Ambedkar and his idea of the Constitution

By | January 8, 2019
Constituent Assembly - Journey And Challenges

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Ambedkar’s idea of the constitution was to have a society where there is harmony among its members and where everybody lives with dignity. And if the rights of an individual which are necessary for his survival or maintaining his dignity are violated he has every right to seek justice through the procedure established by the law.

However good a constitution may be, it is sure

to turn out bad because those who are called to

work it, happen to be bad. However bad

a Constitution may be, it may turn out good if

Those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.

-Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, politician, orator, economist, writer, anthropologist and social reformer.

He is popularly known as Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is the principal architect of Indian constitution and first law and justice minister of Independent India.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was one of the most ambitious leaders, pursuer of the target, knowledgeable, determined and recipient of highest degrees. Due to these qualities, he was appointed as chairman of the drafting committee of the constituent assembly on August 26, 1947. H was an advocate of human rights and promoted equal rights to all citizens irrespective of gender, caste and religion.

Born in a Dalit family, he had to face discrimination from time to time. He fought for Dalit rights and made sure that their interests are represented fully. While drafting the constitution he made sure that the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and outlawing all forms of discrimination. He also won Assembly’s support for introducing reservations in judicial services, schools and colleges for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. India’s lawmakers hoped to eradicate socio-economic inequalities, lack of opportunities through these measures, which were originally envisioned as temporary, on a need basis.

Some Features of Draft Constitution:

Parliamentary system

The application of the British parliamentary system to India meant Cabinet is formed by the majority party, in India the majority is a communal majority. No matter what social and political programs it may have, the majority will always retain its character of being a communal majority.

Centre made strong

Dr Ambedkar gave more powers to the central government thus making it strong. Many members of the assembly criticized him stating that his efforts of protecting individual rights and minority rights were contradictory to the stand he took. He justified it saying that this will not only protect the rights of minorities but also promote individual interests as a whole.

Fundamental rights

In the Draft Constitution, Fundamental Rights (Part III) were justifiable in the Court of Law. He characterized Article 32 i.e. Right to Constitutional remedies as the very soul of the constitution and a very heart of it. To him, fundamental rights meant the establishment of equality and liberty in order to reform our social structure.

Equality before law

Ambedkar’s vision of equality can be clearly comprehended in Article 14, Article 15 and Article 17. Article 14 says that the ‘State will not deny any person equality before the laws or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.’ Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 17 of the Constitution abolishes ‘untouchability’ and outlaws its practice in any form.

National Integration

In the Draft Constitution, Dr Ambedkar prescribed single citizenship, single judiciary and uniformity of fundamental laws to integrate Indian society. Hence, a strong Centre was indispensable to achieve administrative discipline.

Ambedkar defined democracy as a better form of government than any other forms. He further explained in the constituent assembly  on 19 November 1948 that, “the reason why we have established in this constitution a political democracy is because we do not install by any means a perpetual dictatorship of any particular body of people.” His faith in democracy can also be read in his other writings where he argued that “we must not only be staunch in our faith of democracy but we must resolve to see that in whatever we do, we don’t help the enemies of democracy to uproot the principles like liberty, equality, fraternity. The third thing we must do is not to be contend with mere political democracy. The three principles of liberty, equality and fraternity should not be treated as separate items. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality. Equality cannot be divorced from liberty nor can equality and liberty be divorced from the fraternity.”

Ambedkars idea of the constitution was to have a society where there is harmony among its members and where everybody lives with dignity.

And if the rights of an individual which are necessary for his survival or maintaining his dignity are violated he has every right to seek justice through the procedure established by the law. He said that in order to maintain India’s democracy not merely in form but also in fact, the first thing to be done is resort to constitutional measures for achieving social and economic objectives. He wanted all of us to abandon methods such as civil disobedience, non-co-operation and satyagraha. When constitutional methods are open there can be no justification for the unconstitutional methods. In his view, these methods were nothing but anarchy. Nowadays incidents such as mob lynching, abduction, sexual harassment, social injustice point out to communal disharmony and corrupt mentality of the members of the society. There are many so-called left-wing activists who use him as a model to seek their rights while resorting to the methods which were abhorred by him.

On 26 November 1949 in his speech in the Constituent Assembly Dr Ambedkar said:

“On 26 January 1950, we are going to enter the life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality but in social life, we will have inequality. In politics, one man – one vote and one vote -one value. In our social and economic life, 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 deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for log we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction as in earliest moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy so laboriously built by this assembly.”

Dr Ambedkar fought for the representation of Dalits by giving them the reservation.

Dalits were socially vulnerable and poor and giving them reservation was his idea of uplifting the downtrodden and giving them parity with upper-class. However, he also emphasized that this reservation is only temporary and we cannot afford to have this contradiction to the right to equality for a long time if we want to live in a democratic society. Political parties in India used his idea of reservation as a means to gain votes. They indulged into vote bank politics to lure people to vote for them instead of moral politics which is the basis of political democracy.

It is necessary to understand why he considered the values of liberty, equality and fraternity to be important. He enumerated these values to develop kinship in society. Instead, some intellectuals in our society use it to contort his idea and take undue advantage of the masses.

The question that we really need to ask ourselves is “Do we really stand by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s idea of the constitution?”

By Priyanka Chauhan

Government Law College, Mumbai

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Author: Priyanka

Student at Government Law College Mumbai