We as a country were fortunate to have had a constellation of thinkers and leaders possessing wide opinions in our freedom struggle. No matter from which background they came, found themselves united for a common goal.
While fighting against imperialism a parallel ideological contest was taking place among our leaders to decide future form of government. Among the contenders were communism, socialism and democracy. Democracy was chosen considering the pluralistic nature of our society and dissent from communist party and socialist party demands at that time.
Again it should be noted that a internal struggle for religious and social reforms was undergoing in India for past centuries. Be it saints like Tukaram and Kabir or activists like Jyotirao Phule, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Gopal Hari Deshmukh, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Vittal Ramji Shinde and many many more.
That was the reason why Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar during drafting of the constitution in front of the Constituent Assembly on Friday 25th November 1949 said
"On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up.
The second thing we are wanting in is recognition of the principle of fraternity. what does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians-if Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life. It is a difficult thing to achieve. How difficult it is, can be realized from the story related by James Bryce in his volume on American Commonwealth about the United States of America.The story is- I propose to recount it in the words of Bryce himself- that-"Some years ago the American Protestant Episcopal Church was occupied at its triennial Convention in revising its liturgy. It was thought desirable to introduce among the short sentence prayers a prayer for the whole people, and an eminent New England divine proposed the words `O Lord, bless our nation'. Accepted one afternoon, on the spur of the moment, the sentence was brought up next day for reconsideration, when so many objections were raised by the laity to the word nation' as importing too definite a recognition of national unity, that it was dropped, and instead there were adopted the words `O Lord, bless these United States." There was so little solidarity in the U.S.A. at the time when this incident occurred that the people of America did not think that they were a nation. If the people of the United States could not feel that they were a nation, how difficult it is for Indians to think that they are a nation. I remember the days when politically-minded Indians, resented the expression "the people of India". They preferred the expression "the Indian nation." I am of opinion that in believing that we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into several thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realize that we are not as yet a nation in the social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. For then only we shall realize the necessity of becoming a nation and seriously think of ways and means of realizing the goal. The realization of this goal is going to be very difficult – far more difficult than it has been in the United States. The United States has no caste problem. In India there are castes. The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint.These are my reflections about the tasks that lie ahead of us. They may not be very pleasant to some. But there can be no gainsaying that political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of a few and the many are only beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey. This monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment, it has sapped them of what may be called the significance of life. These down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves. This urge for self-realization in the down-trodden classes must not be allowed to devolve into a class struggle or class war. It would lead to a division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster. For, as has been well said by Abraham Lincoln, a House divided against itself cannot stand very long. Therefore the sooner room is made for the realization of their aspiration, the better for the few, the better for the country, the better for the maintenance for its independence and the better for the continuance of its democratic structure. This can only be done by the establishment of equality and fraternity in all spheres of life. That is why I have laid so much stresses on them. "
A visionary indeed.
Today every agitation that we see in India filters down to the crude differences between oligarchic/plutocratic/kleptocratic & Democratic forces. (Socialism aside)
Which puts tremendous pressure on our democratic institutions to uphold the basic rights of our citizens. Our democratic institutions is the last line of defense, wherein if it fails one day we would lose our democracy. May that day never come but reality on ground seems alarming.
Which puts us one step behind our goal to become a true nation. First we need to strengthen our democratic machinery, restoring faith that every citizen is equal in front of these institutions. Second implementing honest socio-economic reforms which serves the common masses of our country bringing every citizen on a common psychological conscious. Then only we could dream of a nation truly in every regard.