New Delhi, April 2022: To commemorate the 131st birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the Father of the Indian Constitution, on 14 April, Penguin Random House India has acquired the first English language translation of the autobiography of Dr Ambedkar’s wife and social activist Savita Ambedkar. Originally written in Marathi, the book has been translated by critically acclaimed and award-winning translator Nadeem Khan. Titled Babasaheb: My Life with Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the book will be released in late 2022 under the Vintage imprint.
A tenacious fighter, an outstanding scholar and an iconic leader, Dr B.R. Ambedkar was all that and more. In the book, his wife Savita brings alive a different side of Ambedkar—a man who wrote romantic letters, dictated what she should wear, whipped up delicious mutton curry, played the violin, and even tried his hand at sculpting. This is a book that humanizes Ambedkar as no other book has done yet.
Born in a middle-class Sarasvat Brahmin family, Dr Sharada Kabir met and got to know Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar as a patient riddled with life-threatening diseases. She eventually married him on 15 April 1948 and got rechristened as Savita Ambedkar. From the day of their marriage to the death of Dr B. R. Ambedkar on 6 December 1956, she aided him in some of his greatest achievements—drafting the Constitution of India, framing the Hindu Code Bill, writing some of his most celebrated books, including The Buddha and His Dhamma, leading millions of Dalits into Buddhism. Following his death, she was hounded into obscurity by some of Dr Ambedkar’s followers who saw her as a threat to their political ambitions. She re-emerged into public life in 1970 and got back to working on the mission to which her husband had devoted his life—the welfare of the Dalit community. Savita Ambedkar was given a state funeral when she passed away on 29 May 2003. Her autobiography, Dr Ambedkaraanchya Sahavaasaat, was first published in Marathi in 1990.
Translator of Babasaheb, Nadeem Khan says, ‘Since it opens another important (and certainly the most personal) window into Dr B. R. Ambedkar’s life, it is easily the most significant book I have translated.’
Commenting on the upcoming book, Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Ebury Publishing and Vintage, Penguin Random House India, says ‘Dr Savita Ambedkar’s book on her husband and the father of our constitution Dr B.R. Ambedkar has been expertly translated by Nadeem Khan from Marathi to English. I am delighted to acquire this hidden gem that will give us a fresh and intimate insight into one of the most iconic Indians of the twentieth century through some of the most defining moments in Indian history.’
About the translator
Nadeem Khan has been a teacher of English since 1973. He was the founder–and director of the Western Regional Centre of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, an autonomous Institute run by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, from 2011 to 2018. He has translated well over a dozen books—mainly from Marathi into English—including Vishwas Patil’s celebrated Marathi novel Panipat and Avadhoot Dongare’s Sahitya Akademi winning novel Swatahala Phaltu Samajnyaachi Gosht. He is the winner of the Valley of Words award for the best-translated book for the year 2020.