Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, popularly also recognized as Babasaheb was a great patriot, social –political thinker, educationist, economist and administrator, political reformer, parliamentarian, constitutionalist of high order and a revivalist for Buddhism in India. He was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution.. . These reformers were prominent part of India Freedom Struggle which is part of UPSC mains GS paper 1.
- Dr B. R. Ambedkar
Dr. B. R. AMBEDKAR
- He was a true renaissance man, a person who excelled in many different areas of inquiry.
- Ambedkar was champion of social justice. His thought is centrally concerned with issues of freedom, human equality, democracy and socio-political emancipation.
- Ambedkar has often been described as one of the chief architects of the constitution. He was a revolutionary social reformer who demonstrated great faith in democracy and the moral basis of a society.
- Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1990. Ambedkar's life was shaped and influenced by his bitter and degrading personal experiences as untouchables.
LIFE & INFLUENCES
- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born in the untouchable Caste in Maharashtra on 14 April, 1891. He suffered all kinds of social humiliations in childhood as well as in his subsequent life on account of the stigma of untouchability.
- In spite of all these hurdles, he successfully completed his graduation from Bombay University and went on to do his Master’s and Ph.D. from Columbia University in U.S.A.
- He was influenced by the liberal and radical thought currents in America and Europe, more particularly with the thought that emerged following the French Revolution.
- He formed the Bahishbit Hitkarini Sabha ( Depressed Classes Welfare Association) in1924. He started the fortnightly journal Bahishkrit Bharat in Marathi and formed two organisations, Samaj Samata Sangh and Samata Saillik Dal in 1927 to 1-einforce the demand for equality of the depressed classes. In 1928, the Depressed Classes Education Society, Bombay was founded.
- He was appointed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution and became the law minister in the Nehru Cabinet in August 1947. Arnbedkar was a bitter critic of Gandhi and Gandhism.
- His quest of knowing the roots of social evils can be seen in his writings of "The Untouchables", ''The Shudra, Who were they and how they come to be the fourth varna of Indo- Aryan society", "Caste in India, its mechanism, genesis and development" , "Hindu Social Order:
- Its essential principles", "Philosophy of Hinduism" and 'Annihilation of Caste". His social ideas were shaped during his formative years and matured in his later stages of life but it remained focus on the desire for the uplift of the down-trodden, which found expression in all his social ideas.
CONTRIBUTION OR SOCIO-POLITICAL IDEAS OF AMBEDKAR
Arnbedkar made lot of contributions in the spheres of understanding individual, caste, Hindu Social order, champion of human rights, problems of Hindu women, Indian minorities, nation and nation building.
Opposition to Caste System:
- The caste system is not just a division of labour, but a hierarchical division of labourers. According to Ambedkar, the Hindu scheme of social structure based on the four Varnas or Chaturvarna breeds inequality and has been the parent of the caste-system and untouchability which are merely forms of inequality.
- To him, the 'principle of graded inequality' was prevailing in Hindu society - divided the society both vertically and horizontally. He founded the ‘Bahiskrit Hitkarini Sabha’ for the upliftment of the depressed classes.
- He wanted the public services to be made responsive to the needs of the weaker sections. Annihilation of Caste is one of the foremost monographs published by Ambedkar aimed at explaining the exploitative nature of caste and calling for its annihilation in order to secure a social order based on equal status and dignity for all.
- Ambedkar was a practical reformer who after taking stock of the whole situation came to the conclusion that very little could be achieved in the practical field in the effort of abolition of caste system.
- He converted to Buddhism and is also credited with providing a spark for the transformation of hundreds of thousands of Dalits or untouchables to Theravada Buddhism. He suggested that 'education, organization and agitation' were the key elements needed for the same
- Social reform was always the first priority of Dr. Ambedkar. He whispered that the economic and political issues should be resolved only after achieving the goal of social justice. Ambedkar distinguished the institution of untouchability from that of caste although the former too is stamped by the same principle of graded inequality as the fatter. Untouchability is not merely an extreme form of caste degradation but a qualitatively different one as the system kept the untouchable outside the fold and made any social interaction with him polluting and deplorable.
- Ambedkar dwelt extensively on major religions of the world, particularly Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. Ambedkar did not go against Hinduism, but he has heavily criticized Hindu caste/Varna system. For him, the Hindu social order is the root cause of various social evils perpetuated in various forms in the Indian society. Hinduism is responsible for the abominable conditions of the down-trodden, especially of lower caste and women. The inequality in Hinduism is a religious doctrine adopted and conscientiously preached as a sacred dogma. To him, the depressed class was denied basic right under systematic oppresion in Hindusm. The triumphant Brahmanism began its onslaught on both shudra and women in pursuit of the ideal of servility. He blamed Manu for treating women in more or less similar way as the shudra
- He was convinced that for social justice and progress of the nation it was essential that conditions of women should be improved a lot. He stood for the economic equality of women and vehemently pleaded for the spread of women education. Ambedkar's idea of social justice was based on our indigenous historical, social and cultural roots. His dream of a society based on socio- economic justice human dignity and equality. He challenged the existing beliefs and deep rooted sometimes of the society and changed the society to be the vehicle of modern values of objectivity and autonomy of reason in the affairs of men
- Ambedkar drafted the provisions in the constitution of India that are guaranteed every citizens the social, economic, political and culture rights. Ambedkar’s view was that, the government is answerable to all of society's problems, to socioeconomic political cultural civic. The essential sense of the State, as a political community, consists in that the society and people composing it are master and sovereign of their own future. In post-independence India, the inclusion of ‘judicial review’ was a necessary device to give teeth to the individual and group rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Ambedkar described the provision enabling the same as the ‘heart of the Constitution’. He had a clear vision of an ideal or just society based on liberty, equality and fraternity.
- B R Ambedkar has given the constitutional remedies - milestones of public interest litigations. He wanted to incorporate legal safeguards in the Constitution of India and to bring regulatory reforms to bring equalities and to pave way for positive discriminations towards depressed classes including women
- Ambedkar was a great admirer of Parliamentary system of Government. According to him, there are three inherent characteristics of the system. Firstly, free and fair elections from time to time. Secondly, in the form of government no single individual can presume the authority that he knows everything and that he can make the laws and carry the government. The laws are to be made by the representatives of the people. Finally, the elected representatives, the legislatures and ministers must have the confidence of the people renewed in themselves at given periodicity
- Ambedkar favoured the functional theory of the state. The state was a legal and constitutional system that represented the principle of He holds the liberal notion of the state where the state represents the collective will of the society through law and hence becomes legitimized. Ambedkar' s idea of a federal state attaches more importance to institutional means for the solution of human affairs
- Ambedkar's ideas on justice are closely linked up with his concept of democracy both as a form of government and a "mode of associated life". Ambedkar also rejected Gandhi's Sarvodaya theory of social justice which associated both religion and the welfare of citizens. Ambedkar is also one of the proponents of social justice in Modern India. He tried to achieve social justice and social democracy in terms of 'one man-one value'. His view on social justice was to remove man made inequalities of all shape through law, morality and public conscience.
AMBEDKAR ON SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
- The most prevalent form of Government at the present time is ‘Democracy’. In the West, the Greeks claim to have invented the Democracy. The term ‘democracy’ has derived from the Greek term ‘demos’ and ‘kratos’, means people and government.
- Aristotle, father of Political Science, defined democracy is a form of government in which supreme power is in the hands of freemen. This classical definition of democracy found echoes in John Stuart Mill and Thomas Jefferson.
- Jefferson preferred that form of democracy which provided a “government by its citizen in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority.
- To Walter Bagehot, democracy as “Government by discussion”. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
- As a liberal thinker, Ambedkar was a hardcore believer in the value of constitutional democracy having irrevocable elements of social and economic democracies, in addition to political democracy.
- In fact, Ambedkar understood it very well that the Western pattern of democracy is not applicable to Indian scenario. He strived hard for the establishment of democracy in post-independence India. He expressed his anguish over the last of the entire past heritage.
- Ambedkar viewed democracy as an instrument of bringing in relation to the change peacefully. Democracy does not merely mean rule by the majority or government by the representatives of the people.
- To him, the Hindu Social System divided the society into Varnas and Castes and also denied the existence of liberty, equality and fraternity which are the deepest concern of democracy.
- If in democracy liberty does not destroy equality and equality does not destroy liberty, it is because at the base of both there is fraternity. Fraternity is, therefore, the root of democracy.
- Democracy was lost in Brahminic India. Ambedkar interpreted the concept of democracy in Indian context. In his opinion, democracy is not as a fixed dogma, it always changes its form, it is not always the same in the same country and that it always undergoes changes in purpose.
- Ambedkar realized that a mere distinction between state and society, state and government and the state and nation are not enough to serve the purpose.
- The views of J.S.Mill, Harold.J. Laski and MacIver on democracy were not appropriate in Indian social system because it failed to focus on the social relationship between the people who form a society. Indian society, to Ambedkar, is based on Castes and everything is organized on the basis of caste.
- The Indian society does not consist of individuals; it consists of collection of castes with utter lack of bond of sympathy or co-operation. The existence of the Caste is a standing denial to the ideals of democracy.10
- He viewed “Democracy in this country is like a summer sapling. Without social unity, the roots of sapling cannot be strengthened. If social unity is not achieved this summer sapling of democracy, will be rooted out with gust of summer wind”.
- He said that there are certain fundamental considerations which go to the roots of democracy and which cannot be ignored without putting democracy in peril. Ambedkar considered democracy as a historical movement.
- A government for the people is only possible when the attitude of each individual is democratic that means each individual is prepared to treat every other individual as his equal and is supposed to give him same liberty which he claims for himself.
- This democratic attitude of mind is the result of socialisation of the individual in a democratic society. Democratic society is therefore a prerequisite of a democratic government.
- By “Democracy” Ambedkar meant, “a form and method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of the people are brought about without bloodshed”.
- He further said that “Democracy was a state of policy where, the governing class failed to capture powers to govern others and where the majority takes the reign of the instrumentalities of the state”.
- For Ambedkar, “Democracy is not merely a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living of conjoint communicated experience and to be searched in the social relationship.
- It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen”. He believed democracy means no slavery, no caste, and no coercion. Democracy is not a gift of nature.
- It is a habit of social living and can be acquired by the people themselves for their emancipation and well being.
- He was a political realist; therefore, he regarded democracy in its practical aspect as the social organisation of the people in the sense that the people included all members of society.
- Thus he remarked, “A democratic society must assure a life of leisure and culture to each one of its citizens”. The main concern of his life was to make democracy safe for the common man and for the good of his country.
- He regarded that the democratic principles of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were essentials in human life.
- He supported the ideas of Constitutional separation of religion and state, the provision of fundamental rights, and the assignment of important functions to the Judiciary for strengthening the roots of democracy in India.
- For him, the purpose of modern democracy was to being about the welfare of the people. the perpetual rule of one class or a political party, the monopoly of the means of production in a few hands, the curtailment of civil liberties, the blind faith in democratic leaders, the atmosphere of fear and oppression, the misuse of political authority, the negative use of political recourses, etc., are some of the vices that can invariably damage the basic structure of democracy.
- The fundamental elements of his concept of democracy were liberty, equality, fraternity, natural rights and justice. He believes that these are essential for complete development of personality and capacities of every person.
- He believed that democracy offers every individual to achieve social equality, economic justice and political justice guaranteed in the Preamble of the Constitution.
- Therefore, in the Constituent Assembly he had stated that mere securing political democracy is not sufficient. It should be followed by establishing social democracy and economic equality.
- His vision was the foundation of social democracy in India. According to Ambedkar, “We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the lease of it social democracy”.
- Democracy is a mode of associated living. The roots of democracy are to be searched in social relationship, in terms of the associated life between the people who form the society.
AMBEDKAR ON STATE SOCIALISM
- Ambedkar studied several features of Marxism and favoured some Marxist principles. He usually subscribed to the material view of history and agreed to the need for a total change for bringing in relation to the equality.
- He also accepted the thought of public ownership of property. Though, he did not become a Marxist. The other significant diversity of socialism was Democratic Socialism. Ambedkar's firm belief in democracy attracted him to this ideology.
- He felt that socialism necessity function within a democratic framework. Democracy and socialism need not be opposed to each other. Therefore, in 1947, Ambedkar propounded the thought of 'State socialism'.
- Even earlier, when fie recognized the Self-governing Labour Party in 1937, he had adopted a broadly socialist programme. The name of the party itself designates that it was to be a party of all depressed classes.
- Its programme incorporated state management of significant industries and bringing in relation to the a presently economic system. The party wanted to ensure minimum average of livelihood for agricultural and industrial workers.
- State socialism means that the state would implement a socialist programme by controlling the industrial and agricultural sectors. To him, the state will actively manage both the industry and the agriculture.
- This will ensure equitable sharing of wealth and protect the needy and the poor. Rapid industrial progress and welfare of all the parts of the civilization will be the responsibility of the state.
- Though, the democratic organizations such as the parliament will also remain intact. In 1947, Ambedkar suggested that the Constitution of India should incorporate the principle of State Socialism.
- This thought of State Socialism shows that Ambedkar was aware of the troubles of poverty and economic inequality. So, he attached much importance to the role of the government. Government, just as to him, has to perform the role of a welfare agency.
- It has to ensure rapid progress and presently sharing of the fruits of that progress.
Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the foremost thinkers of modern India. Ambedkar was a great social revolutionary. The social thought of Ambedkar basically revolves around the idea of understanding the dynamics of caste system in India and waging a tireless crusade against the curse of untouchability. He emphasizes that democracy is a tool in the hand of ordinary people to further their interests and safeguard human values and dignity. His vision was not to establish a mere political democracy but social democracy, what he calls a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principle of life. He endeavoured to rouse self consciousness and self respect among the Depressed Classes. Resting on Ambedkar’s thoughts, the Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to all, based on social justice and human dignity.
Dr. Ambedkar fought to eradicate the social evils like untouchability and for the rights of the dalits and other socially backward classes throughout his life. Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as India's first Law Minister in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour in 1990. His contribution will be some of the most imortant ones in Indian History To read more articles on Modern India History click here