B.R.Ambedkar:Liberal Democracy and Constitutional Morality

B.R.Ambedkar:Liberal Democracy and Constitutional Morality

Articles, Blog , , 1 Comment

Hello and welcome friends to this third and
concluding lecture on B R Ambedkar in this lecture we are going to discuss his views
on liberal democracy and constitutional morality. In previous two lecture we have basically
discussed his views on caste and untouchability and how to annihilatecaste or remove untouchabilityfrom
the society and how an ideal society which is based on the principle of liberty, equality
and fraternity isimpossible toconstruct without annihilating the caste or the caste system.
And, whatare the methods or how thatah exploitativesystem of caste have justification even in the contemporary
times and howeffectively that can be in annihilated that we have discussed through hiswritings
primarilyhis textannihilation of caste. Today,we are going to discuss his views on
liberal democracy and constitutional morality . So, remember there are differentstrands
of thought in Ambedkar and basicallyum some scholars have argued and inreception or inah
identifying Ambedkar merely as a caste thinker or a leader who was trying to eradicate untouchability
do notdo justice to the role of Ambedkar as a national leader as a democratic thinker
orsomeone who was a deeply or intellectually involved in the making of a country or a society
which should bebased on the principles ofliberty equality and fraternity and the interrelationship
between these three principles are necessary not just in political life or in the legal
aspire, but also in the social and economic aspire.
So, for him democracy is all encompassing way of life a a mode of associated living
where themutual respect or a respect of others thecompassion or the fellow feeling is the
basis for the formation ofsuch society which is for him an ideal society. So,ah Ambedkarwas
deeply involved orah consists of the challenges orthe obstructions and impediments in the
realisation of a such societyandhe said with manyscholars about the sceptical, scepticism
about the possibility ofof India as a nation or Indian nationalism which is inherentlydivided
into different groups different sections and it treats each other with contempt orthere
is graded hierarchy. So, in such condition how astate or how a
government or a democratic government can sustain itself and that is the challenge which
Ambedkar was trying to trying tounderstand and also provide solution to and he considered
liberal democracy and by liberal democracyand the method that he has used is always non
violent or a kind ofSatyagraha in his own way to fight for thelegitimate rights ofthe
untouchables or the Dalits and also to resolve the social issues or thechallenges through
the peaceful method through the constitutional method when it is available.
When it is not available then one can understand the politics suchah such as extra constitutional
politics of say non corporation or other modes of hesitations, but when the constitutional
methods are available then a societymustah proceed by following that method that process
of constitutional method to resolve its issues to address itit concerns. So,Ambedkar was
trying tounderstand thefeasibility or the umappropriateness of such constitutional method
in a society which is deeply divided on caste lines, on religious lines and there is a graded
hierarchyah which prevent it toto to develop a kind of fellow feeling or mutual respect
toah different sections or differentgroups. So, forAmbedkar inthat sense democracy needs
to be supplemented or political democracy needs to be supplemented with the social democracy
and social democracy in that sense remains the best for the liberalpolitical democracy
tosustain or tocontinue. He writes on aliberal democracy that, a democratic
form of government presupposes a democratic form of a society now which is missing in
India and that is the challenge how to overcome this discrepancies in the political democracy
and absence of social democracy. So, a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic
form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit
if there was no social democracy. So, understanding of Ambedkar is very comprehensive
as to what is the role of democracy and he tries to strengthen or tries to question the
a policy makers in the constitution assembly and one of the quote we will discuss later,
where he clearly express or assert this life of contradiction for the democracy in post
independent India and how to eradicate such contradictions. So, for Ambedkar then the
liberal democracy or the political democracy is not something which is complete in itself
if there is absence of social democracy. So, social democracy or the social economic democracy
is the base on which political democracycan flourish. So,this is absolutely necessary
in his conception of democracy. He was one of the passionate supporter of
the liberal democracy which treats individual on the basis of his or her worth and not on
the basis of his or her inheritance or his station of life in the hierarchy, but on the
basis of the merit or the worth of individual and the free discussion or deliberation as
the basis or as the method of social progress orsocial economic change and thatah Ambedkar
wholeheartedlyahaccepted and also therefore, he criticize many ideologies certainly communist
socialist and alsotheconservative Hinduism or separatistMuslims. His belief in liberal
democracy and deliberative process of resolving conflict, resolving concerns allowed him to
criticize or the communist socialist and also the cultural chauvinistic organisation such
as Hindu Mahasabha orMuslim league ormany such organisations which believed in some
kind of revivalistpolitics or extra constitutional means to create or to create an ideal society.
For Ambedkar the ideal society or the modern religion should be based on the tripartite
relationship between the princ[iple]-between the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity
and that becomes the very basis for his idealization of society as well as the a state orthe form
of government. So,ah Ambedkar have a very comprehensive or a kind of very passionate
support for liberal democracy or deliberative modesofresolving conflict or asserting rightsah
even by those who are disposes. So, he reject any violentmodes of agitation and politics
in support ofliberalconstitutional or parliamentary mode of politics.
So, his support for liberal democracy is both in its form and practice was the ideal form
of government for him and he had a very comprehensive understanding of liberal democracies, its
practices and also its limitations. So, he believed in the representative form of government,
but democracy for him was more than mere representation. In his own words democracy is not merely a
form of government it is primarily a mode of associated living of conjoint communicated
experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen.
So, that is a kind of all encompassing definition and understanding of democracy in Ambedkar
which is much more than a form of government or nearly a form of government which ensure
representation. For Ambedkar democracy is something which enables a kind of associated
life whichhelp in a creating a culture of mutual respect and reverence among the fellowmen
andmen and women. WhyI have said that hewhen he isah aware of
thevalue or theapplication of liberal principles or liberal democracy when a society like India
which is divided on caste lands, linguistic lands or religious lands ah, he is also equally
aware of it is limitation where there is a lack of focus on the equalequality and this
point we will discuss later certainly in thecontext where he is arguing aboutah this absence of
social and economic democracy will lead to the partial of liberal democracy or the window
dressing merely. So, his conception of democracy is related
to his idea of a good society that treats everyone with equality and with dignity and
without contempt. So, he defined good society as the one which is based on the principle
of liberty, equality and fraternity. So, this becomes the very basis of his politics and
political philosophy or his idea of aide[al]-good society or a goodah country.
So, democracy in such ideal society constituted or based on the principle of liberty equality
and fraternity is both a means as well as an end to form such society. It is a means
as the way through which a good society can be built. So, democracy is a basis or is a
way forward to create such society to construct such society and it it also an end as all
society aspire for such ideal or sucha democracy to be the modes of their governance or theirtheir
governing. So, democracy in a such context is both a
means in the socialeconomic aspire and also an end toah achieve that democracy in the
political deliberativedeliberative aspire as well. So, one important feature of Ambedkar’s
vision of democracy is that it is the medium of social transformations and human progress
especially in a country like India. So, democracy then there is notmerely a kind ofmodes of
government or the form of government, but also a tool for social and economic transformation
or to ensure human progress or human empowerment. So, he regarded democracy as a form and a
method of government method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic
and social life of the people are brought without bloodshed or without violence agitations
or resorting to violent politics. So, Ambedkar believes in the liberal democracy or democratic
form of government is not just because it helps in in governing a country or a society
in a particular way, but it can also be thetool or means to social and economic transformationwhich
which is revolutionaryaccomplishment without resorting to the violent or theah bloodshed
or the violent politics of any kind or the revolutionary politics.
So, Ambedkar believes in the democracy and democratic modes of government is not just
to ensure a particular form of government or the political rule, but a means a method
to also achieve social and economic revolutionary transformation without resorting to violence
orbloodshed. So, this leads to the another feature of democracy in Ambedkar that is the
relation of political democracy with social and economic democracy that we have also discussed
in the beginning the quotation where the social democracy in Ambedkar’s conception is the
base on which political democracy can flourish. So, political democracy or the rule of the
people is the route to all progress. For him the soul of democracy consist in the fulfilment
of political principles of one man one vote and one vote one value. So, that is the basis
of democracy where everyone is treated equallyhave equal vote and their vote has equal value.
So, there is no differencesin terms of their economic status or social status or religious
status. So, politicalah democracy treats every citizen equallythey are entitled to same rights
or equal rights without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, language, sex
etcetera. But, political democracy is nothing if there
is no social and economic democracy, in other words social and economic democracy are the
tissues and fibres of political democracy. So, without such social and economic democracy
there is no strength, no effectiveness or no this very survival ofpolitical democracy
is endangered. So, the strength of political democracy thus depends on the strength of
social and economic democracy which is deeply interlinked.
So, democracy is intricately related to the vision of equality. So, so important this
conception of equality is is in Ambedkar’s conception of democracy that he considered
the lack of attention to the different aspects of equality as one of the major reasons for
failures of parliamentary democracy in Western country. So, basically the limitation of liberal
democracy in Western country is that Ambedkar saw or observed he believed was because of
their lack of attention to the different aspects of social equality which is necessary whichah
which isah required for apolitical democracy to be truly effective.
So,the idiom of equality not in the political or legalsense only, but also in the social
and economic aspire is equally necessary. So, in that kind of conception the democracy
then is not merely a form of government, but also encompasses all aspire of human life
including social and economy and that leads to a fraternity a sense of fellow feeling
which will strengthen the nation and leads to empowerment or also the progress of the
nation. So, he wrote: Parliamentary democracy developed
a passion for liberty. It never made a nodding acquaintance with equality. It failed to realise
the significance of equality and did not even endeavour to strike a balance between liberty
and equality, with the result that liberty swallowed equality and has made democracy
a name and a farce. So, in many westernparliamentary mode of liberal democracy Ambedkar identify
their limitation in a sense where the emphasize or perhaps over emphasize on this question
of liberty or individual freedom they do notunderstand or they do not recognise the equal significance
of equality or perhaps the proper balance between liberty on the one hand and equality
on the other hand to have a society which would be more compass compassionate society
which will leads to amorepowerful democracy in the political aspire and ultimately to
the strength and progress of a nation. So,this he realized even in the Western conception.
So, when he was articulating thedemocracy and democratic modes of governance in a post
colonial society or asociety like India divided on caste, religion, sex and creed andsex he
wasarguing for a kind of balance between equality liberty and fraternity. So, all the three
principles are necessary or intertwined in his conception of democracy inIndia.
So, for him or in his conception of democracy; democracy also link to the practice of a rationality
or rational thinking or scientific outlook. These are the basis of public debate and discussion
and leads to a participatory democratic discourse. So, his approach to the social challenges
or the economic challenges or differentissues related to the public and political life of
aa society needs to be discussed and deliberated upon through rationally or with his scientific
outlook not with some some kind of prejudice or a irrational approach orsuperstitious approach
tothese concerns, but it needs to be debatedrationally or with a scientific outlook to arrive at
a possible pragmatic solution to a such challenges. Another distinguished feature of his conception
of democracy is the ethical dimension and this ethical dimension leads to the question
of constitutional morality. So, that we will discuss after we discuss his views on practices
of democracy in India or practice of democracy in India and the challenges of a democratic
polity or democratic culture in India. So, the preface of public debate ordeliberation
on any issuethrough rational or scientific outlookrequire a form of ethical ahapproach
or a kind of morality which he calls orexpressed as the constitutional morality. So, in his
conception ofdemocracy there is a rational scientific as well as the ethical dimension
of understanding democracy not merely to solve aproblem or to achieve a desired objective
of course, the whole structure is to achievesuchsuch and such objectives, but more than that there
is a agreement to a process toa mode through which one iscommitted to arrive at solution
to achieve certain objectives. So, more than achieving the objects then the
concern for adopting the method to achieve that objective is equally important thathe
discusses as a constitutional morality which is not in it which need to be inculcated.
So, we will discuss it in this. So, in his conception then briefly to sum upthe political
democracy needs to be supplemented or or supplemented with social and economic democracy andthe
approachtoah political debate and discussion should be rational and scientific with ethical
dimension and onlywhen there is a kind of balance between liberty and equality on the
one hand and fraternity on the other only then in ideal society can beachieved and democracy
is a means and also an end to achieve that ideal society.
Now, totalk about practice of democracy in India for him democracy was not a new thing
in India it had experienced republics and it also experienced monarchies of limited
and electoral nature. He also give the example of Buddhist Sanghas he stated that these were
the representatives of modern forms of parliamentary or participatory form of governance. But,
unfortunately India had lost its democratic system or democratic spirit. One of the main
reason for this was according to Ambedkar the graded hierarchy of Indian society which
is caste system. So, caste with its graded inequality and moral
degeneration has killed the democratic spirit in India and how it degenerate the moral and
ethical or thedemocratic spirit of Indians and how their morality and ethics is also
bonded to their caste or to theirsect is something we have discussed in previous lecture which
weyou can refer to. So,in Ambedkar’sconception democracy and democratic modes of governing
the self and community is not something new to India it to it already existed certainly
the Buddhist Sangha or Ghana Sangha is the example of such republican form ofgovernment
or participatory nature ofgoverning. But, gradually India lost it because of thisah
graded inequality in the form of caste system which lead which kills public spirit which
obstruct acommon outlook because the moral and ethical concern of the individual isah
bonded or limited to their caste and and sects. So,with the liberal democratic constitution
democracy is again sought to establish in India. However, Ambedkar was worried about
losing democracy in India for the second time too because there is a kind of contradiction
in Indian life where in politics or in legal sense everyone is equal, but in social and
economic sense the inequality is widelyprevailing. So, how to maintaindemocracy or protect the
democratic constitutional spirit in India? So, Ambedkar offered three distinct ways through
which democracy can be safe guarded in India first he laid a stress upon holding constitutional
method of politics . He held at the constitution provides enough means to address people’s
concerns and aspirations he did not therefore, support the adoption of unconstitutional or
extra constitutional method such as violent protest or demonstrations.
He also referred to the use of non-cooperation, civil disobedience or satyagraha as extra
constitutional methods. And, he regarded them as the grammar of anarchy in one of his speech
in the constituent assembly while presenting the draft of the constitution he considered
these methods of politics as extra-constitutional uncalled for unrequired for when there is
a constitutional method available to resolve people’s concerns and to reconcile the differences.
So,heconsidered these modes ofah protest or politics as grammar of anarchy and stated
that sooner they are abandoned; the better it will be for the future of constitution
and democracy in India, so the emphasis. So, the democracy in India can survive only when
different groups or parties follow the constitutional method of politics and abstain or restrain
from following unconstitutional or extra constitutional modes of politics.
Secondly he cautioned against the hero worshipping this is the biggest challenge for any democracy
or for any democratic society where one man or a group of man are considered or empower
enough tojeopardise the wholestructure of democratic governance and alsoah that may
lead to a kind ofah authoritarianism orah kind ofundemocraticrule where the citizens
are treated merely as the subject or as thetool whereas, democracyor democratic ways ofgoverning
or resolving conflict is to empower the individual and empowerment of individual will lead to
the empowerment of society and empowerment of society will ultimately lead to the politics
strengthultimately strengthen the political democracyand in the progress ofnation.
So, this second challenge or the second caution that Ambedkar had was against the hero worshipping.
He considered it as a threat to the future as well as the survival of democracy in India
he stated in India, 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. Now, he is making a statement or profound
a statement about the working of democratic politicsin a society like India, whereah the
idea is that all menshares the same rights or has the same right, yet in the actual practice
of politics there is. So, much of hero worshipping or Bhakti to a particular leader to a particularah
party thatit can lead to or it can very well lead to a kind of authoritarianah authoritarianrule
or jeopardise the whole structure ofdemocratic form of governgovernance and it it certainly
obstruct the formation of a culture or a political culture which is essentially democratic. So,
the focus should be on the institution or a method or a process rather than the individual
or the group of individual or a party which is involved.
So, he is cautioning against this kind of hero worshipping in the politics which is
unequalled in magnitude in India, than it is anywhere in the world. So, in the politics
the hero worshipping and that we see even in our contemporary times so, loyalty to the
individual rather tend to the institution or to a process of governance is a challenge
for our democratic structure or democratic modes of governance, where the individual
or some individual or group of individual enjoy enormous power and which presents a
serious threat or challenge to the democracy and its institution and also put a threat
to the individual liberty that is enshrined in such constitution he was cautioning against
such form of hero worship which is so much pervasive in Indian politics.
He further writes that Bhakti in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But,
in politics Bhakti or hero worship is a sure road to degradation and eventual dictatorship.
So, this is the second caution he is giving for maintaining a democratic form of government
or a liberal democracy in India for doing that it is necessary to restrain from any
kind of hero worshipping. So, no matter how wise a person is one should not trust or be
loyal to that person, but to the process of democracy which we have collectively adopted
or agreed upon. So, that remains the very prophetic caution
that Ambedkar has given on the very foundation ofahor during the formation of constitution
itself, but we continue to see such kind of undemocratic orundemocratic culture in India,
where the loyalty to the person or a group or a party consideredor rewarded more than
loyalty to the constitution and it isits institution which isfor Ambedkar surer route to degradation
or may eventually lead to dictatorship or authoritarian form of government.
Thirdly, he warned Indians not to content only with political democracy, but to equally
strive for social democracy this is connected to his whole conception of democracy as such.
So, political democracy cannot survive without the presence of social democracy and he defined
social democracy in the followingwords whichfor him means a way of life which recognises liberty,
equality and fraternity as the principles of life. So, for him any ideal society or
idealdemocracy mustinclude these principle of equality liberty and fraternity without
the one other cannot survive. So, this philosophy of liberty, equality and fraternity in his
thought constitute a tripartite relationship and without the one other cannot agree.
So, there cannot be in Ambedkar’s conception a trade off between liberty and equality.
So, without liberty equality has no meaning and without equality liberty it it is in itself
is not sufficient or it cannot guaranty the success of a collective form of government
such as a democracy without such form of liberty is available or accessible to everyone. And
the twoliberty and equality has no meaning unless it leads to a culture of fraternity
wherethe compassion or the give respect orrecognition of dignity of everyone is also ensured.
So, in thisconception of social democracy or political democracy of Ambedkar the principle
of liberty equality and fraternity and all of themtogether constitute his ideals of social
and political democracy where there cannot be a trade off between liberty and equality
or liberty and equality and fraternity all must go together and there should be a kind
of balance between these three principles in his conception.
So, Ambedkar very succinctly expressed the inherent contradictions of democracy in India
in the following words and this he stated when he was presenting the drafting constitu[tion]-ah
draft constitution he said we are going to enter into a life of contradictions in politics
we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality in politics we
will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social
and economic life we shall by reason of our social and economic structure continue to
deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue this life of contradictions?
So, this is the greatest challenge for Indian democracy according to Ambedkar where in the
political lifethere isacknowledgement or recognition ofequality that is to say one man one vote,
one vote one value, but in social and economic life because of our inherent social and economic
structure we will continue to deny suchprinciple of one man one value. Ambedkaris cautioning
the constitution maker or the policy maker that how long Indian democracy can survive
if you continue to live in this in this life of contradictions.
So, sooner this contradiction is removed the better it will be. Now, this is a matter of
debate how far we have been successful in ensuring or strengthening social democracy
in India. So, politicallyorin terms of elections or in terms of representation we may say we
have achieved a level of democracy there is some maturity, but then there are many challenges
to a such democracy and this fundamental contradictions of a political democracy on the one hand and
absence of social and econom[ic]- economic democracy on the other is something which
we have to stillah wonder upon or think about. So, for Ambedkar in order to preserve or maintain
and also strengthen democracy in India one need to guard it against three things basically
– first, the extra constitutional means of politics such as non-cooperation satyagraha
or violentmodes of politics. So, the constitution or the politics must be guarded against extra
constitutional methods of politics or means of politics. Second – hero worship or devotion
to a particular leader, the third – political democracy combined with social and economic
democracy based on the principle of liberty, equality and fraternity.
So, to do sum up so for the maintenance or preservation of or safeguarding Indian democracy
one need to guard it against these three challenges or three threats to democracy in India.
Now, to discuss his views on constitutional morality he offered an eloquent observation
on the principle of constitutional morality in constituent assembly this was something
very rarely discussed and the account of Ambedkar, remain very crucial on the subject. So, how
a society which is graded in any quality or hierarchical society divided on caste, religious
or sectarian lines will continue to follow a process which is which is enshrined in the
constitution or how to makethe functioning of democracy or democratic institution effective
in a society which believes in different unconstitutional or even illegal practices such as untouchability
and so on. So, in such society, how a how trust or a
belief in the constitutional method or parliamentarymethod can be made effective? So, there comes the
ethical or the moral dimension of ensuring the success or effectiveness of ademocracy
which he explains through this concept of constitutional morality which is not widely
discussedahah by then. So, his accountin this context remains very crucial. So, in his speech
on the draft constitution on fourth November, 1948, Ambedkar first introduced the constitution
to the assembly and then went on to invoke and discuss in details this concept of constitutional
morality. Now, while emphasizing the value of constitutional
morality he quoted George Grote and stated that, the diffusion of constitutional morality
not merely among the majority of any community, but throughout the whole is the indispensable
condition of a government at once free and peaceable; since even any powerful and obstinate
minority may render the working of a free institution impracticable, without being strong
enough to conquer ascendance for themselves. So, this principle of constitutional morality
is not something we should beimbibed by the majority community. But, even those in the
minority or those who cannot on their own is sent to the power or require power can
also render thisconstitution or constitutionalmechanism impracticable or ineffective iftheprinciple
or the process which is enshrined in the constitution is followed by them all as well. So, the diffusion
or this culture of trust or belief in the constitutional process ofattaining certain
objectives or resolvingsome differences is something which should be inculcated not just
by the majority community, but also by those who are in the minorities and that is assuredly
necessary foraimeffective or for the a strengthen a strengthening of democracy and democratic
rule in any society or the constitutionalmechanism. So,ah this imbibing of constitutional morality
by every section, both majority and minority, something absolutely indispensable for the
working of constitution or for making it effective form of governance.
In defining constitutional morality Ambedkar referred to Grote’s definition again where
Grote’s write a paramount reverence for the forms of constitution in forcing obedience
to authority acting under and within these forms yet combined with the habit of open
speech, of action subject only to definite legal control, and unrestrained censure of
those very authorities as to all their public acts, combine too with a perfect confidence
in the bosom of every citizen amidst the bitterness of party contest and that the form of constitution
will not be less sacred in the eyes of his opponents than his own.
So, this is basically about the faith or trust in a form or in a process which ensures free
a speech or which ensuresah that that they may differ in their opinion or in their approach
to certain subject or that can be subjected to some forms of legal control, but despite
of their differences or bitterness oropponents to each othe[r]- opposition to each other
the both party mustmust consider or recognise the sacredness of the constitution or constitutional
mechanism as it is there in the opponents. So, this belief in the form orin the process
of resolving conflict or attending objective which is the constitutional mechanism is something
which is absolutely necessary for the constitutional morality to immerse. So, theemphasis here
is again both by those who enjoy authority or those who are in the opponents to the sacredness
of the institution or the process. So, here again one can connect it to the question of
hero worshipping or individual. So, in the democratic functioning or the role
of constitution and constitutional mechanism is to ensure this sanctity or thissacredness
of the mechanism or the processin the eyes of both those who are in the power, those
who are in the authority or those who are questioning that authority or opposing that
authority for both of them the sacredness or the sanctity of the constitutional process
should be equallyahah respected orah recognised. So, to look at Ambedkar’s views on constitutional
morality which can be interpreted in multiple ways, there are two popular uses of the term.
Firstly, it means being governed by the substantive morality of the constitution; that is, to
abide by the constitutional mechanism of conducting politics or resolving the difference or acquiring
the power to attend certainah objectives or agenda of differentgroups and there are the
constitutional mechanism available for attainment of such objectives and agenda. So, the first
uses of this term constitutional morality in tells abiding by the constitutional mechanism
or substantive morality that is enshrined in the constitution.
The second refers to being governed by the convention and protocols then this is the
question of proprietorship or a kind of discretion which follow the convention and protocols
in grey areas of decision making process. So, where constitution is silent or ambiguous
in such moments oron such occasions there has to be a guideah by following certain convention
and protocol which strengthen or which empower the constitutional morality where it is not
explicitly there. Ambedkar was more concerned about this second
uses of the term. So, in similar line with the Grote, Ambedkar also held at constitutional
morality is not commonly observed. So, it is not automatic, it is not naturally available
in any society or any community, it has to be constantly or continuously nurtured. So,
it is not natural, but something that needs to be cultivated. People of India are yet
to learn and develop constitutional morality. So, especially where democracy in India is
only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocraticdivided on so many
cast lines or religiouslines. So, this culture of constitutional morality something which
needs to be cultivated, it is not naturally available, it is notah automatically available
to any society oror community. But, however for the effective functioning
of the constitution, the constitutional morality absolutely necessary for a society. So, for
Grote constitutional morality primarily referred to freedom and self restraint. Freedom is
to express or articulate ones position or approach to politics in a particular way and
they may differ from the other groups or other organisation, but also the self restraint
that is to abide by a commonly agreed process or the mechanism which is there in the constitution.
So, freedom is guaranteed by the practice of self restraint. So, it is not mutually
exclusive. So, therefore, the presence of constitutional morality in the sense totally
wipes out the presence of revolutionary politics or revolutionary methods of politics.
Ambedkar follows Grote when he rules out the practices or politics of unconstitutional
methods. So, Ambedkar criticizes the use of a vast range of political actions including
satyagraha or non-cooperation or many modes of Gandhian politics in the independent India.
However, those methods were very popular during the anticolonialist struggle or the freedoms
struggle these are criticized for being incompatible with the observance of the constitutional
morality. So, for Ambedkar such modes of extra constitutional politics is a grammar of anarchy
and itweakens the constitution and constitutional morality in the country and therefore, he
wanted or he coarsened the poli[tical]-political leaders and parties toabdicate or refrain
from using suchextra constitutional modes of politics.
This indicates is emphasis on self-restraint as a component of constitutional morality.
So, constitutional morality is not just about the freedom or the autonomy toconduct one
politics or to develop certain articulation of political or social issues, but also to
abide by restrain by the mechanism or the process which isalreadyavailable or enshrined
in the constitution. Another important element of constitutional
morality is the recognition of plurality and management and adjudication of differences
remains crucial in this understanding of constitutional morality, where there is no one point of view
homogeneity award or homogeneous approach to politics to society or to certain policy
issue. Those differences are recognised acknowledged and respected. However, how to resol[ve]-resolve
such differences or reconcile such differences is something which can be done or arbitrated
through the constitutional morality. So, the non-violent resolution of problems
of differences demand the existence of a congruent constitutional process which can and should
arbitrate. These differences these processes maybe entailed in the practices of parliament
and courts and therefore, constitutional morality demands the obedience of these institutions
or a mechanism or a process through which differences or the conflict orcontradictions
in society orin opinions can be arbitrated or reconciled.
So,ah the freedom theautonomy to articulateones opinion and differ from each other is perfectly
ok, if or accepted acknowledge if they abide by a particular mechanism or process which
should be abiding for everyone or or a different parties or groups having difference of opinion.
So, what itactually says that people may not be content with the substance or outcomes
of these processes what constitutional morality demands is that their allegiance to the form
or the processes of adjudication and not necessary to the outcomes.
The constitutional morality focuses or therefore, on the mechanism or the forms or the processes
ofachieving certain objectives or atattainment of certain objectives or formulating or implementing
certain policies. So, people are entitled to not to be content with the outcomes of
a policy, but they must abide by the constitutional process and that is the demand of the constitutional
moralities, not about what is the outcome or what is them a result of this process on
which people or groups may differ, but they mustabide or so, allegiance to the forms and
the process of adjudication. So, constitutional morality is skeptical of any personification
of authority therefore, the process the forms matters more than the individual or the personality.
So, this is related to the claim of popular sovereignty it does not matter how popular
ones authority is constitutional morality forever questions it is claim to singularly
representing the will of the people. Thus the question of representation is one critical
element that constitutional morality deal with. So, no group, no individual can claim
in itself that it singularly represent the popular will or the will of the people that
may can be contested within theah restrains of the constitutional mechanism or constitutionalmorality.
So, constitutional morality deals with the question of popular sovereignty as well wherethere
may be some groups orindividual claiming that they and they alone represent the will of
the people, but within the primstructure or the premise of constitutional morality there
are thea space for contestation of such claims. But, those who are claiming or those who are
contesting both must abide themselves within the mechanism which is the constitutional
mechanism and that is the demand of constitutional morality.
Ah, So, constitutional morality is more realised by the observance of the processes of doing
certain things; and not really by the things themselves or the objectives of doing those.
So, the emphasis is on the form or the processes of working and not the outcome or the consequences
of such working on which people or group may differ.
So, constitutional morality allows the growth of a constitutional culture which is abstract
and based on cooperations and which needs to be inculcated or a strengthen. This is
the process which helps individuals to surpass their immediate identity and adhere to a shared
process of adjudications despite all the differences they all become part of a common culture to
form a common culture or a unifiedahculture or sense of self there is a need to surpass
or transcend ones immediate identity be it caste religion and so on and so forth.
So, he recognise cost in this context put an inherent threat to constitutional morality
because it prevents surpassing or transcending these immediate identities of birth or descriptive
identity of caste. So, working as a tool of divide, caste does not allow the formation
of a common deliberative culture that is based on equality. It is therefore, biggest impediments
or what you calls antinational in India in the formation and development of constitutional
morality. So, caste or caste system is the greatest impediments because it reduce the
individual work through his or her caste status and does not really help in creating a equal
society or egalitarian society. So,that is the biggest challengeforthe emergence
of constitutional morality in a country likeIndia. So,ah to conclude hisah thought or to his
arguments on liberal democracy or constitutional morality and also what we have discussed his
views on caste we can take it from the Eleanor Zelliot assessment of Ambedkar as the performer
of three roles – one as the cast leader where is representing the concern of Mahar spokesperson
of the untouchables and also as a national a statemans. So, you may find in contemporary
discourse on Ambedkarthat all the parties and this I will come toah discuss in a minute,
but there is a kind of segregation of Ambedkar nearly as a caste leaders or the spokesperson
of the untouchables and very less and less on theAmbedkar as a national leader or asdemocraticah
thinker or a kind ofah um all India or a nationalistahah person.
So, many parties and groups may question Ambedkar and his politics during his time, but in contemporary
time certainly the re-emergence of Ambedkar gives us a different picture ofAmbedkar which
I will discuss. So, we can find in him three kind of roles – as a caste leaders as a spokesperson
of untouchables and also as a national leader. So, as the cast leader Ambedkar was a guide
and decision maker of the Mahar communities in his second role he was the spokesperson
of the untouchables and negotiated with all the organisations and government for the protection
or for safeguarding their interest. As a national leader or states man he played a critical
role in making a drafting of the constitution and therefore, Ambedkar is also regarded as
the modern one or the law giver of modern India.
So, he is alsoregarded in that role as a national a statesman or a national leader and not nearly
as a caste leader or spokesperson of the untouchables. So, in playing all the three rules Ambedkar
has also found himself not satisfied with the manydevelopments that was taking place
or unfolding in post independent India and he was very unhappy with the Hindu religion
or he therefore converted to Buddhism andfor a very long time since 1930s as we have discussed,
he distanced himselffromah gradually develop a sense ofah loss of all hope in the reforming
or reformation of Hindu society. And, especially after thedebacle of Hindu code bill heahresigned
from the law minister ship and also gradually turn to Buddhismor Buddha.
So,he wasoften bound by the circumstance limitations and this limited the realisation of many of
his objectives such as Hindu code bill or creating a society or a culture which would
bebased on the principle ofliberty, equality and paternity. So, heexperience and heahwasin
many ways unsatisfied with thedevelopments in the post dependent politics in India especially
after theah Hinducode bill controversy. So,however, he played a very significant role in not just
drafting the constitution, but also showing a way forward to construct the unified or
common culture for future India. So, to maintain such common or united India
he wrote that, I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way
affected by any competitive loyalty whether that loyalty rises out of our religion, out
of our culture, out of our language. I want all people to be Indians first Indian last
and nothing else, but Indians. So, that is the emphasis or significance of fraternity
in his political philosophy, where he want ah. So, in Indian identity or Indian moron
self wood you may have come across that there is thisah kind of duality in terms of one
being a Bengali thenan Indian or a Bihari then an Indian or a Marathi then in Indian
orsimilarly on the basis of language or religion or maybe the caste.
But, in Ambedkar conception of modern Indian one needs to consider oneself first and last
as an Indian andthere is no slightest duality in terms ofloyalty towardsIndia. So, that
kind of fellow feeling or creation of a society whichtreats everyone equally withoutah any
division of loyalty towards differentcast culture language and religion is something
whichAmbedkar believe will lead to a kind of ideal society or a ideal culture where
a democracy willpenetrate or transform not just the political is fair, but also the social
and economic is fair in the country and that will lead to the progress of the nation as
well. In the words of one of the a political scientist
Christophe Jaffrelothe writes what American that certainly he obtained major concessions
from the British by collaborating with them including a new policy of positive discriminations
in favour of the untouchables and his politics made an impact during the constitutional debates
when he gained more concessions for the Dalits and succeeded in marginalizing some Gandhian
propositions. But he did not get the separate electorate he wanted for the scheduled caste
he failed to have concrete social reforms adopted such as the Hindu code bill, and he
was not able to establish a party representing the interest of untouchables of the untouchables
of India as a whole. So, there are many achievementsin Ambedkar
or through Ambedkar politics, but there are certain limitations alsoah in in hispolitics
which we have discussed in our previous lecture as wellandso, this is a kind of comprehensive
or kind of overall assessment of Ambedkar not just as I thinker, but also as a political
activist and his achievements and limitations in Christophe Jaffrelot.
However, despite its limitation in fulfilling many ofhis ideals in practice, Ambedkar established
a legacy and that legacy is more important than what he has achieved and certainly in
the revival of contemporary interest in Ambedkar and his thought signifies such legacy of Ambedkar.
Never before the equalities was that was practiced for generation it was never before so radically
condemned or criticized. He in fact made untouchability or caste exploitation a national priority
and it hasah globalahrepercussions also. So, he used different platforms or organisations
or mechanism to makethis issue of untouchability or the caste exploitation in national priority
a majorpolitical issue in the political development in India.
So, in criticizing these inequalities he simultaneously presented an alternative vision of social
organisation which is democratic and based on the principle of liberty equality and fraternity.
This made Ambedkar one of the most inspiring and visionary thinkers of modern India and
that is perhaps is greatest contribution. So,Ambedkarin his lifetime was critical of
not just congress and the Gandhian politics, but he was equally critical of socialist and
the communist modes of politics. He was also critical oftheright wing Hindutva politicsah
certainly as Hindu Mahasabha or their conception of Hindu Rashtra he was very critical of such
revivalist revivalist politics ah. But nonethelesshis foresightedness or his
visionwas so relevantthatah when he is attacking many of the evil practices or the inequalities
and that is remarkable. So, prior to that as I was saying that there ismany reforms
movement social reforms movement in modern India and also in pre modern India such as
Buddhism orduring the Bhakti and Sufi movement . But,for them the struggle or fight was for
religious equality or treating everyone equally in the eyes ofgod orfighting for the religious
equality. But, for the first time Ambedkarah was inspiring
for fighting for equality in the social economic and the political is were also and there he
had alternative vision for egalitarian society or a culture which would be more democratic
orah founded on the constitutional principle ofliberty equality and fraternity and notdivided
on the basis of caste or any kind of descriptive identity and therefore, in modern times you
findthe critique of Ambedkar’s and to whom Ambedkar’s criticizeah verystrongly orcompeting
with each other to adopt delegacy and thought of Ambedkar in today.
And, in many ways the millions of the let us whoconsidered him as an icon or as aahliberatedis
alsohelpful inah restablishing Ambedkar as one of the most a influential thinker of modern
a India in contemporary politics perhaps Ambedkar and his ideas or relevent moreah then he was
during his time or after few decades a few decades after theindependence. So, there is
a kind of gradual emergence of Ambedkar as an all India thinker and not merely as a caste
leader or as a spokesperson of untouchables and that is something which we need to engage
more and more with Ambedkar and his thought. So,on his thoughtthis lecture you canah refer
to some of the texts like Sources of Indian Traditions, and Ambedkar and the Future of
Indian Democracy by Jean Dreze, and also Political Thought in Modern India by Pantham and Deutsch,
Ramchandra Guha also some exerts from Ambedkar and his speech will be very helpful to understand
his vision of democracy and also constitutional morality which you should and must refer to.
So, Political Philosophy of doctor B. R. Ambedkar by A. M. Rajasekhariah and Hemalatha Jayaraj
is also something you can look at and certainly this text by Pratap Bhanu Mehta will help
you to understandah his conception or alsoAmbedkar’s conception of constitutional morality and
also theahconcept of constitutional morality in general.
So, these books you canrefer to his views or to understand his views on democracy and
constitutional morality. So, thanks I hope you enjoyed the lecture.
Thanks for your patience .

One thought on “B.R.Ambedkar:Liberal Democracy and Constitutional Morality

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *