language that brought him to the centre of gravity of intellectual world. Travelling through this latest literary creation, the reader would realise the hardships and discrimination that lambasted on the path of Babasaheb on his quest to become the towering leader of the downtrodden. The author has meticulously mentioned the deepest of details of Babasaheb’s childhood and adolescent days; it would be a source of great inspiration for the youths of today who aspire to contribute in the nation building. The chapter on Babasaheb’s venturing beyond India for attainment of education is also very insightful. It captures the essence of his journey from a novice sufferer to a thoughtful philosopher. The transition of Babasaheb from a scholar to a politician and eventually into an administrator reveals the adaptive streak of his personality. The book traces the trajectory of love-hate relationship between Babasaheb and the British Government in an interesting manner.
The prologue to the book is the foundation on which the whole treatise is based; it is called the meeting that shaped the Modern India. The interface between father of nation and the father of constitution reflects the erudition and an in-depth understanding of both the great individuals with highly contrasting personalities. The author has successfully incorporated all of Babasaheb’s writings and the important speeches that he delivered. It essentially encapsulates the man’s intellectual making, evolution of his thinking and thought process and the strategic stance he took from time to time, over his momentous public life.
The reader is the best judge of any book; in the present case the author has excellently lived up to the expectations of his reader. At the time of politically charged atmosphere, I am sure that the book would dispel a lot of misplaced notions on Babasaheb and his life. Hence, it is very timely and appropriate.
The most glaring feature of the book would be its objectivity. The marriage of well articulated arguments and intelligent propositions are rarely seen in biographies. Even the simplistic details are not passed without verification; observations are tested through numerous footnotes and authorities.
Dr. Jadhav’s work reflects his aptitude and appetite for investigative scholarship. He has delivered a marvel for scholars, researcher and students of law and political science.