Revisiting Inequality and Caste in State and Social Laws: Perspectives of Manu, Phule and Ambedkar

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Akanksha Sanil


The Constitution, as a formal legal document, reflects a commitment to secure to all citizens, Equality, Justice, and Liberty, as a non-negotiable duty of the State. The nature and context of present society, however, is embedded in its socio-cultural development through civilisations. This study aims to engage with such a manifestation of state power as revealed in the text Manavdharmashastra, that marked the origin of codified social laws to derive legitimacy and establish a ‘divine’ authority to rule. Subsequently, the pioneers to critique the dysfunctions of Manu’s social laws became a subject of interrogation by social reformers like Jyotirao Phule and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Methodologically, our effort will be to weave together an intertextual analysis based on scientific observation of the case of caste subaltern, through three widely acknowledged texts—Manusmriti, Phule’s Slavery (Gulamgiri), and Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, on ideals of society and governance, in order to present a historical legacy into the origins of social hierarchy as an institutional mechanism to perpetuate inequality among subjects. The aim is to develop an approach to evaluate the ancient political thought of Manusmriti, and probe contradictions and realism in actions, with explicit excerpts of relevant texts, to authenticate the credibility of facts and its alignment with the central thought. The article eventually attempts to suggest alternatives to secure the vision of an ideal Indian society that aims to disintegrate the institution of caste.

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Sanil, A. (2023). Revisiting Inequality and Caste in State and Social Laws: Perspectives of Manu, Phule and Ambedkar. CASTE A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 4(2), 267–287.
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