Looking Back: Democracy of India
Before starting, I would like to raise few questions:
- Who is father of Independent INDIA?
We all know it is MAHATMA GANDHI JI.
- Who is the father of Indian Constitution?
It is Dr. AMBEDKAR JI
- Who is the father of MODERN INDIA?
I will answer it later.
Dr. BHIMRAO RAMJI AMBEDKAR’s life was full of profound learning, valiant self-respect, unbounded ambitions, great thought, towering intellect & stainless moral character.
He was, at his time, the most highly qualified Indian, unparalleled by anyone in whole of Asia not because of the number of his degrees- M.A., Ph.D., M.Sc., D.Sc., L.L.B & many more, but because of the application of these hard-earned degrees. He applied his education & intelligence to draft our Indian constitution, the fruit which we all enjoy today.
We all know him because of constitution, but he was also a philosopher, a socialist, & a thinker. He loved his books very much. His education & his teachers had a great impact on him. Once, his professor Irani, who belonged to Muslim religion, gave him a pair of dress upon learning that young Bhimrao had only one. This kindness of professor had a great impact on the mind of young Bhimrao. Another professor in his research days, professor Seligman, who taught him self-reliance during a research, was a life experience for Dr. Bhimrao, which helped him throughout his life.
He worked for social welfare. Once, his highness, SHAHU MAHARAJ, confessed that young Dr. Ambedkar was greater than him & doing a real service for non-Brahmins and the depressed classes of the society. Ambedkar belonged to a backword class of Hindu society, where, from his childhood, he experienced discrimination in its various forms. He experienced the pain of the lower class, their exploitation by higher class; which moved the child Ambedkar.
As a Hindu, he believed that Hindu social order does not recognise the “individual” as a centre, but is based primarily on class or vrna (or graded inequality) which neglects the trinity of equality, liberty and fraternity. He wanted equality among the different classes of the society. Indian society does not consist of individuals, but innumerable collection of castes which are standing as the denial of ideals of society & democracy.
While doing a detailed study of the social structure, he demanded for dissolving custom & demanded reconstruction of mental attitudes & preventing the separation of class into privileged & unprivileged, master & servants. He described society as graded inequality. He said, “There is no such thing as a caste, there are always casts”. And he emphasized for equality between different classes of society.
He provided definition of free society as (1) the individual is an ‘end’ in him/her & that the aim/objective of society is the growth of the individual & the development of his (her) personality, society is not above the individual & if the individual has to subordinate himself to society, it is because such subordinate is for his betterment & only to the extent of necessary, (2) the terms of associated life between members of society must be regarded by consideration founded on liberty, equality and fraternity.
According to him, liberty is freedom of opinion as necessary condition of all progress intellectual, moral, political & social. Real liberty exists only where exploitation has been annihilated, where no suppression of one class by another exists, where there is no unemployment, no poverty & where a person is free from the fear of losing his job, his home, & his food as a consequence of his action.
He said religion, social status & property are all sources of power & authority, in which one man has to control the liberty of another, & that if liberty is the ideal, if it means the destruction of the dominion which one man holds over another, then obviously it cannot confine only up to economic reform.
He argued for the RECONSTRUCTION OF MENTAL AND MATERIAL WORLD, for the prospered democracy, no other thinker, philosopher, or revolutionary of the world has pinned on this reconstruction of mental & material world which was philosophically, scientifically, & realistic consideration.
The Ideal society as conceived by Dr. Ambedkar is not only a democratic human society based on Liberty, Equality & Fraternity, but also on universal humanism, morality & well-being of all. The roots of this conception go deeper to the ideals of life-DHAMMA. He believed in a democratic society, no majority should have an upper hand in privileges, power & law, which should be independent & free from any biasness. He also believed that religion is for the betterment of individual, not individual for religion.
Previously, democracy was curbing on an autocratic king, autocracy of rulers but Dr. Ambedkar changed it to modern democracy by adding WELFARE OF PEOPLE, making common people the centre of the democracy. While addressing to POONA DISTRICT LAW LIBRARY, on 22 December 1952, he described democracy as:
- A society is democratic when there is no glaring inequalities in the society
- There is existence of opposition
- There is equality in law & administration
- Observance of constitutional morality
- There is no tyranny of majority over minority
- There is functioning of moral order in society
- Democracy requires public conscience
After drafting the constitution he said: ‘the making of constitution, task has only begun, for democracy is not a plant which grows everywhere & that the positive steps must be taken to remove the stones & the boulders, lying in the path to make our democracy safe’.
A democracy is only successful with GOOD GOVERNMENT, which means good laws & good administration i.e. advantage of all. Democracy is more than a political machine. It is even more than a social system. It is an attitude of mind or philosophy of mind. For new INDIA, he wanted a new social structure which he drafted in the constitution. He believed that the labouring, tailing, insulted, degraded, excluded & oppressed humanity of the world are the actors of reconstruction of modern democracy i.e. reconstruction of mental & material world. It, however, depends upon right understanding of relation of individual to society & use of force as energy.
Dr. Ambedkar not only gave us a new constitution, but also empowered us to dream for a new INDIA. He gave us a new INDIA, a new future in which we are the ones to decide. And as I asked in the beginning,
Who is the father of MODERN INDIA?
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is the father of modern India because he laid the foundation of modern Indian society. Today, when we think of democratic India, equality, fraternity, fundamental rights & duties, right to vote that all is possible just because of works of Dr. Ambedkar. When we talk about intolerance and inequality, it is only because of his forward looking. We have the power to decide, to argue, to repel, and live together. Equality, liberty & fraternity are the three pillars of modern democracy which were given to us by him. On the occasion of 125 birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar which is on 14 April, we all should remember him & salute him for his contribution to the INDEPENDENT INDIA.
Today the meaning of democracy is limited to the elections but we need expansion & deepening of democracy. Applying the basic principle of democratic government across all the regions, different social groups and various institutions, ensuring greater power to local governments, extension of federal principle to all the units of the federation, inclusion of women and minority groups, etc., This also means that less and less decisions should remain outside the arena of democratic control, strengthening of the institutions and practices of democracy. This should happen in such a way that people can realise their expectations of democracy.
Today, at the nation level, there are problems of poverty, unemployment, social unrest, illiteracy & corruption. These often bring us sorrow & pain, yet, if we analyse them, honestly, then we will find that their root cause is almost entirely a lack of proper thinking, acting & implementing. In a typical diverse nation like INDIA, the rapid pace of change presents as many challenges as opportunities.
Democracy is the slow process but as MARK TWAIN said “India is the cradle of human race, the birth place of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend & the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable & most instructive materials in the history of a man are treasured up in India”, democracy is also a treasure of India. We need to protect it, expand it, and contribute in its prosperity.