India is celebrating its Republic Day on January 26. The constitution of India came into effect on this day in 1950. Ever since, India has come a long way, in an evolutionary manner as against a revolutionary way, in its development and progress. We, I think, remained on tracks. So far so good. India still has to go a long way on the road to transform its political democracy into social and economic democracy, as visualized by our fore-fathers particularly Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the main architect of the constitution. It is a matter of concern and worries that social inequalities particularly the caste system are still prevalent and harming the social fabric of the society. The ruling elite, somehow, could not rise and stand up to meet the challenge. Mere legal framework will not do. Rather than paying a lip service, the society needs to undergo a drastic change to bring about social change and empowerment. For this change, political will and social transformation is needed, before it gets too late. Otherwise, as warned by Dr. Ambedkar that people who are suffering from these inequalities for centuries would blow the edifice of political democracy we so laboriously established.
The second warning which Dr. Ambedkar gave in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 is more relevant in the prevailing political scenario in the country. The agitational approach of the urban middle class and a section of the educated elite have thrown up new challenges which tend to undermine the constitutional set up. New political outfits like the Aam Adami Party (APP) have come up. The style of functioning and the objectives they profess to achieve, prima facie, appears more effective and convincing. They tend to raise hopes to meet the hopeless situations in the prevailing general environment of corruption, inflation, VIP culture etc. But in the process, they tend to over look and overrule the established tenets of governance and constitutionally valid norms. Here lies the difficulty. The marginalized sections of the society particularly the socially oppressed, to my mind, may not gain out of this approach. Their only shelter, these vulnerable sections of the society will find, is that of the constitutional arrangements till they are socially and economically empowered. The parties like AAP and their leadership are oblivious of the issues of dalit empowerment through affirmative actions like reservations and establishing of a casteless society though they swear by the Preamble of the constitution “We the people of India”. I only hope that this “we the people” include the oppressed and depressed masses. These are the hard ground realities which were working in the minds of our fore-fathers led by Dr. Ambedkar and his associates while framing the constitution. Keeping these realities and ground situation in mind, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar warned and said “If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”
We may ignore these warnings of one of the wisest leaders of India at our own peril. With this, long live the Republic of India.