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Ambedkar´┐Żs Idea Of Social Justice- Some Reflections

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 ´┐Żsocial 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 ´┐Żliberty, 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 constitution.

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 ´┐Żstate socialism'

The theory of state socialism in India has developed by Dr. Ambedkar. He submitted a memorandum entitled as ´┐ŻState 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 points;
  • 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 services.

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. 

End Notes:
  • Shukla. V. N, Constitution Of India (13th Ed. Eastern Book Company, 2017)
  • Mallik, Basanta Kumar. ´┐ŻThe Concept Of Social Justice: With Reference To Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.´┐Ż Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 57, 1996, pp. 759´┐Ż760., Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.
  • Narendra Jadhav. ´┐ŻNeglected Economic Thought of Babasaheb Ambedkar.´┐Ż Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 26, no. 15, 1991, pp. 980´┐Ż982. JSTOR, Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.
  • Tiwari, Shailender Kumar. ´┐ŻSOCIAL JUSTICE: GANDHI AND AMBEDKAR.´┐Ż The Indian Journal of Political Science, vol. 70, no. 2, 2009, pp. 429´┐Ż439. JSTOR, Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.
  • A Ranjeetkumar. ´┐ŻAmbedkars Notion On Social Justice- A Different Perspective.´┐Ż International Journal Of Scientific And Engineering And Scientific Research, Vol 2 Issue 12.
  • Singh, C. D. ´┐ŻDr. Ambedkar Perceives Caste System As Inherently Pernicious.´┐Ż The Indian Journal of Political Science, vol. 72, no. 2, 2011, pp. 523´┐Ż527. JSTOR, Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.

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