The Democratic Vision of Ambedkar

Context - 

The idea of democracy presented by Dr B.R. Ambedkar has been the subject of several studies, mainly through the prism of social, political, and economic philosophy.

What, in the eyes of Ambedkar, Makes a Democracy?


  • Ambedkar's perspective of democracy as a strategy that impacted every facet of human existence may be understood by taking a closer look at the Buddha and his Dhamma.
  • The ideas of Buddha, Kabir, and Mahatma Phule significantly influenced Ambedkar's involvement in democracy.
  • He argued that despite its foundational principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity, democracy must also be judged ethically.

Morality's Use in the Caste System:

  • Ambedkar examined the caste structure, the Hindu social order, the essence of religion, and Indian history through the prism of morality.
  • Ambedkar brought the most oppressed populations into democracy. Hence it was challenging to integrate his democratic framework inside these rigid socio-political and religious institutions.
  • Ambedkar made an effort to build a new structure based on Buddhist teachings.

Integrating individualism and fraternity:

  • He criticised excessive individualism as a possible result of Buddhism since people with such traits did not engage in activities that questioned societal order.
  • Therefore, he thought that to create a healthy society. There must be a balance between individualism and brotherhood.

Practicality's significance:

  • Practicality was of paramount significance to Ambedkar.
  • For him, ideas and theories needed to be tested before being used in society as intended.
  • He applied logic and critical thinking to analyse any topic since, in his view, a topic must first stand the test of reason before it can be rejected, changed, or amended.

What was Ambedkar's opinion on Indian society?

The Caste System:

  • He claims that the caste system is a particularistic value in Hinduism based on his understanding of Indian society.
  • According to the political ideology of particularism, one group should advance its interests without considering those of other, bigger organisations.
  • According to Ambedkar, the higher castes particularise the negative universal morality and universalise the negative particularity (their power over other groups) (wherein the caste system and the subsequent alienation of certain groups is justified).
  • In essence, this unfavourable social relationship is "undemocratic."
  • Ambedkar tried to integrate the democratic practices of Buddhism into the discussion of modern democracy to combat this division.

How Religion Affects Democracy:

  • Ambedkar believed that connected life would not be conceivable without religion and that democracy was formed from religion.
  • As a result, he strives to rebuild a new form of democracy that incorporates the democratic qualities of faiths like Buddhism rather than eliminating components of religion.
  • Finally, Ambedkar realises it is crucial to distinguish between social norms and principles to conceptualise democracy as a way of life.
  • Ambedkar explains how the principles of Dhamma, which include Prajna or knowledge and thought, Sila or right conduct, and Karuna or compassion, arise as a "morally transformational" notion that destroys regressive social connections in The Buddha and His Dhamma.

What are the prerequisites Ambedkar outlined for the operation of democracy?

Taking on Social Inequalities:

  • In society, there must not be any obvious inequities and no persecuted group.
  • There can only be a class with some privileges and responsibilities.

Strong opposition:

  • He stressed that there was a powerful resistance.
  • In a democracy, you have veto power. Elections serve as a periodic veto in which the public votes out a government. The opposition in parliament is an instant veto that restrains the authoritarian inclinations of the government in power. Democracy is a contradiction to hereditary or autocratic rule.


  • Moreover, he contended that parliamentary democracy fosters a love of freedom—the freedom to communicate ideas and opinions, conduct oneself with respect, and act in accordance with one's principles.
  • However, we can observe a corresponding decline in India's Human Freedom Index ranking, which coincides with a weakened opposition and, as a result, declining democratic credentials.

Legal and administrative equality:

  • Ambedkar defended equality in the legal system and government.
  • Likes should be considered seriously, and discrimination based on class, caste, gender, ethnicity, and other factors is unacceptable.
  • He advanced the notion of constitutional morality.
  • According to him, the constitution includes the bones of the law; the body is what he refers to as constitutional morality.

Source: TH 


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