Reading & Understanding Ambedkar

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA2

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Moggallan Bharti

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Basic understanding of Social Sciences


The course is broadly conceived to introduce Ambedkar’s ideas and their relevance in contemporary India, by reading and understanding some of his key texts. The central thrust of the course is to understand Ambedkar beyond caste and the impact of his ideas on the larger questions of constitutional democracy in general and nationalism in particular. In this proposed course Ambedkar’s concept of nation, state, democracy, law and constitutionalism are to be pedagogically read and interpreted. This will enable students to critically engage with the existing social concerns and its political implication. This will also facilitate them to strengthen their creative thinking with a collective approach to understand ongoing sociocultural and political functioning of the society.

The proposed course gel well within the four walls of the Development Studies program and its stated learning outcomes, committed to imparting and creating knowledge with an interdisciplinary approach.

Key Learning Objectives

  1. To enable students becoming more informed about the debates around the idea of nation and nationalism.
  2. To make the learning ability of students more tolerant and sensitive to the otherwise marginalized discourse around Ambedkar thoughts and philosophy.
  3. Students will be able to understand that the idea of nation, as abstract it is, is constituted through people who attribute a worthy meaning to nationalism, and it is not the latter that defines the former.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, it is hoped that a student will develop an in-depth understanding about the ideas and philosophy of Ambedkar. A student is thus expected to develop a critical insight in to the functioning of the social in the widest possible sense and how this complex and diverse social could function with a more reasoned and progressive politics of social justice.

Brief Descriptions of Main Modules:

  1. Introducing Ambedkar  Approach to Study Polity, History, Economy, Religion and Society
  2. Nationalism & Democracy Democracy and Citizenship
  3. Constitutionalism Constitution as an Instrument of Social Transformation

1. Introducing Ambedkar

In the popular imagination, Ambedkar is broadly confined to his ideas on the Hindu caste system and the role he played in drafting the Constitution of India. These ideas, besides its obvious significance, tend to overshadow other important thoughts of Ambedkar containing his rich social and political philosophy, vital to understand society of equals as he conceived. It is these thoughts and ideas that need more concerted attention and discussion among the scholars and the module will initiate the discussion structured with this very perspective of reading Ambedkar in order to understand his wider philosophy.


  • Valerian Rodrigues, (2002) ‘Introduction’, The Essential Writings of B.R. Ambedkar’, OUP. pp. 1-43.
  • B. Ambedkar, (1993) ‘Waiting For a Visa’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol.12,Education Deptt, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 661-691
  • B. Ambedkar, (2003), ‘Role of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in Bringing The Untouchables on the Political Horizon of India and Lying A Foundation of Indian Democracy’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17-I, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp-63-178.

2. Nationalism & Democracy

The discourse around nationalism is the most contested one in India, and that continues to keep the social and political division very sharp, if not messy. Opposed to a linguistic, ethnic and religion driven nation, Ambedkar’s view and the ideological adhesive required to keep the ‘nation’ together is far removed from the hegemonic discourse on nationalism commonly accepted in India. Ambedkar’s idea of constructing a nation is then understood as nation evolving through democracy. This module will discuss the idea of nation, nationhood and nationalism through the idea of fraternity emphasized by Ambedkar. His philosophy to create such a fraternal society invariably will begin with his understanding and meaning of a democratic self and society, to be looked through his ideas on Buddhism and the Bahujan politics he envisaged.


  • B. R. Ambedkar, (1990), ‘Pakistan Or The Partition Of India’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches Vol-8, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp-345-403.
  • B. Ambedkar, (2003) ‘Conditions Precedent for the successful working of Democracy’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17-III, Education Deptt, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 472-486.
  • B. Ambedkar, (2003) ‘Buddhism paved way for Democracy and Socialistic Pattern of Society’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17-III, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 406-409.
  • B. Ambedkar, (2003) ‘Failure of Parliamentary Democracy will Result in Rebellion, Anarchy and Communism’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17-III, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 423-437.
  • B. Ambedkar, (2003) ‘Prospects of Democracy in India’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17-III, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 519-523.
  • B. R. Ambedkar, (2003), ‘I have no Homeland’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches Vol- 17, Education Deptt., Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp-51-58.

3. Constitutionalism

Building on the previous two modules, this module will initiate the discussion on the meanings and dimension of a constitutional democracy in Habermasian sense of communicative action of individuals seeped in to constitutional ethos. The module will discuss on key writings of Ambedkar in order to make sense of his idea on democratic world which becomes possible in his schema through a constitution which mirrors peoples’ lives and thus work towards strengthening through the discourse rights and duties invoked through constitution.


  • B. Ambedkar, (2003) ‘People cemented by feeling of one country, One Constitution and One Destiny, Take the Risk of Being Independent’, in Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar Writings and Speeches Vol. 17-III, Education Deptt, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, pp. 13-59.
  • Ambedkar, Evidence before South Borough committee on Franchise, Available at 0Committee.htm, Accessed: 19.04.2013.
  • Constituent Assembly Debates, Ambedkar’s speech on Draft Constitution on 4th November 1948, CAD Vol. VII, LokSabha Secretariat, Government of India, 3rd Print, pp. 31-41.
  • B. Ambedkar, (2013), States and Minorities, Delhi: Critical Quest.

Further Readings:

  • C. Jangam, (2017). Dalits and the Making of Modern India.Oxford University Press.
  • G. Omvedt, Liberty Equality and Community: Dr. Ambedkar’s Vision of New Social Order, Available at, Accessed: 19.04.2013.
  • G. Omvedt, (2008) ‘Phule-Remembering The Kingdom of Bali’, Seeking BegumpuraNavyana, pp. 159-184.
  • G. Aloysius, (2009). Ambedkar on Nation and Nationalism, Critical Quest, Delhi.
  • E. Zelliot, (1996) ‘From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement’, in The Leadership of BabasahebAmbedkar, Delhi: Manohar, pp. 53-78.
  • M. Gore, (1993) The Social Context of an Ideology: Ambedkar’s Political and Social Thought,
  • Delhi: Sage Publication, pp. 73-122 ; 196-225.
  • SurajYengde, AnandTeltumbde (2018), The Radical in Ambedkar – Critical Reflections. Penguin.
  • Rohit De (2018), A People’s Constitution – The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic.

4. Methodology of Teaching and Learning:

Teaching and learning activities of this course will include: lectures; thematic discussions; film screenings/discussions; preparation of article/book reviews; and presentations.

Assessment Details with Weights: The Assessments of this Course will include:

  • Home Assignment (50 %)
  • Exam (50 %)