The Breakdown of Social Justice for the Oppressed- A Critique of Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s Concept of Social Justice

 The Author of this blog is Gaurav Kumar Yadav & Shruti Kasera, student of BA LLB (H) & BBA LLB (H), from Faculty of Law, Integral University and Law College Dehradun 


“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was an exalted champion of social justice in India. In their opinion the cause of injustice in Indian society is caste and it is designed with the support of Hinduism in India. Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes, and religious minorities have to be denied their basic human rights at the hands of upper-caste Hindus. The caste system in India is a system of social stratification that has pre-modern origins changed during the British Raj, and today it is the foundation of reservation policy in India.

It consists of two different concepts, Varna, and caste, which can be considered as different levels of analysis in this system. Varna can be translated as "class" and consign to the four social classes Vedic society was present, namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishya's, and Shudras.[1]

Jati can be interpreted as caste and referred to as birth. Developed in the Vedic period, after the Vedic period during crystallization of guild of its feudal era.[2]Jatis is often demarcated by relating it to one of four the Varna's.[3]

After India achieved independence, a new development took place and reservation policy (caste-based) was made for the scheduled castes (Dalit) and scheduled tribes (Adivasi) in the job. Since 1950 government made many policies, laws and take initiative to protect the lower caste People both economically and socially like admission quotas job reservations, etc.[4]Article 15 of the Indian Constitution stated that discrimination against lower caste people is illegal and an offense in which India sees nationwide violence against lower caste people.[5]

The term Dalit is derived from Sanskrit word and the root 'Dal' means Split, break, crack, and so on. For centuries the Dalit termed as untouchable and outcastes. The British administration replaced this term with 'Depressed Castes' in 1919 and Gandhi Ji Says Harijan (People of God). Ambedkar rejected and demand separate electorates for 'Depressed class'.

Based on ritual purity and occupation, Dalits rank lowest in the caste hierarchy and outside the Varna system, which gives him the traditional name Panchuma. They were tortured, accused of doing agricultural work, and polluting businesses like disposing of dead bodies, toilets, and cleaning sewage, etc. Their dignity was stripped and basic human rights were denied.

Dalit converted their religion to a large number in Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism for human dignity and equality. Ambedkar opted for Buddhism and converts into it with millions of Mahars. Ambedkar did not opt to convert into Christianity and Islam because their genesis is not to fight with the Caste system.


Justice is a very complicated concept. It has been investigated by different people from different perspectives within the range of time, place, and situation they lived in. Social justice is the amplitude of the concept of justice that stands for setup of society based on the principles of equality, freedom, and fraternity.

Ambedkar's concept of social justice is for the freedom, equality, and fraternity of all human beings. He stood for a social arrangement that is based on the right relationship between man and man in all regions of his life. He did not favor any kind of hypocrisy, injustice, and exploitation – by a man in the name of religion. Ambedkar stands for a social order in which no person can be judged great or untouchable because of his birth every man is judged based on their achievement and merit. He pleads for the special policy for socially and economically exploited people of the country. The greatest evil of the Hindu religion is the caste system. Dr. Ambedkar said, "Caste is the monster that crosses your path, you cannot have political reform, and you cannot have economic reform unless you kill this monster,[6]Ambedkar stands for that social system where man's status is shown based on his merit and achievements where no one is untouchable because of his birth. Article 17 of the Indian Constitution stated the abolition of untouchability. Ambedkar in his speech in the constituent assembly he stated that-

‘I have completed my work; I wish there should be a sunrise even tomorrow. The new Bharat has got political freedom, but it is yet to raise the sun of social and economic liberty’[7]


All citizens' basic civil and political rights and fundamental rights are guaranteed under the constitution. Some special provisions in the Constitution prohibit discrimination based on caste that is Article 15, 16, 17. The right against exploitation Article 23 and cultural and educational Article 29.[8]

Union and the State legislature have reserved the seat for the SC/STs based on their population in each constituency under Article330 &333.[9]The creation of a national commission for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes for monitor and protection provided to them under Article338.

The Concept of equality and justice both in the social and political fields our Constitution accepted. It abolished discrimination on basis of religion, caste, sex, and place of birth, etc under Article 15, and the state promote and take special care of the economic and educational interest of scheduled castes and scheduled Tribes or weaker sections under Article 46 of Directive Principles of State policy and protect them from social injustice.

Part 3 Indian Constitution provides fundamental right which protects minority rights like Article 14 equal protection of law and equality before law and Article 15 prohibits discrimination on basis of race religion caste sex place of birth etc. in regards to access public places and Article 16 which talks about equal opportunity for public employment. And not discriminate on basis of race religion caste and creed for public employment and state make laws for backward classes for an appointment for post and Article 17 abolished untouchability.

In Balbir Kaur v/s Steel Authority of India[10] the apex court mentioned that the concept of social justice is the benchmark to the legal justice. In another case of Ashok Kumar Gupta v/s State of UP[11]it was held that “Providing proper representation to the SC/ST Dalits in services is a social justice and thus, is a matter of fundamental right.”


In Consumer Education and Research Centre v/s Union of India,[12]it was held that "Social justice is a device to ensure life to be meaningful and livable with human dignity. The state has to provide facilities to reach a minimum standard of health, economic security, and civilized living to the workmen. Social justice is a means to ensure life to be meaningful and livable."

The role of government in the social sector is constantly shrinking government escaping itself from the responsibility of providing education and health to all. The public institution is shrinking and private institutions have emerged. Education and health have now become profitable businesses which are very dangerous for poor people who cannot afford expensive facilities. The struggle between upper and lower caste people in India has a long history. Whatever Ambedkar has done for the oppressed community he faced so much opposition from upper caste people of the Hindu community outside parliament and also in parliament. The whole responsibility of social justice he shoulders on the state he has no option left because he is the only educated person in his Community. It is the struggle of Ambedkar for oppressed communities SC/ST/OBC who are more oppressed and exploited Community in India the present oppressed community has more than 50 lakh students and lakh of teachers in higher education in India because Constitutional rules which prevent him from any injustice.

It is said by Ambedkar that rights cannot be saved by law it is saved by the social consciousness of Society. There is no law, no parliament, and no Judiciary that can guarantee in the real sense the fundamental rights that were opposed by society.[13]Teaching Community must fulfill their social responsibility of awakening the oppressed Community about their struggle history if they do not fulfill then there is no hope from the government in this globalization era which creates intense social caste clash and tension. Dr. Ambedkar warned about this.[14]Dr. Ambedkar gave the full responsibility to do social justice with the oppressed communities to the state. But our experiences show that the state had failed to complete the responsibility. India is facing many internal problems in states like Naxalism, caste tension, riots, etc. The cause of failure of responsibility for providing social justice to oppressed communities can be monopolized by the upper castes in Indian politics.[15]


The concept of social justice is centric and integral to the constitution and is believed to be a fundamental structure of the constitution that cannot be changed or changed keeping in mind the principle of basic structure as started in the Kesavananda Bharti case. Emergence of private institutions affect many poor people for whom it is dangerous because they can't afford it that excludes him and it will lead to multiple exclusion and discrimination. There is a mighty need to provide safety to weaker sections of society from exploitation and capitalism and the state has ensured to provide better education and health and employment to these communities who are ignored by market forces. To conclude, it can be said that eliminating such social stigma requires widespread social change and respect for basic human rights for all.

[1]SmithClassifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varṇa System and the Origins of Caste, pp. 9522-9524, oxford university press, Journal of the American Academy of ReligionVol. 64, No. 4 (2005)

[2]Dipankar Gupta, Interrogating Caste, p. 212, economic and political review, penguin India, 14 october 2000,

[3]Bayly, Susan, Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age, Cambridge University Press, (2001) ISBN 978-0-521-26434-1

[4]Ex-India President Narayanan dies BBC News, Wednesday, 9 November 2005

[5] Ncrb,“CRIME AGAINST PERSONS BELONGING TO SCs / STs Government of India” page 108,(2011)

[6]Kazeha, K. S. “B.R.Ambedkar; The Architect of the Constitution”, in Shymlal&Kazeha K.S. (ed), “Ambedkar and National Building,” Rawat Publication: Jaipur.(1998),

[7]Dr. B.R. Ambedkars Ideas on Social Justice in Indian Society by Raghavendra R.H. Contemporary Voice of Dalit8(1) 24–29 2016 SAGE Publications India Private Limited page no. 27,CAD Vol. X-XII

[8]Dr. J. N. Pandey, “Constitutional Law of India Forty Second Edition”– Published Central Law Agency, Allahabad,

2005, pp. 662-663.

[9]Ibid 7

[10]Balbir Kaur v/s Steel Authority of India (2000) 6 SCC 493

[11]Ashok Kumar Gupta v/s State of UP1995 (70) FLR 89, (1994) IILLJ 740 All

[12]Consumer Education and Research Centre v/s Union of India1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42

[13]P. Lalbeer, Mohan “Ambedkar on Religion: A Liberative Perspective”, ISPCK: Delhi.(2003),

[14]A. RanjithKumar, “Ambedkar’s Notion of Social Justice - A Different Perspective”, International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Vol. 2, Issue  12, December-2011

[15]Dr Sunita (2017) “Dr. Ambedkar's Views on Social Justice and Challenges before It”, GJRA - GLOBAL JOURNAL FOR RESEARCH ANALYSIS, Volume-6, Issue-2, 2, February – 2017, ISSN No 2277 - 8160