Also Sprach Ambedkar

Navayana's new title- which will be out soon - is the first in the Thus Spoke Ambedkar series. Entitled A Stake in the Nation, this is a selection of Ambedkar's speeches, edited by Bhagwan Das, with annotations. The format is interesting- the book is square, and in hardcover. One could almost expect a DVD hidden within... But the content is what grabs.

In India, there are castes. These castes are antinational. These words by Ambedkar define the project. A Stake in the Nation is the first of the four volumes selected and edited by Bhagwan Das, a veteran chronicler of the dalit movement who in 1955–56 worked as a research associate with Ambedkar. "The twenty speeches in the first of volume of Thus Spoke Ambedkar showcase the wide range of issues that Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar engaged with as one of the founders of modern India. Delivered between 1930 and 1956, they unravel a story otherwise jettisoned by mainstream ‘nationalist’ narratives that valorise a rather Hinduised ‘idea of India’. The uncanny prescience of the ideas contained here will help us seek answers to many of our persistent problems.

Speaking at times like a swordsman who strikes to defend but not to wound, and at others like a surgeon focused on eliminating the one rotten organ – caste – that endangers the entire body, Ambedkar grapples with questions of inequality, democracy, labour, minority rights, communalism, brahminism, constitution-making and foreign policy in speeches that address various publics: dalit workers in Nashik, British lawmakers in London, parliamentarians in Delhi and college students in Jalandhar. The prose spans different registers of reason and affect—lyrical and polemic, combative and poignant.

This volume, the first in the Navayana Ambedkar Library series, is essential reading for all those keen on understanding India."

In our Dalit Studies section, in hardcover, 224 pages, Rs 395. ISBN 9788189059187

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