Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was a great nationalist, political thinker, reformer and revolutionary and prolific writer with prodigious ideas. He stood for all scientific and social activities, which enhanced the cause of human progress and happiness. His contribution in the making of the Constitution of India was phenomenal. He defiantly fought for the betterment of the oppressed classes. In his struggles, he demonstrated rare crusading spirit, carving out in the process an important place for himself among the prominent architects of modern India. He dedicated his entire life to challenge the inhuman social order and its wrongly idealized social relations that treated the human existence of dalits as subhuman. ‘He saw clearly that the prevailing ethical and political drawbacks sprang from a total misconception of the meaning of human relationship, and the problem of right human relations was the key to his entire thought and action. It was in this conviction and with an optimistic faith in human goodness, love and truth, which he entered upon his sacred mission. His purpose was practical rather than speculative and his philosophy of life was essentially a development and evolution under certain conditions and events prevailed in Indian society’ (Jatava D. R. 42-43).
Ambedkar’s political thinking is contained in two of his statements: (i) rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society; and (ii) a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. Social conscience is the only safeguard of all rights, fundamental or non-fundamental. The prevalent view that once rights are enacted in a law is safeguarded is unwarranted. The formal framework of democracy is of no value. Democracy is essentially a form of society, a mode of associated living. The roots of democracy are to be searched in the social relationship, in the terms of associated life between the people who form a society.
Ambedkar political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. Social democracy is a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles are not to be treated as separate items but in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Unless there is social democracy, power to the people would remain a distant dream.
Social Philosophy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Ambedkar was, par excellence, a spokesman of the ignored humanity ‘ the workers, small peasants and landless labourers. He expressed the sorrows of the untouchables and tried sincerely to channel the activities of the depressed classes. In mobilising them, he created a sense of self-respect and pride in them. He dedicated his life to the cause of removal of untouchability and completely identified himself with the socially segregated section of the Indian society. He launched a life-long crusade for liberating them from their centuries-old enslavement and ostracism. It is this crusade, which ‘lifted him up high from a mere ghetto boy to a legend in his own lifetime’. He was born an untouchable and therefore he had an intense yearning to see that the untouchables are better placed in social, political and economic fields. He rejected social reforms received as charity and accommodation. He wanted social reforms as of right. He was not so much for peripheral social reforms in Hindu society like widow remarriage and abolition of child marriage. He was for a total re-organization and reconstruction of the Hindu society on two main principles equality and absence of casteism.
The socially progressive values that Ambedkar cherished were the basis of his social and political life. Though he was born in the Mahar community, he never represented his own community but represented all those communities, which were socially and economically downtrodden. He has been variously described as a crusader for the rights of the depressed classes of India, a literary genius, an eminent educationist, a political philosopher and an able parliamentarian. He was an indefatigable activist who by virtue of his formidable intellectual attributes started a movement for attainment of self-respect for the untouchables as well as depressed classes. He carried on a relentless struggle against the social, political and economic segregation of these classes.
Ambedkar’s thinking arose out of his acute dissatisfaction with the strange treatment meted out to the people of his community. His mind was preoccupied with the social amelioration, political enlightment, economic well-being and spiritual awakening of the downtrodden. He had a deep faith in fundamental human rights, in the equal rights of man and woman, in the dignity of the individual, in the promotion of better standards of life and, above all, in peace and security in all spheres of human life. He was a champion of a revolution to be brought about by the dynamics of public opinion through a change in the laws of the land. He saw a vast difference between a revolution and real social change. A revolution transfers political power from one party to another or one nation to another. The transfer of power must be accompanied by such distribution of power that the result would be a real social change in the relative strength of forces operating in society.
Ambedkar was totally committed to the annihilation of the caste system. According to him, caste system is not merely a division of labour but a division of labourers. It is a hierarchy in which the division of labourers is graded one above other. This division of labour is based on neither natural aptitude nor choice of the individual concerned. It is, therefore, harmful in as much as it involves the subordination of man’s natural powers and inclinations to the exigencies of social rules. Ambedkar reiterated: The caste system prevents common activity and by preventing it, it has prevented the Hindus from becoming a society with unified life and a consciousness of its own being.
Ambedkar’s great vision enjoined the abolition of casteism in every shape and form since he opposed all divisive forces and aimed at strengthing the impulse of national integration. The greatly cherished ideals of ‘fraternity and equality were the cement with which he wanted to bind together a totally cohesive nation’. Ambedkar’s philosophy was that self-respect and human dignity were of paramount importanance in a free republic. He espoused the noble cause of equality of status and opportunity to every Indian, assuring the dignity of the individual and unity of the nation. He was not merely a learned man, but also an intellectual who sacrificed his life for the dignity and uplift of the poorest of the poor of the world. His aim was not communal and not limited to personal benefit, but it was essentially social and human, related to all who suffered from slavery, injustice, tyranny and exploitation. Dr .Ambedkar’s principle was not to fight against the particular persons who created a frustrating situation for him and his fellow sufferers. He explains that the cause of the situation was not the individuals of uppercaste Hindus but the social philosophy, which supports a social system of inequalities. His long-range response was a direct attack against the root cause.
It is pertinent to raise some questions to reflect on Ambedkar’s legacy. Have his projects shaped out as he had wished? Has India moved in the direction that he thought optimal? Have his inheritors embalmed his ideas in dogma, or extended them while confronting new predicaments? Ambedkar’s vision did not end at the horizon of Dalit power; rather, he envisaged an India liberated from caste consciousness, a futuristic society no longer trapped in the feudal binaries of master and slave, privilege and privation. Ironically, the conditions of the untouchables and depressed sections of Indian society have not changed much. Social and economic justice is still evading them. The pathetic condition of the depressed classes has not shown the expected improvement. Social and economic inequalities continue to persist. Ambedkar’s dream of a society based on socio- economic justice, human dignity and equality is yet to be realised. So we cannot stop with Babasaheb Ambedkar and his programme of social reform. We have to go beyond Dr. Ambedkar in our struggle to establish an egalitarian society. HIs legacy will have to be retrieved and extended by activists committed to the social and cultural renaissance he had envisioned; and not by the political purveyors of an exhausted rhetoric who claim to speak in his name.
Political Philosophy of Ambedkar’s
Ambedkar is influenced by all the major political traditions of his times. His political thought has emerged from the three grand traditions of political thought, i.e. liberal, conservative and radical. The unique feature about him is that he has transcended all these traditions. He was influenced by the ideas of John Dewey, the pragmatic American and the teacher of him. The Fabian Edwin R. A. Seligman had considerable impact on his thought. He often quoted Edmund Burke, the conservative thinker of British, though we cannot brand Ambedkar as conservative. Ambedkar’s notion of liberty comes close to T.H. Green. Ambedkar’s philosophy is primarily ethical, social and religious. He thoroughly explored the Indian traditions and its philosophical systems in a unique way. He developed political concepts like democracy, justice, state and rights from his understanding of Indian society and the functioning of its institutions on the moral grounds. He is very critical of the institution of caste, which influences all the spheres of individual’s life and the Indian society as a whole. He further discusses how individual is related to society and how individual’s freedom is limited by other social forces. He is critical of authoritarian Hindu social order and argued in favor of democratic society. He probed into the moral and social foundations of India and gave new meaning to the lives of disadvantaged people. His was a rationale approach. Reason plays a role in his writings and speeches. The methodology he used is very scientific rather speculative. He was influenced by the assumptions of modernity. He is well informed in many areas of Indian history, polity,
culture, anthropology and philosophy. He quotes many thinkers his writings those who are influenced him.
Ambedkar’s poitical philosophy and its impact on Indian society and polity with reference to man and society, state and government, nation and nationalism, democracy, socialism, security, social justice, education and emancipation of the downtrodden (Jatava.1965.34). The notion of community is central to his thinking. To say that individuals make up of society is trivial; society is always composed of classes. It may be exaggeration to assert the theory of class conflict, but the existence of definite classes in a society is a fact and an individual in a society is always a member of a class. A caste is an enclosed class. Brahmins created caste and it is extended to other servile classes. Caste is endogamous unit and also a communal unit. His political theory was premised on moral community. It was as an ideal to be realized. He was very much critical about the Hindu social order. He argues that Hinduism is not qualified to be a community. Buddhism was projected as the ideal having the value of community grounding on morality. He considers that Buddhism attempted to found society on the basis of ‘reason’ and ‘morality’ (Jatava.1965.35).
Ambedkar’s conception of community is very novel. He does not confirm to either Hindu ideal community or Marxist conception of community based on participation in production process. His conception of community is moral and ethical. It is not automatically available for participation in common affairs. His idea of community has to be created through hard and torturous process of moral transformation.
Ambedkar has emerged as a major political philosopher with the rise of dalit movement in contemporary times. There are several attempts to understand Ambedkar and his philosophy. Confusion prevails among scholars due to the existence of diverse, and sometimes, contradictory theoretical assessment of Ambedkar. The social context of the scholars and their subjective positions play major role in the assessment of the thinker and very often the opinions of scholars evoke extreme reactions, which either elevate or demean Ambedkar. Though he had a great influence on Indian politics from the nationalist movement onwards until eighties, there has been not much academic debate on Ambedkar. The communities of knowledge and centre of power either ignored or deliberately marginalized him as a thinker and social scientist. Ambedkar is nowhere mentioned in the contemporary Indian philosophy and the philosophical discourses of India. This exclusion of Ambedkar has to be understood with the implicit politics of the writers on Indian philosophy. Very interestingly, the masses/communities of under privileged of Indian society brings him into the forefront. It is not exaggeration to say that there is no major village in the country without the statue of Ambedkar. (Jatava 36) He is the most celebrated symbol of the contemporary times. Due to the masses/Dalit communities symbolic association with Ambedkar, political parties and academics ranging from conservatives to radicals, are forced to look at Ambedkar. The celebration of Ambedkar has the undercurrent of failure of Indian democratic State to reach the majority of this nation and the assertion of these ignored communities. In other words, Ambedkar’s philosophy is a search to words the theories of social reconstruction of Indian society.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was not merely an exploratory and idealistic political philosopher, in the conventional sense, like Plato and Aristotle. Nevertheless, he developed his own political discourse, which was deeply rooted in real human problems, issues, and vital human affairs. His political philosophy attempted to erode the dichotomies between theory and practice, materialism and spiritualism, more importantly between human beings stratified into contending castes and communities. Ambedkar’s political ideology evolved from his total engagement with this predicament of Indian society. Dr. Ambedkar was great critique and writer thus presented the modern era with volumes of erudition and new versions of epistemology. The fact that he had produced a book called Thoughts on Linguistic States in 1955, one year before his death explains his passion for wisdom. His shift to spirituality at the last phase of his life did not make him shun from his commitment to human suffering.
Ambedkar Political philosophers sought to explore social phenomena and political behavior, (often in a historical context) as well as to clarify problematic concepts, evaluate existing institutions and argue for social ideal. Political philosophy is about the critical reflection of politics and its practices. It is about the understanding of the governing principles of a society in a critical fashion. It tries to philosophize the values, principles, practices and institutions, which govern the society. Philosophers gave different interpretations about the meaning of public life and governing principles of good society (Jatava0 37). Morality of the society and the ways of functioning of institutions serve as source in deriving political theory. Socio-political developments and the ensuing conflicts in society provide conditions for the emergence of new social and political theories. Political thought seems to spring from the political experience of both the thinker and his society. Political theory is nothing but the systematization of moral and political judgments of our activities.
Political Democracy of Ambedkar
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s political democracy recommands a democratic form of governance for India. Ambedkar opposed the democracy defined by the privileged social groups, which were insistent on continuing with varna/caste institutions ‘ which would continue to regulate social life of the people, but at the same time asked for a modern state-system to regulate the political life of society. Ambedkar could foresee the consequences of such a theoretical design, wherein the institutions of varna/caste, would decisively undermine the authority of the modern state, and thus retain the status-quo.
Dr. Ambedkar in 1943, argued that, ‘A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy’ (Jatava, 130). He further emphasized, ‘The politicals never realized that democracy was not a form of Government: it was essentially a form of society’ (Jatava 131). He was extremely apprehensive of the Dalits` fate in the independent India. For, he could clearly see that most political outfits of his time were preparing for a democratic form of government, without even questioning the varna/caste organization of the Indian society. That is why, he was insistent on a thoroughgoing social reform movements along radical lines, of which, most political conflicts were averse to. He could also see that, no political organization was prepared to intervene in the internal affairs of the society. While referring to the experiences of other societies, he had cautioned, ‘As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognize the rights which law chooses to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word’ (Jatava, 132-33).
The Constituent Assembly, while drafting the Constitution for an independent India, could not ignore the vital questions of civil society and citizenship, and therefore, assigned a twine role to the Indian Republic, i.e., the State to accomplish the task of democratizing Indian social order, and to regulate the socio-political affairs of the society. The Constitution, in its preamble itself, directs the State, to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all; Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual.
Ambedkar’s thought, as reflected in his writings and speeches has great importance in tracing the history and growth of social thought in India. It is necessary to understand the philosophy of Ambedkar, which is the theoretical foundation for the Dalit movement. The core of political thinking of Ambedkar is contained in two of his statements ‘ the rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of society, and a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. He considers democracy essentially as a form of society of a more associated living and a social conscience is the only safe guard of all rights. The roots of democracy are to be searched in social relationships, in terms of associated life among the people who form a society. For him, social relationships are the key to democracy. Ambedkar is a social democrat in spirit and practice. His special contribution to political thought lies in his linking up liberty, equality and fraternity to the concept of social democracy, which in turn, he relates to democracy as a form of government. While addressing the constituent assembly, he also categorically stated the limitations of social democracy in everyday functioning (Ambedkar 1987 25). ‘Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy’ which means, a way of life which recognize liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.’ In this sense, he defined democracy as a form and method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of people are brought about without bloodshed.
Social Democracy of Ambedkar
Ambedkar’s social vision of democracy was closely related to his ideal of a ‘good society.’ He did not leave room for any ambiguity regarding the nature of this ideal. On many occasions, he stated that he envisaged a good society as one based on ‘liberty, equality and fraternity.’ Democracy, as he saw it, was both the end and the means of this ideal. It was the end because he ultimately considered democracy as coterminous with the realisation of liberty, equality and fraternity. At the same time, democracy was also the means through which this idea was to be attained.
Ambedkar’s notion of ‘democratic government’ went back to the fundamental idea of ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people.’ But ‘democracy’ meant much more to him than democratic government. It was a way of life: ‘Democracy is not merely a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen’ (Ambedkar 406).
Another crucial feature of Ambedkar’s conception of democracy is that it was geared to social transformation and human progress. Conservative notions of democracy, such as the idea that it is mainly a device to prevent bad people from seizing power, did not satisfy him. In one of the most inspiring definitions of the term, he defined democracy as ‘a form and a method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of the people are brought about without bloodshed’ (Ambedkar 407).
Ambedkar’s passion for democracy was closely related to his commitment to rationality and the scientific outlook. At an obvious level, rationality is necessary for democratic government since public debate (an essential aspect of democratic practice) is impossible in the absence of a shared adherence to common sense, logical argument and critical enquiry. Rational thinking is even more relevant if we adopt Ambedkar’s broad view of democracy as a state of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity.’ Indeed, rationality is conducive if not indispensable to the realisation of these ideals.
Social, Political Democracy and Dalit Equality
The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the land, in a popular political sense, the Indian Constitution for the governance of the nation. In fact, the Constituent Assembly, which functions from 1946 to the end of 1949, enacted this great instrument. We call the dominant figures like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardhar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Rajagopalachari, and Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar and a galaxy of jurists, statesmen and leaders of various sections of people shaped the Constitution as the founding fathers. While towering personalities mold the founding deed, Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. The constitutive labour of the Ambedkar resulted in that remarkable product, the Indian Constitution. The enactment was complete on 26th January 1950. The Democratic Republic of India thus sprang into existence on 26th January 1950 and we observe that day every year as republic day. The clearest statement of Ambedkar’s abiding message to Indians under the free republic must begin with its and is contained in his final address to the Constituent Assembly on the day of the enactment of the Constitution was completed. He was so fearless that even Mahatma Gandhi’s creed and praxis never inhibited his expression. Essentially, he was a constitutionalist and felt in violation of Law, even in the shape of Civil Disobedience, might lead to dangerous consequences. In his speech on November 25th 1949, Ambedkar argued, ‘If we wish to maintain democracy merely in form but also in fact, what we must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitution methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. We must abandon the bloody methods for achieving economic social objectives; there was a great deal of justification for the unconstitutional methods. But where Constitutional methods are open there can be no justification for the unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and sooner they are abandoned, the better of us.’ (Krishna Iyer V.R. 30)
Ambedkar’s protest was positive for the construction of a just system where everyone had the freedom to assert his views, unafraid of defying tyrants. Influenced by the ideology of liberty propagated by Mill, Ambedkar rebelled against the caste Hinduism and its leaders. His fearless and outspoken criticism of the majority who led the masses often reminded one of the famous statements of Mill: ‘If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, that he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind’ (Krishna Iyer, V.R. 30). Though the Hindu orthodoxy made attempts to silence Ambedkar, he was a fearless challenger of Hindu orthodoxy. In tune with his spirit of actual protest for democracy, so necessary in a communal, feudal-colonial society, which often genuflected before Gods, political and religious, Ambedkar reminded the Constituent Assembly: The second thing we must do is … not ‘to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great men or to trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions. There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of Indian than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion of hero worship plays a part in its politics unequaled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the World. Bhakti in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship’ (Krishna Iyer, V.R. 31).
Political freedom according to Ambedkar has economic and religious dimensions, which often conditioned politics itself. Economic democracy was integral to and the power behind political democracy. However, there were other graver attacks on democracy, even where the rule of life gave political and economic freedoms. Negation of social justice, suppression of social equality and crippling of cultural personality dehumanized a people, even if they had the right periodically to go to the polls to choose their surrogates. Ambedkar indubitably and outstandingly brought the sharpest focus to bear on the issue of social degeneracy in society, which paid lip service to universal divinity and human oneness but practiced for centuries graded inequalities and inflicted savageries on their own brothers and sisters. Infuriated by the caste explosive genetic injustice, Ambedkar attacked this satanic deficiency in the Indian polity. He insisted that democracy would breakdown if social justice is not its actualization.
Ambedkar strongly believed that, if India were to be free, the Hindu social order must be overhauled, with its root and branch. He laid stress on Social democracy as the primary force towards political democracy. To quote Ambedkar, ‘ That political reform cannot, with impunity, take precedence over social reform in the sense of the reconstruction of society is a thesis which, I am sure, cannot be controverted’. (Ambedkar B.R, p. 10)
Ambedkar thought that a country that practices slavery could not claim for any other freedom unless and until it removes its own domination and slavery over the other. He contended that if any country was having some downtrodden communities suffering from social oppression and injustice, it must be denied political independence, on that account. To him, military force and moral force were the two chief means to political freedom. His main emphasis was on the urgency of improving the social condition of the needy and the poor. The first phase of Ambedkar’s thought and action ended in controversy; but an ardent zeal and passion for the emancipation of the downtrodden communities marked it throughout this period, he continued to uphold the need for human dignity and honesty, equality and liberty, rights and civic facilities for untouchables.
Justice should address to the history of slavery
According to Ambedkar, political freedom must be in the hands of those who are free from the clutches of Casteism. He said ‘I. therefore, appeal to you to act and utilize what little political power is coming into your hands. If you are indifferent and do not try to use it properly, your worries will have no end. Fear lurks in mind that the slavery, which we are fighting out, may overtake us again. Will this awakening of ours be short-lived’?. (Keer, Dhananjaya, p. 211) Therefore he sought for a separate treatment of the Dalits in free India. He wanted the provision of separate settlements for the Untouchables. He argued that the Untouchables were a separate element in the national life of India. In order to do justice to those who have denied of land, water, food, equality of treatment, Ambedkar stressed the need of separate electorates in the politically free India. Provision of separate electorates is meant to provide them separate accessibility to political and social power, which has been systematically denied in the caste Social order. However, the national congress leaders like Gandhi and few others did not understand him properly. Gandhi blamed Ambedkar on the ground that Ambedkar argues for ‘separatism’ as against the ‘unity of Hindu culture’. This was totally a misapprehension of the concept of social justice. Moreover, as a leader of a popular party, Congress, Gandhi wanted the ‘vote bank’ namely the numerical strength of the untouchable population to remain linked to Hindu Social order in spite that they were being treated as sub humans occupying the lowest strata of Indian society. Therefore Ambedkar’ s struggle for separate electorates and separate settlement was fully opposed by Gandhi and his congress followers. Gandhi went to the extent of ‘fast unto death’ at Poona for the sake of withdrawal of Ambedkar’s demand for a separate electorate. Such was the misunderstanding of Gandhi with respect to the notion of Justice and equality. In a specific sense, Ambedkar was forced to withdraw his demand for the separate electorates because, if Ambedkar had pressed further his demand, it would have meant death to Gandhi, the popular leader of the Congress, and as a result, great upheaval in the country. People like Nehru persuaded Ambedkar to suspend his demand for a separate electorate.
The backdrop of this historical event however has its implications. It implies that while Ambedkar’s approach to justice is both historical and social, the Gandhian and congress approach to justice is merely reformatory and politically motivated in favour of the caste-powered people.
Political Democracy is Primarily a Social Democracy
For Ambedkar political democracy is interlinked with social democracy. If social democracy is not aimed then political democracy is a failure. In a very powerful assertion, Ambedkar opines that a country could realize its political freedom only when it is socially free from its own social disabilities, namely Casteism and Untouchability. He warned that democracy would break down if its society were sick by social injustice. In his address to the Assembly, Ambedkar says, ‘The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy’. (Krishna Iyer, V.R, p. 32). For Ambedkar the three principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are the foundation stones of a politically free society. He says, ‘Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from fraternity. With equality, liberty would produce that supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It would require a constable to enforce them. We must begin by acknowledging the facet that there is complete absence of two things in Indian society. One of these is equality’. (Krishna Iyer, V.R, p. 33)
Ambedkar further warns that Indian society is rooted in the caste contradictions. A politically free India should first root out its social contradictions. He warns, ‘On the social place we have in India a society based on the principle of graded inequality, which means elevation for some and degradation for others. On the economic plane, we have a society, in which there are some who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty. On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a live of It contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one-man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one-man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.’ In this context we should notice the prophetic claim of Ambedkar. His exposure to western liberalism and adherence to social democracy always have predominance in his concept of an ideal Indian political society.
Ambedkar was not a purely speculative and idealistic political philosopher, in the conventional sense, like Plato and Aristotle. Nevertheless, he developed his own social and political ideals, which were deeply rooted in real human problems and issues, and vital human affairs. His socio-political philosophy attempted to bridge the gulf between theory and practice, materialism and spiritualism. Out of his sense of dejection with the inhuman treatment meted out to his community by the caste Hindus, his mission for the total emancipation of the servile classes from the clutches of the privileged caste Hindus, his total engagement with the predicament of Indian society, evolved Ambedkar’s political ideology. The book aims to juxtapose Ambedkar’s socio-political philosophy and its impact on Indian society and polity with reference to man and society, state and government, nation and nationalism, democracy, socialism, security, social justice, education and emancipation of the downtrodden. However, other aspects of Ambedkar’s political philosophy and his charismatic personality are also incidentally covered. For Ambedkar, social and political theories are the basic need of freedom for the downtrodden people, as it would create a powerful community and nation building. Ambedkar said that social equality was a force which promises equal opportunity to all.
Ambedkar’s opinion is equality in society as equality is the foundation stone where the notions of liberty and fraternity develop. He remarked that equality is the original notion and respect for human personality is a reflection of it. If equality is denied, everything else may be taken to be denied. (Jatava, 1965.77) Ambedkar also recognised the fact that the lofty ideals expressed in the Constitution would remain as they were, given the nature of contradictions inherent in society. Absence of equality on the social and economic plane is a cause of contradictions. This has resulted in a society based on the principle of graded inequality on the social plane which means elevation for some and degradation for others. On the economic plane there are some in society who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty. To deny equality in social and economic life would be putting political democracy in peril. If the contradictions are not removed, those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which Constituent Assembly has laboriously built up.
Ambedkar observes that politics is to be realistic and not merely idealistic. He says that the political structure rests on the social structure; indeed, the social structure may modify the political structure in its working, may nullify it, and may even make a mockery of it. He observes that the position in India is totally complicated, because the social structure is based on the caste system. The caste system has a tremendous effect on Indian political life. According to Ambedkar, in India, the majorities are of two sorts: (1) a communal majority (2) a political majority. A political majority is always changeable in its composition, while a communal majority is unchangeable. The political majority according to Ambedkar is positive whereas the communal majority is destructive of the integrity of the country.
For Ambedkar that there is nothing fixed nothing eternal: that everything is changing, that change is the law of life for individuals as well as for society. The system of democracy if it does not work should be changed to an alternate system, which is conducive in protecting liberty, equality and fraternity of humans. To him, everything is vanishing and there is nothing that is permanent ill human history. He does not believe that human truth is alone. He says, that No single individual can presume the authority that he knows everything, that he can make laws and carry on the Government. According to him, ‘no thinking human being can be tied down to a view in the name of consistency; more important than consistency, in a democratic way of life, is social responsibility, for there can be no finality in thinking’. Change is the hallmark of a society to be democratic in the real sense of the term.
To Ambedkar, democracy is not merely a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen. His concept of democracy attaches more importance to society than to the state.
The final conclusion is any movement for social or political reform which claims to be promoting freedom in some form or other (social justice, social transformation, etc.) is guaranteed a measure of respect. Few among us would want to be identified as hostile to freedom of human beings. Ambedkar is a symbol of dalit identity, inspiring several social and political movements with a view to restoring dignity to the so-called downtrodden. Ambedkar’s methods and solutions for the advancement of Untouchables, through legal and constitutional measures seems more in tune with the realities of Indian social order ‘to change the caste Hindus.’ It is not surprising that the guiding ideology of the Untouchables and other backward castes in modern India.
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