UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Section B – Social Structure:
(ii) Caste System:
Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
Features of caste system.
Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
Section C – Social Changes in India:
(i) Visions of Social Change in India:
Idea of development planning and mixed economy.
Constitution, law and social change.
Education and social change.
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar was a saviour of the suppressed classes, a noted Jurist, the chief architect of India constitution and a profound scholar. The role played by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar has left its imprint on the social tapestry of the country after independence and shaped the political and civic contours of India today. B.R Ambedkar acquired deep knowledge in every field of human activity to become a founder of his own independent ideology.
AMBEDKAR AS A SOCIAL REFORMER
The most important battles Ambedkar fought were for the rights of his people. The treatment given to untouchables angered him. He attacked Hindu society for what it had done to the untouchables, but also told social reformers from the upper castes that caste could not be annihilated unless the old religious texts themselves are questioned. If Ambedkar was critical of Hindu society, he was also critical of Muslim society, especially its regressive politics and its treatment of women.
AMBEDKAR ON CASTE SYSTEM
Calling Chaturvarna absurd, Ambedkar says that Varna system, which has been made to safeguard people, curbs the paramount requirements of self-preservation by denying a shudra physical (freedom of military), political (against suffering) and moral (education) rights. The shudras are ill-treated by tryavarnas (brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas).
Annihilation of Caste is an account of the belief that social reform has to take precedence over political and religious reform, providing instances of the tyranny practised by upper-caste Hindus on the untouchable community of India. Talking about social reform, Ambedkar highlights the need to reconstruct the Hindu society, break the caste system, and urges Hindus to admit that one caste is not fit to rule another caste.
AMBEDKAR ON ELIMINATING CASTE VIOLENCE
By identifying quantifiable elements of caste violence, Ambedkar believed that the seemingly insurmountable structural violence of caste could be overcome. In an attempt to counteract these specific elements, Ambedkar devised three distinct strategies: political and physical separation; uplift to overcome socio- economic deprivation; and, officially legislating against violence, both symbolic and physical.
AMBEDKAR AND DEMOCRACY
The Constitutional text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination. Ambedkar argued for extensive economic and social rights for women, and also won the Assembly’s support for introducing a system of reservations of jobs in the civil services, schools and colleges for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, a system akin to affirmative action. For him, political democracy without social and economic democracy was a double deception. He warned that as long as there was inequality on the social and economic plane there can be no political democracy, except in name or form. Unlike most of the Indian leaders, he never indulged in unnecessary glorification of the Indian civilization. He frankly pointed out to the several weaknesses that the Indian society suffered from. He honestly contended that democracy was a top dressing on the Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic‖. He believed that constitutional morality is not national sentiment and it has to be cultivated.
GANDHI AND AMBEDKAR – DIFFERENCES IN PERSPECTIVES
Gandhi distinguished between abolition of untouchability and abolition of caste system as such. On this point he differed from Ambedkar who advocated annihilation of the caste system to remove untouchability. Gandhi felt that whatever the limitations and defects of the varnashram system, there was nothing sinful about it, as there was about untouchability. In political percepts, Ambedkar believed in freedom of religion, free citizenship and separation of State and religion. Gandhi also endorsed the idea of freedom of religion, but never approved a separation of politics and religion. But religion as an agent of social change was well accepted by both leaders. For Gandhi, ‘Gramraj’ was ‘Ramraj’ and real independence for Indians. But for Ambedkar, the status-quoist nature of the Indian villages denied equality and fraternity and also liberty. As the scourge of casteism and untouchability was most dominant in the rural areas of India, Ambedkar believed that ‘Gramraj’ would continue the social hierarchy based on discrimination and inequality.
In the political domain, he promoted separate electorate, party building and public policies like reservations and did not hesitate to collaborate with the ruler of the time – be it the British or the Congress for having things done. In the social domain, he militated in favour of reforms at the grass root level – education being his first goal and reforms by the state as evident from the Hindu code bill. He has not only prepared the ground for a silent revolution, but has also played a key role in the drafting of the Constitution of India which has set the terms for the development of the world largest democracy.