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B.R. Ambedkar, while agreeing with the broad outlines of Nehru’s resolution and expressing his support for it, declared that an agenda for social transformation should also have been part of it. In his reply to the debate on the final draft of the Constitution of India on the 25th of November, 1949, this is what Ambedkar said: “On 26th January 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future.” Referring to the principles laid down in the draft Constitution, Ambedkar cautioned the Indian people about three dangers: (a) The first one was about the use of unconstitutional methods to achieve one’s aims. He said that “the first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives(b) The second warning was to caution the Indian people not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions...” He said that the danger of hero-worship was all the more relevant to India where “Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics, unequalled 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 the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.” (c) The third warning given by Ambedkar concerned the idea of social justice. This is what he said: “We must not 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.” Stating that liberty cannot be divorced from equality and fraternity, Ambedkar pointed out to the complete lack of equality in Indian society, he said:  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. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many… Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. 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 fact that there is complete absence of two things in Indian Society. One of these is equality. On the social plane, we have in India a society based on the principle of graded inequality in which there are some who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty.”  Ambedkar saw the caste system as one of the great hindrances to social equality and social democracy in India. More than seventy years later today, caste politics has, instead of being weakened, strengthened itself because of the wrong policies of the governments that have been in power. At the same time the contradictions in Indian society emerging from graded inequality structured into our societies plus the increasing rich-poor divide is bound to lead to serious areas of conflict. Referring to this, Ambedkar comments: “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 so 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 (Constituent) Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

These are significant words indeed from the main architect of the Constitution of India, the Preamble of which promises to “secure to all its citizens Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith an worship; Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.” Perhaps it is time to frequently recall these words of the Preamble 
which embody the fundamentals marking the Constitution. Ambedkar’s words re-iterate the fact that minus social democracy, true political democracy as enshrined in the Constitution could eventually end in a cul-de-sac.

Editorial note prepared by:
Dr Udayon Misra
Former Professor, Department of English
Dibrugarh University

We sincerely acknowledge with heartful thanks to respected Dr Udayon Misra sir for enlightening our minds from the Editors’ Desk with an invaluable piece of write up titled as “On Democracy and Social Justice.”

Dr Udayon Misra sir is former Professor and Head of the Department of English, Dibrugarh University, Assam; former National Fellow, Indian Council of Social and Historical Research, New Delhi and also of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla

We are certainly deficient to say more, but once again we sincerely express our gratitude to him that sparing his valuable time he has graced this Issue with a most valuable editorial piece. His blessings will lead us towards miles ahead. We wish him a good health and very happy life.

Editorial Team

1 comment:

  1. I am impressed. I don't think I've met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. You are truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog you have got here.
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