'Ambedkar's constitution': A radical phenomenon in anti-caste discourse?

Bhaskar, Anurag (2021) 'Ambedkar's constitution': A radical phenomenon in anti-caste discourse? CASTE: A Journal on Global Exclusion, 2 (1). pp. 109-131. ISSN 2639-4928

[thumbnail of C2021.pdf]
C2021.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (708kB) | Preview


During the last few decades, India has witnessed two interesting phenomena. First, the Indian Constitution has started to be known as ‘Ambedkar’s Constitution’ in popular discourse. Second, the Dalits have been celebrating the Constitution. These two phenomena and the connection between them have been understudied in the anti-caste discourse. However, there are two generalised views on these aspects. One view is that Dalits practice a politics of restraint, and therefore show allegiance to the Constitution which was drafted by the Ambedkar-led Drafting Committee. The other view criticises the constitutional culture of Dalits and invokes Ambedkar’s rhetorical quote of burning the Constitution. This article critiques both these approaches and argues that both do not fully explore and reflect the phenomenon of constitutionalism by Dalits as an anti-caste social justice agenda. It studies the potential of the Indian Constitution and responds to the claim of Ambedkar burning the Constitution. I argue that Dalits showing ownership to Constitution is directly linked to the anti-caste movement. I further argue that the popular appeal of the Constitution has been used by Dalits to revive Ambedkar’s legacy, reclaim their space and dignity in society, and mobilize radically against the backlash of the so-called upper castes.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ambedkar | Constitution | Anti-Caste | Caste | Dalit
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Political Science
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2022 08:25
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2022 08:25
Official URL: https://journals.library.brandeis.edu/index.php/ca...
Additional Information: I thank Shubham Kumar, Deepak Kumar, Disha Wadekar, Kumar Shanu, Shree Agnihotri, Michael Klarman, Faizan Jawed Siddiqui, Raja Sekhar Vundru, Surbhi Karwa, Rohit De, Priyanka Preet, Poo Ko Saravanan, Prashant Ingole, Surendra Kumar, Mahtab Alam, Ashok Gurung, Neil Modi, Tarunabh Khaitan, S. Anand, Alex George, Rama Lakshmi, and Deesha Dalmia, who have helped me in various ways in the last two years to conceptualise, develop, and refine the ideas discussed in this paper. I acknowledge the valuable feedback given by Sukhadeo Thorat, Laurence Simon, and Vinod Mishra, of J-CASTE. I am grateful to the jury for selecting this paper for the Bluestone Rising Scholar Award 2021.
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/1517


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item