The BBC released a video late last year of an interview it conducted with B.R. Ambedkar in 1953.

The content of the video is interesting and remarkable. It reveals Ambedkar to be very cynical about constitutional democracy working in India: ‘We have a social structure which is totally incompatible with the parliamentary system’.

During India’s constitution-making process, Ambedkar on various occasions warned the Constituent Assembly about the challenges that democracy would face in India; On 4 November 1948, while presenting the Draft Constitution to the Constituent Assembly he argued that: ‘…Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic…’ On 25 November 1949, a day before the Assembly adopted the Constitution, he warned the Assembly:

‘We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy…..In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality….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.’

By 1953, as evident in the BBC interview, we see that Ambedkar seems to lost significant hope about constitutional democracy working in India. What could explain this change in stance? We will explore this in forthcoming posts.