25 Social Justice Discourse : BR Ambedkar

Dr.Vandana Arora

epgp books

“The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism.”

  • Learning Objectives
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Evolution of social justice
  • Cicero Plato
  • Aristotle

1Karl Marx quotes (German political Philosopher and revolutionary, 1818-1883)http://thinkexist.com/quotations/socialism/

  • Miller
  • P.B. Gajendragadkar jatava



Different theories relating to Social Justice

  • Utilitarianism
  • Self-Perfectionism Marxism
  • Existentialism
  • Rawls’ Theory


Social Justice with special reference to Dr. BR Ambedkar

  • Hindu social order and the malady of Caste structure
  • Ambedkar’s Criticism of Manu Smiriti: The root cause for the pathetic status of the marginalised class


Ambedkar’s inclination towards Buddhism Perception of Social Justice by Dr B R Ambedkar

  • Five Basic Principles
  • Equality, Liberty and Fraternity

Individual as a unit in Ambedkarite concept of Social Justice Ambedkar’s notion of Social Justice and Democracy


  • Political Equality
  • Fraternity

Ambedkarite Social Justice relating to Dalits and Women: Ambedkar as Social Reformer

  • Dalit
  • Women
  • Hindu Code Bill


Upliftment through Constitutional Means

Reflection ofAmbedkarite Social  Justice in the Constitution of India

Difference between Ambedkar and Gandhian concept of Social Justice

Significance of Ambedkarite Social Justice in present scenario

Vision of Ambedkarite Social Justice and its realization: An Appraisal







Dr. B.R. Ambedkar popularly known as Dr. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, was a messiah of Dalit, an intellectual, a revolutionary, a philosopher, a patriot, a scholar, a writer, and the Architect of the Constitution of India. He struggled against the untouchability and the caste system being well conversant with the bitter reality of being born as untouchable initially but thereafter included other marginalized class in his mission. He devised that the emancipation of Dalit and the marginalized section of society in India was possible only through the three-pronged approached of education, agitation and organization. His vision for social justice was closely related to good society, rationality and the scientific outlook. For him social justice stands for the liberty, equality and fraternity of all human beings. He stood for a social system which is based on right relations between man and man in all spheres of life. Thus Ambedkarite socialism is the great relevance to Indian society to achieve social justice, removal of untouchability, in establishing equality and democracy in reality.


Key words :

Socialism, Democracy, Justice, Social order, Caste structure.


Objective of the study:

To understand the main strands of the Political thought of Dr. B R Ambedkar




Since dawn of civilization every social order is striving hard to attain the status of a welfare state and trying to ensure happiness to each of its member. The ultimate goal of every welfare state is to establish and maintain justice within its boundaries. Justice is a very comprehensive and dynamic concept having a vast canvass which cannot be confined within specific limitations. There are multifarious and diverse facets of the term “justice”. As per the form a unique name has been given to each facet of justice. Peace cannot be imagined in absence of justice and further without justice there cannot be law and stability in the society. Social Justice covers different significant components of justice in it. Social justice is the edifice for welfare state.

  • Evolution of Social JusticeCicero:-

    In the Roman-Greek tradition, it was Cicero, who elaborated the concept of social justice, when he declared, “we are born for justice, and that right is based, not upon man’s opinion, but upon nature. This fact will immediately be plain if you once get a clear conception of man’s fellowship and union with his fellow – men, for no single thing is so like another, so exactly, its counterpart, as all of us are to one another” (Sabine, 1973).




    Social justice’, according to Plato, is defined as “the principle of a society, consisting of different types of men … who have combined under the impulse of their need of one another, and by their combination in one society, and their concentration on their separate functions, have made a whole which is perfect because it is the product and the image of the whole of the human mind” (Sabine, 1973) There is some similarity between Varna Vyavastha and Plato’s view on justice as both assigns duties and work to its citizen on the basis of class.


    In Plato’s view, social justice apparently stands for the performance of the class-based duties according to the nature of men. So far the position of womenfolk is concerned, Plato placed them under the system of “communism of wives” in order that they could give society the best of progeny and no one would indulge in disputes relating to the possession of his children, whether mine or of others. The bringing up of all children, their education and training, all such tasks were entrusted to the state (Jatava, 1998). Plato interlinked individual and social justice together. The individual form of justice manifests itself, when man succeeds in establishing harmony and unity among all the three qualities of wisdom, courage and appetite as inherent in his conscience. In case, the balance is upset or disturbed, the individual rushes towards lust and injustice. In a similar way, the well ordered balance of three classes of citizens in society is the basic idea of social justice.2



  • Aristotle:-“

    Injustice arises when equals are treated unequally, and also when unequal’s are treated equally.” Unlike Plato, for Aristotle, justice is inherent in morality, scientific insight and constitutional rule. He puts it into ‘general justice’, and ‘particular justice’. For Aristotle, the best state is that which is founded on proportionate justice based on the merits of the individual, and not on birth, wealth, liberty and equality. A complete equality among the citizens is not possible in any respect of human life (Jatava, 1998). Aristotle emphasised that the state of injustice arises, when equality is not maintained when it is desirable. He further subdivided particular justice into ‘distributive justice’ and ‘connective justice’. Distributive justice is distribution of advantages by the state to individuals on the basis of rational equality.


    “In view of the general conception of justice, it may rightly be explained that to Aristotle, the spirit of social justice lies in a just arrangement of society which would mean a model in which each one does efficiently the work for which one is fitted by nature of one’s capacities and abilities and receives accordingly what is necessary to enable him to continue his work. Though the state regulations can only be accepted as general, not as applying to every individual instance, yet the laws of a state as Aristotle argued, can only provide for what is best in general. The most important element added to the concept of social justice by Aristotle was the ‘rule of law’ which has received a special attention in modern societies” (Jatava, 1998).


    According to Miller, social justice “is realistic attempt to bring the overall pattern of distribution in a society into line with principles of society” (Miller, 1987). There have been two major conceptions of social justice, one embodying the notions of ‘merit’ and ‘desert’ and the other, those of ‘need equality’.


    According to the first conception dividends must be paid according to the merits of a person.

    The second aspect says that goods be distributed according to the requirement of each individual.

    The main purpose is to bring equality in real parlance .i.e. substantial equality.



    In modern times the term social justice was first used in 1840 by a Sicilian priest, Luigi Taparelli d’ Azeglio. However, Antonio Rasmini Serbasti gave the term prominence in his work, La constitutione Civile Secodo La Giurtizia Sociale in the year 1848 (Noval 2000: 11 quoted in Yadav:2006).3


    According to P.B. Gajendragadkar, former Chief Justice of India, “The concept of social justice is (thus) a revolutionary concept which gives meaning and significance to the democratic way of life and makes the rule of law dynamic. It is this concept of social justice which creates in the minds of the masses of this country a sense of participation in the glory of India’s political freedom” (Gajendragadkar, 1965).He further adds, “Social justice must be achieved by adopting necessary and reasonable measures with courage, wisdom, foresight, sense of balance and fair play to all the interests concerned. If eternal vigilance is the price for national liberty, it is equally the price for sustaining individual freedom and liberty in welfare state”.


    Jatava defines social justice as “that sort of justice which prescribes certain ideals closely related to human society; it sustains the existence and continuity of the individual, family, society and the nation; Its implementation safeguards the interests of the weaker sections of society; and this removes all the serious unjust imbalances formed between man and man so that the lives of all citizens become improved and emancipated. As a result, every man, according to his own potentiality and merit may participate in the power and wealth of the nation and thus may avail of the opportunities for acquiring social status of his own liking and outlook” (Jatava, 1998). He further writes, “Social justice is so wide concept that it includes all other kinds of justice in its sphere. It gives a vivid depiction of the whole of human society. It is like a looking-glass wherein one can find the picture of a country or of a society. Its subject matter is a sort of study, which is related more to practice than theory. That is why social justice is different from the well established social sciences and other studies of human life.”


    Ambedkarite social justice stands for the liberty, equality and fraternity of all human beings. He stood for a social system which is based on right relations between man and man in all spheres of life.4 Justice”, for Ambedkar “is simply another name for liberty, equality and fraternity”.



  • Different theories relating to Social Justice3http://www.asthabharati.org/Dia_Oct%2007/viv.htm4Rajkumar,(ed), History and Cultural series Essays on Dalits (New Delhi, Discover Publications, 2003), p 22
  • Utilitarianism

    It relies on the spirit of “The maximum good of the greatest number of individuals.” Thus, according to these thinkers, whatever is useless, painful, evil and unjust, must be reformed or changed in the interest of the greatest number of individuals (Jatava, 1998). The maladies prevailing in the society must be eradicated keeping in view the larger benefit of the society. Otherwise the apartheid in any quarter or corner of the society can lead to instability and political disorder.




    F.H. Bradley (1846-1924) is the famous philosopher of the theory of “self-protectionism.” According to this theory “my station and its duties” is the fundamental for the achievement of justice.


    Each individual must do all his duties, honestly, and efficiently as per one’s potential at each front in society. However, in Bradley’s social scheme, every person has right to choose his own place of duties. Hence, he can pursue any course of his liking, but once he selects his place, he must do his work devotedly so that the possibilities of social progress and the areas of justice are expanded in the interest of all.5




    The Marxist’s view of social justice believes that the idea of justice has developed through the ages. There has been continuous struggle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ throughout the ages in the pretext of social justice, as in every stages of human society, the have nots were exploited by the have class, but could not attain such justice as the problem of exploitation is rooted in the economic structure itself. The proletariat revolution followed by the overthrow of capitalism and establishment of socialism or communism, thereby abolishing private property, abolishing classes and all forms of inequalities, only would help attain social justice. In various works, Marx and Engels have outlined the theory of exploitation and its remedies, i.e., communism (Marx and Engels 1952; 1844 etc.) In later stages, Lenin, Stalin and Mao have contributed significantly in their respective works about theory of communism.6





Freedom is always a precious longing for the human beings and would always remain priority till the specie exists on earth. It cannot be curtailed or put to peril by any dint of barricade. “ Freedom is entailed by responsibility” is the genesis of the existential idea of justice. Man is responsible for all his ideals, which he chooses as a free being, whether these ideals are related to justice, morality, democracy or economic welfare. Man’s just ideals or unjust systems inspire him accordingly for pursuing his own course of action. In brief, Sartre said: “I am responsible for myself and also for others. In the spirit of my choice, I am creating a certain image (concept) of man…” (Sartre, 1947).


Rawls’ Theory


According to Rawls, the most distinctive elements of which the principle, that inequalities in the allocation of goods are permissible if and only if they work to the benefit of the least well-off members of society. (Rawls, 1972).


Social Justice with special reference to Dr. BR Ambedkar


Hindu social order and the malady of Caste structure


Dr.Ambedkar was a critique of Brahminic Social Order. The Hindu Social Order recognized only four Classes i.e. Brahman, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. According to the Manu Smriti the position of Brahmins is supreme among all in the Hindu Social Order. In his essay ‘the Hindu Social Order: Its Essential Principles’, Dr.Ambedkar claimed that in the Hindu social Order, there is no room for individual merit and no consideration of individual justice. Manu, the Hindu law creator has deprived the common men (Shudras). He pointed out that, the Manu Smriti supports slavery in the form of social inequality. Here cast is endogamous. Once born in one caste will die in that particular caste. Throughout the ages, the helpless Dalits (touchable and Untouchable Shudras) have been prey of the tyrant upper caste. Ambedkar himself was one of the victim of social exploitation and injustice of Hindu society. He himself had suffered humiliation and had felt the pain of exploitation at the hands of upper caste. He, therefore, organized Social Revolution

  • throughout the Nation for the establishment of justice, liberty, equality, fraternity and human dignity on the basis of the thoughts and works of Gautam Buddha, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Mahatma Joytibaro Phule, Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Tukaram, Rabi Das and Chokhamela, who devoted their entire their life for Social Equality.Ambedkar’s Criticism Of Manu Smiriti: The root cause for the pathetic status of the marginalised class

    Hindu social order is a setup which perpetuates inequality, injustice and hatred. According to Dr.Ambedkar the root cause of social injustice to the Schedules Castes and Schedules Tribes is the Caste system in Hindu Society. The root of the Caste system is religion, the root of the religion attached to varnashram and the root of the varnashram is the Brahminism, the roof of Brahminism lies with the political power.7Castiesm is rampant because there is no independent public opinion to condemn and to address it and there is no impartial machinery of administration to curb it, there is no check from the police or the judiciary for the simple reasons that they are all are subordinate to the Hindus, and the exploiters are supported by them. At the economic front, we have a society in which there are few having immense wealth as compared to those are leading a miserable life. He was against Manusmirthi as it gives a warrant to the Brahamins to commit all types of violence on Schedules Castes and Scheduled Tribes and justify their evil designs.


    The condition of woman is also miserable. It has been mentioned in Hindu Shastras that women is the bond slave of her father when she is young, to her husband when is middle aged to her son when she is mother.8 The women in India have remained a matter of joy and a source of amusement and she was used and misused by men. In India, Hindu women are treated as bonded labour till their death. Dr.Ambedkar says education was denied to them under Manu set up of social order which has caused both an insult and an injury to the women in India.


    Ambedkar’s inclination towards Buddhism


    BR Ambedkar was the supporter of Buddhism. Dr.Ambedkar was convinced that there is no salvation within Hinduism for untouchables. He rightly attributed to a social system backed by Hinduism was responsible for the low-status, degradation and low-esteem of untouchables. Of all religions in the world it was Hinduism that recognizes caste distinctions and untouchability. He came up with a solution that conversion to Buddhism as a last resort to emancipate Untouchables


    7Mohamed Shabbir “ Ambedkar on Law, Constitution and social justice” Rawat Pub, Jaipur, 2005, P.309

    8D.C.Ahir “The Legacy of Ambedkar” B.R. Pub.Delhi, 1990, P.129.


  • from the clutches of casteism prevailing in Hindu Social Order. Dr.Ambedkar argued that Buddha was first Social Reformer who had denied the sacredness and purity of the Vedas.

    Therefore, Babasaheb Ambedkar urged to the oppressed as well as to all the Indians to jump the barricade of biasness created by Hindu social Order by seeing the truth in the Buddhist way of life and ensuring a new society based on harmony and happiness. In his book The Buddha and his Dhamma, Ambedkar very authoritatively claimed that Buddhism can be the panacea for the problem of social and natural suffering of the oppressed class. Dr.Ambedkar has pointed out that Buddha’s Dhamma was fundamentally different from that of Religion. Dhamma is righteousness, which means right relation between man and man in all spheres of life. In his work “Buddha or Karl Marx”, he regarded the Marxian Philosophy as far behind Buddha. It can said that the atrocities and exploitation of the upper-castes on the Shudras, Ati-Shudras and Adivasis (Dalitbahujans) compelled them to choose the path of conversion. Further according to Ambedkar, man could not live by bread alone; he had mind which needed food for thought; and religion instilled hope in man and always drove him to activity. He emphasized that mankind needed a religion of humanity, and that he discovered these principles in Buddha’s Dhamma. He, therefore, preferred the path of conversion to Buddhism because of its egalitarian philosophy.


  • Perception of Social Justice by Dr B R Ambedkar

    Ambedkar agreed with Bergbon’s idea of justice which states, “Justice has always evoked ideas of equality, of proportion of ‘compensation’. Equity signifies equality rules and regulations, right and righteousness are concerned with equality in value. If all men are equal, all men are of the same essence and the common essence entitles them to the same fundamental rights and to equal liberty” (quoted in Ambedkar, 1987). Ambedkar had also a very liberal concept of justice in the sense of its being grounded in human values. Ambedkarite social justice stands for the liberty, equality and fraternity of all human beings. It is a fact that Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar did not propound any specific definition or theory of “Social Justice” per se. His thoughts are eloquently portrayed in his writings and speeches published posthumously. On the basis of these we can easily argue that Ambedkar has mentioned multiple principles for the establishment of an open and just social order in general and Indian society in particular. Therefore with the help of these elements we can carve out a theory of social justice, what can then be then referred as Ambedkar’s theory of Social Justice.


He stood for a social system which is based on right relations between man and man in all spheres of life.9 The unity and equality of all human beings, the equal worth of men and women, the respect for the weak and the lowly, the regard for human rights, benevolence, mutual love, sympathy, tolerance, and charity towards fellow being, human treatment in all cases, the dignity of all citizens, the abolition of caste-distinctions, education and property for all, goodwill and gentleness (Jatava, 1998).


Ambedkar’s concept of justice seeks to remove glaring inequalities in society based in a hierarchical Caste system with its graded disabilities from birth on a large section of Hindu society and the conferment of privileges and position of dominance of Brahimins, a small section of the society.10We can extract Five Basic Principles, from writings and speeches of Ambedkar, through which justice can be dispensed in the society.


  • Establishment of society based on equality, liberty and fraternity
  • Establishing a society where individual becomes the means of all social purposes
  • Establishing democracy- political, economic and social.
  • Establishing democracy through constitutional measures and
  • Establishing democracy by breaking monopoly of upper strata on political power11


Dean, School of Ambedkar Studies, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Prof. Kameshwar Choudhary said that Ambedkar favoured neither liberal nor Marxist perspectives on social justice. Instead, he favoured radico-liberal perspective based on useful means for social transformation. “Ambedkar’s idea of social justice was based on our indigenous historical, social and cultural roots,”12


Equality, Liberty and Fraternity


Principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity have been acknowledged to be the basic fundamentals of Social Justice and can not to be treated as separate items in a trinity Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be


9Rajkumar,(ed), History and Cultural series Essays on Dalits (New Delhi, Discover Publications, 2003), p 22

10Venugopal P. “Social Justice and reservation” Emerald Pub.Chennai, 1998, P.11.




  1. divorced from fraternity, form a unity of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy (Ambedkar, 1994). Few object to liberty in the sense of a right to free movement, in the and a right to property, tools and materials as being necessary for earning a living to keep the body in due state of health. However, the problem is that people who support liberty in the sense of right to life, limb and property would not readily consent to liberty if it involves the liberty to choose one’s profession. Ambedkar argues that to object to the liberty to choose a profession is to perpetuate slavery. For slavery does not only merely mean a legalized form of subjection. It means a state of society in which some men are forced to accept other occupations which control their conduct. This condition is found even where there is no slavery in the legal sense. For instance it is found in the society where caste system is prevalent because some persons are compelled to carry on certain prescribed calling which are not of their choice. So far as equality is concerned one has to admit that all men are equal. Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless has been accepted as the governing principle.Individual as a unit in Ambedkarite concept of Social Justice

    Ambedkar emphasized that generally there are two fundamental and essentials of a free social order. According to him, “The first is that the individual is an end himself and that the aim and object of society is the growth of the individual and the development of his personality. Society is not above the individual and if the individual has to subordinate himself to society, it is because such subordination is for his betterment and only to the extent necessary”(Ambedkar 1987:95). It is with this aim he had rejected village as a unit of governance and adopted the individual as its unit. He vehemently criticized the part played by village communities in the history and congratulated the Drafting committee for accepting individual as the unit of governance (Ambedkar 1994:61-62). Ambedkar had argued for individual as end itself as he was fully aware of the fact that, “The Hindu social order does not recognize the individual as a center of social purpose… For the Hindu social order is based principally on class or Varna and not on individuals… (Ambedkar 1987:99). The followers of social justice laid main emphasis on “Individual”


    Ambedkar’s notion of Social Justice and Democracy


    Social Justice can survive into a form of government having a Democratic fabric. Democracy is more than a form of government for Dr Ambedkar. Democratic society is characterized by absence of stratification of society into classes and the social habit on the part of individuals and the groups which ready for the continuous readjustment of recognition of reciprocity of interest.13


  2. Political Equality

    He argued, “We must… not…be content with mere political democracy. We must make sure our political democracy a social democracy as well” (Ambedkar 1994: 1216). Ambedkar further defined social democracy as a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.(Ambedkar 1994: 1216). In his own words, “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social economic life we will have inequality. In Politics we will be recognizing 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 live this life of contradiction? How long shell we continue to live this life of contradictions? 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…”.


  3. Fraternity

    The second thing we are wanting in is recognition of the principle of fraternity. What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of Indians-If Indians being one people. It is the principle, which gives unity and solidarity to social life. It is difficult thing to achieve” (Ambedkar 1994: 1216-17)Dr. Ambedkar was of the view that only social justice could lead to social harmony, social stability and patriotic feelings. He believed that a democracy, which enslaves the working class, a class that is devoid of education which is devoid of means of life, which is devoid of any power of organization, which is devoid of intelligence, is no democracy but a mockery of democracy.


    For the survival of Political Democracy i.e. Political Equality the instinct of social Justice should be mingled in it. There should not be only Political Democracy but Social Democracy and Economic Democracy should also be there otherwise there would coup of Political Democracy. According to Ambedkar one of the way to deliver social justice to the individual was breaking the monopoly of the upper strata. Ambedkar in this regard opined, “…there can be no gainsaying that political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of a few. This monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment; it has sapped them of what may be called the



  4. significance of life. These down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves. This urge of self-realization in the down-trodden classes must not be allowed into a class struggle or class war. It would lead to a division of the House. That would a day of disaster.

    This can only be done by the establishment of equality and fraternity in all sphere of life. People are fast changing…They are getting tired of government by the people. They are prepared to have Government for the people…If (Ambedkar 1994: 1218).



    Ambedkarite Social Justice relating to Dalits and Women: Ambedkar as Social Reformer Dalits


    After watching and having experienced the plight of the marginalized class Dr BR Ambedkar raised his voice and commenced his mission social justice for the cause of the down-trodden, oppressed and the humble class who had been the victim of injustice, inequality, deprivation, discrimination and exploitation perpetrated by the Hindus social order for centuries.




    In 1936 Dr. Baba sahib Ambedkar delivered a speech at Damodar Hall and addressed devadasis, Muralyas and Jogathinis. “Our society has been put to shame because of you, Women are respected in our society, and every society honour’s the women of character. Therefore, you should forsake this dirty occupation, bring good names to yourself and your society.” He said so in his address in the All India Depressed Classes women’s conference held at Nagpur on July 20, 1942 that marriage is a liability and in case the girl marries should stand up to her husband claim to be her husband’s friend equal and refuse to be his slave. 14 He was crusader of the Indian women also who made tremendous efforts to upgrade the status of women and forced to change the Hindu Social System in order to protect this second important inalienable part of the Indian society, i.e. the women.


    Hindu Code Bill


    The reforms introduced by Dr.Ambedkar through ‘Hindu Code Bill’ have been adhered to and have been accepted by and large. He by codifying Hindu law in respect of marriage, divorce and succession, rationalized and restored the dignity of women. It is needless to say, the Bill was a part of social engineering via law. He was having a strong conviction that the Hindu Code Bill


    14Dr. Baba SahebAmbedkar writings and Speechs.Vol. 17,part-3,P.283


  5. would improve the condition of women and the proprietary rights of the women will be same as that of the men. The similar improvements can be done in the field of adoption and marriage also by the introduction of the Bill. He requested women section to support the Bill ultimately heading towards real democracy in the country. Justice P.B.Gajendragadhar while congratulating Dr.Ambedkar for the said “If Dr.Ambedkar gives us Hindus our code, his achievement would go down in history as a very eloquent piece of poetic justice indeed”. Ambedkar impartially concentrates on Muslim women also. He starts with the reference to mother India which created an impression throughout the world that while Hindus were grovelling in the mud of social evils and conservative, the Muslims in India were free of them and as compared to the Hindus, were progressive people.15Upliftment through Constitutional Means

    Ambedkar gradually got convinced that the Social Justice can be delivered through the government machinery and through constitutional methods. But Dalits should also have participation in the process of dispensation of justice. In this context he wrote, “The power to administer law is not less important than the power to make laws. And the spirit of the legislators may easily be violated if not nullified by the machinery of the administrators this is not the only reason why the depressed classes should show special concern for securing power of control over administration. Often times under pressure of work or under difficulties of circumstances one has to leave good deal of discretionary power in the hands of the heads of the administrative departments. The welfare of the people must greatly depend on how impartially this discretionary power is exercised in a country like India where the public service is exclusively manned by people of one community; there is a great danger of this vast discretionary power being used for the personal aggrandizement of a class.


    The best antidote against it is to insist on a proper admixture of caste and creeds including the depressed classes and there will be no difficulty in guaranteeing this safeguard to us by a clause in the Constitution. Such protection you could have dispensed with if there was any chance of the depressed classes being represented in the future cabinets of the country. But there is not the remotest chance of this in view of the fact that the depressed classes will always remain in minority. This makes it all the more necessary why you should insist upon such a guarantee” (Ambedkar, 1989:265).


    15B.R.Ambedkar on “Pakistan or Partition of India” Vol 8, P.225

  6. Reflection of Ambedkarite Social Justice in the Constitution of India

    Being the victim of social harassment since childhood existing in the society he was conscious of the prevailing unequal social order of India and therefore through Constitution, the Supreme document of this country he laid down the foundations of a socio-liberal welfare democratic state that can ensure a just and equal society for all quarters and at each front of the society.


    Before the actual work of the constituent Assembly had commenced Dr.Ambedkar proposed a memorandum on 15th March 1947 entitled “States and Minorities”. What are their rights and how to secure them in the Constitution of free India.” This proposal explained the aspect of social justice for minorities in free India. Although, this memorandum, on the ground of academic interest, was not considered. However, the feeling expressed by Dr.Ambedkar in this memorandum was significant to protect the minorities and weaker section.16Dr.Ambedkar concluded the debate on the preamble in these words “I say that this preamble embodies what is the desire of every member of the house that this Constitution should have its roots its authority, its sovereignty from the people that it has.” We do not want merely to lay down a mechanism to enable people to come and capture power.


    The Constitution also wishes to lay down our ideal before those who would be forming the government. The ideal is economic democracy having regard to the fact that there are various ways by which economic democracy may be brought about we have deliberately introduced in the language that we have used in the directive principles, something which is not fixed or rigid. We have left enough room for people of different ways of thinking with regard to the reaching of the ideal of economic democracy.17


    Social justice is not defined in the Indian Constitution but it is relative concept taking in its wings the time and circumstances, the people their backwardness, blood, sweat and tears.18 This indeed is social justice guaranteed by the Constitution of India because it strives to create“ balancing wheel between freedom, political and economic indeed, makes the survival of democracy.” 19 The preamble of the Indian Constitution is the mirror of social justice the words,


    16Many amendments were suggested by the members of Constituent Assembly,viz., Sri L.n.Sahu, Patabi Seeta Ramaiah, Smt. G. Durgabai,

    Pandith Thakur das bhargava, Dr. B.V.Keshkar, T.T.Krishnamchari, M. AnanthashamLyengar, K.Shantharam, Aututal Chandra, Upendranath Bhraman and Prof. K.T.Shah.

    17Purohit BR, sandeepjoshi,” Social Justice in India,” Rawat Pub Jaipur, 2003, p 25

    18Mohamed Shabbir “Ambedkar on law, Constitution and social justice” Rawat Pub, Jaipur, 2005,P.130

    19Mohamed Shabbir “Ambedkar on Law, Constitution and social justice” Rawat Pub, Jaipur,205, P.31.


contained in the Preamble, “justice-social, economic and political,’ “fraternity”, and “equality of status” to all the citizens are nothing but harbingers of social change in India. Part III of the Constitution relating to fundamental rights contains the theme of social justice. Of all the rights he regarded equality of opportunity for all citizens as the most important right. Moreover, the Indian Constitution has empowered the states to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially, educationally backward classes and also for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.20 It is protective discrimination and affirmative action by the state. Dr. Ambedkar through Constitution rooted the fundamental human rights, the dignity of the individual, socio-economic justice and equality, promotion of social harmony and better standards of life with peace and security in all sphere of life.


The important part of the Social Justice is the part IV of the Constitution as directive principles of state of policy. Although this part of Constitution is not enforceable by any court.21 The Directive Principles of state policy are also showing the spirit of social justice it the document. The builders of the Constitution gave more importance to social justice than to economic and political justice. On equality of opportunity with individual liberty emphasis has been given.22 The goal was to achieve a new social order based on justice-political a new social order based on justice-political, economic and social.


The concept of social justice is central and integral to the Constitution and it is assumed to be to be a basic structure of the constitution which cannot be whittled down, altered or done away with in view of the Doctrine of Basic Structure propounded in Kesavananda Bharati case.


Difference between Ambedkar and Gandhian concept of Social Justice


  1. While Gandhiji advocated decentralized village oriented development centered around Khadi and self sufficiency, Ambedkar advocated industrialization and urbanization. He felt that villages would not help break the caste identities.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi was skeptical of powers given to the state and advocated more powers to the society itself. Whereas Ambedkar advocated more powers to the state and was skeptical of the society (because of its inability to reform itself over time)


2036-CAD Vol.X-XII, P.456.

2139- CAD Vol.VII, P.662.

22Sanjay Prakash Sharma, Dr. BR Ambedkar a crusader of social justice (Jaipur, RBSA Publishers, 2003), p 128.


3.  Also Ambedkar personally rejected Hinduism because of inherent ills and his lack of trust over capacity to

reform while Mahatma Gandhi believed that any reforms could be brought from within the religion.


4. Also Gandhiji advocated that in our country, religion could not be separated from politics while Nehru and

Ambedkar differed greatly on the issue and promoted secularism.


5. Gandhiji supported truth and voluntary individual efforts for nation’s progress as his idea of nationalism.

While Ambedkar believed that only social, economic and political justice was true nationalism. Hence

Gandhiji’s was bottom-up approach while the latter evolved the top-down approach of nationalism.23


Significance of Ambedkarite Social Justice in present scenario


In the saga of Globalization, liberalization and privatization, the concept of Social Justice has assumed a greater significance. The meaning of Globalization in India is opening doors of our economy to the multinationals in the field of agriculture, industries, communication, transportation, electricity generation and distribution and also education etc. They are hardly concerned with environment, infrastructure development or with social justice. Many Multi National Companies (MNC) by emphasizing, on merit, have ignored the concept of social justice. Here man is considered merely a commodity and a person has to compete for the bread and business equally on the “Darwinian socio-economic order” i.e. struggle for existence and survival of fittest. Where as democracy thrives on the co-operative spirit so that strong and weak could survive and co-exist together like tall trees small bushes and grasses growing in the same socio-ecological plain.


All MNC’s should be made to work within the Constitutional frame work so as to ensure social justice to Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes and women in India. For this the state should make various rules, regulations and procedures. Otherwise, the concept of social justice will confine to black and white only and cannot be realized in practicality.


Vision of Ambedkarite Social Justice and its realization: An Appraisal


Over six decades of its progress India has not realized our founder’s vision of social democracy which is another name of justice and equality. In this context the last speech of Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly requires worth mentioning till today. In India,




  1. social experience says that casteism is having dominance here. Social Justice is not accessible to Schedules Caste, Scheduled Tribes living in remote areas. Their main source of income generates from cultivation, wage labour or some kind of non-farm self-employment. Likewise, equality in socio-economic front has not yet been achieved. Towards 1990s the neo-liberal economic policies adopted by the mainstream political party has posed a great threat to the affirmative policies of the Constitution. The ruling Government is not willing to provide reservations (social justice and equality) in the Private Sectors. Dr. Ambedkar’s dream of a society based on socio-economic justice, equality and human dignity is yet to be cherished. Hence, Social and economic justice still a utopian concept.
  2. Summary:
  3. Ambedkar’s contribution cannot be forgotten by the Indian History. He professed and gave social justice a broader perspective. His vision of social justice covered every deprived and marginalized class being the member of society. He did not think only about the betterment of Dalit but also relentlessly fought to see India as a democratic and welfare society in its true sense and spirit. Though he is considered to be the messiah of the oppressed, the downtrodden and weaker section in the entire mass but infused modern values to all Indian people. He fought for parity and equality for all section of the society in absence of which India cannot succeed. He is regarded as the doyens devoted to seeking equality and justice in India. He was philosopher who has firm and deep roots in the modernist ideology. Baba sahib had different freedom struggle for the liberation of the most oppressed sections of India society.
  4. Ambedkar the builder of modern India, contributed enormously towards nations building and reconstruction of society in many ways. For the first time, the great mass of India’s poverty-stricken, illiterate, oppressed, tortured and absolutely marginalized millions were united as citizens, with all the citizenship rights given to them after their denial to them that went unquestioned in the thousands of years of India history. This was Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s greatest contribution to the nation and whose far-reaching implications will be felt in the coming years with the emergence of a new India where the Dalit-Bahujan mass will be increasingly able to develop themselves, shape their own destiny by following the concrete paths shows by Dr.Ambedkar and be able to steer the country to new horizons and the spirit of his mission was social emancipation, political enlightenment, spiritual awakening and economic welfare of the masses.
you can view video on Social Justice Discourse : BR Ambedkar



  1. B. R. Ambedkar, 1990 Writings and Speeches Vol 7 (Published by Education Department, Government of Maharashtra).
  2. C.B. Khairmode, Bhimrao Ratnji Ambedkar, Vol. 6, (Pune: Sugawa Publication, 1985)
  3. Gopal Guru, “Twentieth Century Discourse on Social Justice: A view from Quarantine India,” in Sabyaysachi Bhattacharya, ed., Development of Modern Indian Thought and the Social Sciences, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  4. Ambedkar, Writing and Speeches, Vol. 19, Part II, (Education Department, Government of Maharashtra,2005)
  5. Ambedkar, Writing and Speeches, Vol. 17, Part III, (Education Department, Government of Maharashtra,2003)
  6. Dhanajay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1991), pp. 143-189.
  7. Sandeep Joshi,”Social Justice in India,” Rawat Pub Jaipur, 2003
  8. Venugopal P. “Social Justice and Reservation” Emerald Pub. Chennai, 1998
  9. B.R. Ambedkar on “Pakistan or Partition of India” Vol 8