One man one value was the egalitarian message of Dr. BhīmraoBabasaheb Ramji
Ambedkar, a revolutionary who challenged the social order where the
contradiction of caste and class enjoyed a prominent role through centuries. Dr.
Ambedkar battled to change the existing social order which stood upon caste and
class and tried to plant the seed of ‘social justice' by advocating various
issues pertaining to plight of caste system and untouchability, human rights,
labourers, women rights and above all the Indian politics. Born in the family
of mahar in Maharashtra, he had to face all the indignities and discrimination
that an untouchable was destined to face.
So he arose out of inequalities and humiliation throughout his life and stood
for the establishment ofsociety based on the socio-economic and political
justice as his whole life itself is a perennial source of saga of social
justice. The idea of social justice is built upon the foundation of ‘liberty,
equality and fraternity' where every person residing is capable of getting equal
opportunities. So this paper basically deals with the principles of Dr. Ambedkar
which are necessary to strengthen the arena of social justice.
Concept of social justice
Social justice implies that all benefits and privileges in the society should be
shared by all its members. If there is any structural inequalitytowards any
particular section, the government should take affirmative action in eliminating
such inequalities. In simple terms it is related to the idea of positive
liberalism and with the concept of welfare state. It stands for that kind of
state whose functions are not limited to law and order but are extended to take
care of the people who are not in a position to help themselves. According to
Ambedkar, his social justice is based on moral values and self -respect. Justice
situates through social, political and economic justices regulated by
Ambedkar's reflection on Hindu social system vis a vis untouchability
Ambedkar wanted to reorganise the society on equality and rationality, therefore
opposed the caste based on social structure which he thought, was characterised
by graded inequalities. According to Ambedkar, the Hindu Society, in common was
composed of four classes namely, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishya and Shudhras. These
classes became an enclosed unit called caste and brought with it unequal
distribution of benefits and privileges. He was a staunch believer that in order
to make a society based on equality and fraternity, the caste system must
abolish, so being the victim of such discrimination, he decided to give his life
to fight battle against this system.
Caste implies a system in which status and occupation are hereditary and descend
from father to son. With the development of caste, all the requirements of just
social order were lost. With the fixation of individuals into castes and
sub-caste, their status and occupation were fixed by birth. The individual was
not a free human to choose his course of action. Such system of regarding the
status of individual by birth lead to disorganisation of Hindu society.
The Shudras became the worst sufferers as their position was worse than slaves,
they were denied basic access to water, wells, temple was out of reach and they
were forced to live in dirty places in the outskirts of villages. Their touch
shadow or mere voice was enough to pollute the caste Hindus.Ambedkar himself
probed the caste system. His three tracts are annihilation of caste, who were
Shudras? and the untouchables. His findings were as follows. Initially Varna's
were based on worth but in the course of time worth was replaced to birth and
the four Varna's were regarded as castes. The principle of graded inequality
fixed the contact between castes.
There was according to Ambedkar a close relation between caste system and
untouchability. It was therefore not possible to abolish the one without
abolishing the other. There can be no severance between the two as
untouchability is the extension of caste system. he opined that the two stand
together and fall together. He therefore favoured abolition of caste system and
reorganisation of society on the basis on equality, liberty and fraternity only
then social justice could be achieved.
After several movements and struggles of Ambedkar to abolish the evil of
untouchability, laws were incorporated in the Indian Constitution to commemorate
the great oppression faced by the untouchables. Article 17 of the Indian
Constitution abolished untouchability and declared it as a punishable
act. According to this, no one can restrict the Dalit's or Harijans from
entering temples, streets, buses, etc. the constitution also provides
reservation to these class by virtue of article 15(4) and 29(2) read with
article 341 of the Indian constitution.
Ambedkar and ‘state socialism
The theory of state socialism in India has developed by Dr. Ambedkar. He
submitted a memorandum entitled as ‘State and Minorities' in the constituent
assembly on behalf of all India schedule caste federation in the year 1946. In
his memorandum he opined that any privilege or extra privilege arising out of
any rank, birth, caste or sub-caste should be abolished in order to achieve
social democracy. Ambedkars concept of State Socialism is based on the following
- State ownership of agriculture and key industries to meet the demand of
poorer strata of society.
- Maintenance of productive resources by state.
- A just distribution of common produce among the different people without
any distinction within caste or creed.
The aims and objectives of his state socialism are to remove the extreme
inequalities and evil caste system from the society. The concept of state
socialism is based on principles on justice.
To him, men are different from each other by virtue of their birth, mental
ability, faculty, hereditary and social atmosphere but they should enjoy equal
opportunities for their upliftment.
The state socialism does not want to abolish the state but stands for removing
the evil of capitalist discrimination, ambedkar believed that state alone can
remove exploitation and can promote collective welfare. The means of production
must be nationalised.
At the round table conference Dr. Ambedkar argued with the soul of social
justice and the indictment not merely of caste system but also of stratified
classes of injustice everywhere. To strengthen the position of depressed classes
and tribal, he demanded special reservation for them in legislature and public
These productive measures were desideratum because he knew the social position
would not change even if country is free from foreign rule. He also championed
for the cause of women progress through various movements and legislations as
well. He called upon to abolish the Devadasi system and advocated to women's
right to education, property and divorce through the Hindu Code Bill (1951).
He also propounded the labour charter which has been the guidelines for labour
welfare in the independent India. He also advocated the holiday benefits,
maternity benefit, health and sanitation and social security for the welfare of
labours. So to establish a state control society based on liberty, equality,
morality and fraternity, it is needed to apply all kinds of equalities to all
the fields of social, economic, political.
The study concludes that Ambedkar's notion of social justice is based on liberty
and dignity and as a result of his thought Indian constitution guarantees equal
rights to all irrespective of caste. It is because of his round the clock effort
that diminished the oppression of Dalit to some extent.
The reason why I mentioned to some extent is, even though the constitution has
protected the rights of oppressed, even though the revolutionaries sacrificed
their lives for equality, still they face discrimination on daily basis may be
the degree has decreased but not the oppression.
It is because of the lack of knowledge on the part of so called upper caste. Of
course Varna system has conferred different classes, different duties but
nowhere it has conferred any privilege or the sense of domination on the part of
upper caste. So the only thing caste system is achieved is, it disorganised the
very social order of the society. From the denial of basic public necessities
to becoming one of the many Presidents, India has still a long way to achieve
the quest of Social Justice.
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