For 10 years I have been engaged in the perilous process of writing an entirely newly-researched biography of B.R. Ambedkar. The published biographies currently available rely primarily on one of two sources. The first, only relied upon by Marathi speakers, is C.B. Khairmoday’s 12-volume Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Charitra, not yet translated into English. The second, relied upon by non-Marathi speakers – and the most cited book of Ambedkar Studies – is Dhananjay Keer’s Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Life & Mission. These 'authoritative' biographies are riddled with misinformation. Abroad too, the LSE and Columbia University archivists and librarians have many of their facts mixed up. Errors regarding dates, meetings, degrees, and so on are repeated and perpetuated in the most important collection of Ambedkar’s oeuvre till date, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, or BAWS, published in multiple volumes by the Maharashtra Government. The same is true for the material on display at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and Memorial in Pune, and displayed at the Ambedkar House/Museum in London. The Government of India’s own Ministry of Justice, which Dr Ambedkar once led, offers an erroneous biography of independent India’s first Law Minister – with mistakes about his legal education. These early authors, collections and institutions have been relied upon by Ambedkar’s numerous subsequent biographers. Consequently, their foundational errors continue to persist in the most widely read biographies of recent times, including those by Eleanor Zelliot (Navayana, 2004), Gail Omvedt (Penguin, 2004), right up to that of Shashi Tharoor (Aleph, 2022).
Aakash Singh Rathore is a philosopher of international repute, author of nine books, including the just-released Becoming Babasaheb: A Definitive Biography (Harper Collins, 2023), and the best-selling Ambedkar's Preamble: A Secret History of the Constitution of India (Penguin, 2020). He has also edited over a dozen books ranging from political philosophy and law to literature and religion, including B.R. Ambedkar’s The Buddha and His Dhamma: A Critical Edition (Oxford University Press, 2011), and more recently, B.R. Ambedkar: The Quest for Justice (a box set of 5 volumes, Oxford University Press, 2021). His Hegel’s India (Oxford University Press) was shortlisted for the 'Non-fiction Book of the Year' at the Tata Literature Live Book Awards 2017.Professor Rathore has taught Politics, Philosophy, and Law at premier institutions such as Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Delhi (in India), UPenn and Rutgers University (in the USA), the University of Toronto (Canada), Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany), and LUISS University of Rome (Italy). He is International Fellow at ETHOS, Rome, and was previously Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Rathore serves as the Series Editor of the 15-volume "Rethinking India" book series (Penguin 2020-2023), and was coeditor (with Ashis Nandy) of its first volume, Vision for A Nation. He is also Series Editor for “Religion and Democracy: Reconceptualizing Religion, Culture, and Politics in Global Context” (published by Oxford since 2015) as well as the long-running international book series, “Ethics, Human Rights and Global Political Thought” (published by Routledge since 2011).