Parekh was born in the village of Amalsad in the province of Gujarat, India; his father was a goldsmith with a basic education. Parekh was admitted to the University of Bombay at the age of 15, and earned a Bachelor's degree there in 1954 and a Master's in 1956. He began his graduate studies at the London School of Economics in 1959, and received his Ph.D. in 1966.
He taught at the London School of Economics and at the University of Glasgow before finding a long-term position at the University of Hull. Between 1981 and 1984 he was Vice-Chancellor at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India. He also held the Centennial Professorship in the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and a professorship of political philosophy at the University of Westminster. In 2002, he served as president of the Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences. Parekh has also served on the Commission for Racial Equality (including a spell as Vice-Chairman) and has held membership of a number of bodies concerned with issues of racial equality and multiculturalism - most notably as Chairman of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain from 1998 to 2000. The report of this body (often referred to as the "Parekh Report") has been the basis for much of the debate on multiculturalism in the UK in the early 21st century.
Awards and honours 
Parekh became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1988, and of the Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences in 1999. He was appointed a life peer in 2000 as Baron Parekh, of Kingston upon Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He became a fellow of the British Academy in 2003, the same year in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2007.
On 11 July 2011, Parekh was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences (DSoc Sci) from Nottingham Trent University.
Writings (selection) 
- Bentham's Political Thought. Croom Helm. 1973. ISBN 0-85664-037-9.
- Marx's Theory of Ideology. Johns Hopkins Univ Pr. 1982. p. 256. ISBN 0-8018-2771-X.
- Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi's Political Discourse. Sage. 1989. ISBN 0-8039-9605-5.
- Gandhi's Political Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan. 1991. p. 264. ISBN 0-333-54765-9.
- The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain: Report of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. Profile Books. 2000. ISBN 1-86197-227-X.
- Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Paperbacks. 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-285457-5.
- Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Harvard UP. 2002. ISBN 0-674-00995-9.
- Europe and the Muslim Question: Does Intercultural Dialogue Make Sense? (ISIM Papers). Amsterdam University Press. 2007. ISBN 90-5356-087-4.
- A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World. Palgrave Macmillan. 2008. ISBN 1-4039-0647-5.
As well as this he wrote an account of "The Rushdie Affair and the British Press; Some Salutary Lessons" for the Commission for Racial Equality in 1990.
- Colour, Culture and Consciousness: Immigrant Intellectuals in Britain, Allen & U 1974, ISBN 0-04-301067-9
- Biography as the speaker for the Justice KT Desai Memorial Lecture 2009, Bombay Bar Association, retrieved 2010-03-25.
- "A lord with a rainbow notion", Times Higher Education, October 13, 2000.
- Honorary Graduates: Orations and responses – Lord Parekh of Kingston upon Hull, University of Essex, July 9, 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- People – University of Westminster Department of Politics and International Relations, retrieved 2010-03-25.
- Elections to the Fellowship > 2003 > Professor Lord (Bhikhu) Parekh, retrieved 2010-03-25.