Political Studies Association Awards 2003

Political Studies Association Awards 2003
Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Politics


Lord Parekh has made an enormous contribution to political studies, in Britain, India and further afield, and has also made an important and sustained practical contribution to political life. His work is thoughtful, inventive, caring and accessible. His scholarship is widely admired, with words such as ‘brilliant', ‘profound' and ‘compassionate' featuring in reviews of his books. Bhikhu Parekh is also an activist, serving on commissions and trusts, bringing his understanding and ideas to bear on a range of issues and doing much to promote a more liberal and tolerant society. He is particularly wellknown for his writing and activities in the fields of cultural diversity and the development of a multicultural society. The Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom is delighted to award the 2003 Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize to Professor Lord Parekh - scholar, activist, philosopher and educator.

Bhikhu Parekh was born in 1935 in Gujarat. He graduated from the University of Bombay before coming to the London School of Economics to study for his PhD. He taught at the LSE and the University of Glasgow before moving to the University of Hull in 1964, becoming Professor of Political Theory in 1982. He returned to India in 1981 where he served as Vice-Chancellor of Baroda University until 1984. He has been a visiting professor at a number of institutions, including the University of British Columbia, Harvard, McGill, the Institute of Advanced Studies,Vienna, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2001 he was appointed Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. Professor Parekh is the author of over a dozen acclaimed books, and he has also published more than 100 articles and has edited four volumes of Critical Assessments of Jeremy Bentham. His published work, which has received widespread international praise and recognition, includes Marx’s Theory and Ideology (1982), Contemporary Political Thinkers (1982), Colonialism, Tradition and Reform (1999), and Gandhi (2001). Bhikhu Parekh’s recent book Rethinking Multiculturalism (2000) received fulsome tributes, described as ‘a brilliant analysis… a work of profound compassion’ (Stuart Hall, Open University), ‘a most profound, original and wide-ranging book’ (Tariq Modood, Bristol), ‘a lucid and luminous examination… written by a fine scholar’ (Homi Bhabha, Chicago) and ‘a truly important and original book’ (Benjamin Barber, Rutgers).

Lord Parekh has also been very active in public life. He was a member of the Rampton/Swann Committee into Educational Problems of Ethnic Minority Children and Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality from 1985 to 1990. He was a member of the Commission of Inquiry into the Rise of Fascism and the National Commission on Equal Opportunity. He has served as a trustee for the Runnymede Trust, Institute for Public Policy Research, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Anne Frank Trust and the Gandhi Foundation. He chaired the Commission on the Future of Multi- Ethnic Britain, which reported in October 2000.

Professor Parekh’s main academic interests include the history of political thought, ancient and modern Indian political ideas, and political philosophy. He is particularly well-known for his trenchant work on the philosophy of ethnic relations and has frequently broadcast on radio and television, and written widely in national newspapers, on race relations and political events. His work, both academic and practical, has been dedicated to advancing multiculturalism and to developing thinking about citizenship and moral obligations in societies that are culturally diverse.

Bhikhu Parekh and his brother set up a charitable foundation in memory of their father, Chhotalal, and this has endowed a chair in Indian Politics at the University of Hull and a visiting fellowship in Indian studies at the University of Oxford. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 2000. Professor Lord Parekh has received many honours, including British Asian of the year in 1992. In 2003, Lord Parekh was elected Fellow of the British Academy and he also serves as President of the Academy of Social Sciences.