It is beyond doubt that Ambedkar has been a victim of the process of"reductionism". He has either been reduced to the status of a Dalit leaderor, at the most, as the chief architect of the Constitution. However, ifwe evaluate his contribution in terms of statesmanship, politicalleadership, and intellectual inputs in economic, social, political,educational and judicial realms, we will be forced to call him anation-builder.
His endeavour to deconstruct and reconstruct Indiansociety on structural basis rather than by social reform is testimony to this. Ambedkar, a product of unequal social order with stigmatised identity,vehemently criticised the social reformers of his time for paying only lipservice to the issues of caste and untouchability. It is ironical thatthey never realised that these institutions have proved detrimental to aquarter of Indian population. Most social reformers during this periodtalked about social reforms like abolition of sati, child marriage, femaleinfanticide, imparting education to women, emphasis on widow remarriage,use of swadeshi, etc., instead of structural changes.
According to Ambedkar, the irony was that the social reformers wereunaware that these evils were offshoots of the caste structure. Hence,what India needed was annihilation of the caste system and not socialreforms. Second, these evils were not present among Dalits and Shudras;hence, these reforms had nothing for them. As the caste institutionaffected Dalits differently, Ambedkar wanted to end the caste systemitself. This, he knew, could be done only by questioning the sanctity of Hindu sacred texts, institutionalising inter-caste marriages andinter-dining, and dismantling the hereditary priesthood.
Another structure which Ambedkar questioned and wanted dismantled was theIndian village. He faced scathing criticism for ignoring the village asthe unit of administration in the draft constitution. Why was theConstitution not being raised and built upon the village panchayats? Hiscritics wanted India to contain many village governments. Ambedkar showed
the real image of Indian villages to the Constituent Assembly by statingthat Indian villages were devoid of equality, liberty and fraternity, and hence of democracy.
"It is the very negation of republic. If it is a republic, it is arepublic of Touchables, by the Touchables and for the Touchables. The republic is an empire of the Hindus over the untouchables," said Ambedkar. That is why he pleaded that the individual should be considered the unit of the Constitution, which was happily accepted. How can we ignore
Ambedkar's contribution towards the nation as whole, and 70 per cent of India's population that still lives in villages?
Ambedkar's major contribution towards reconstituting the Indian social structure was dismantling the hierarchical Indian society based on ascriptive and particularistic cultural traits and establishment of parliamentary democracy. He saw that democracy would ensure equality, liberty, fraternity, prosperity, and happiness to the common people. Therefore, he emphasised that social and economic democracies are sine qua non for a successful political democracy. But he cautioned against leaders taking a superficial view of democracy. He was against treatingm constitutional morality, adult suffrage and frequent elections as the be all and end all of democracy, because even western thinkers had made the
Parliamentary democracy collapsed in Italy, Germany and Russia in the 20th century because it could not create a government of the people or by the people; it was producing government of the hereditary ruling class. Real democracy, according to Ambedkar, would lead to the governing class losing power. His vision is bearing fruit today, when we see the subaltern classes - the Dalits and the OBCs who have never tasted power - in the corridors of power.
Finally, Ambedkar envisaged establishment of equality - social, economic, and political - not just as a slogan but as a concrete policy. He made equality of opportunity a fundamental right. But he was conscious that in an unequal society, equality of opportunity could lead to further production of inequality because those groups which were already ahead in
the social ladder would always have an advantage. Therefore, Ambedkar also enshrined "equality of condition" in the Indian Constitution. This condition was nothing but reservations for the Dalits.