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Caste, Law, and Foreign Policy: Nehru and Ambedkar's Divergent Paths (UPSC CAPF Essay 2024 | 2025)

21 Jun 2024

Jawaharlal Nehru and B. R. Ambedkar, two pivotal figures in modern India's formation, shared similar ideologies but differed significantly in their execution


  • Jawaharlal Nehru and B. R. Ambedkar, two pivotal figures in modern India's formation, shared similar ideologies but differed significantly in their execution

  • Their contrasting views on caste reservations, codification of Hindu law, and foreign policy were particularly prominent. Kashmir was another contentious issue.

Caste Reservations

  • Nehru, from an upper-class Brahmin family, was a secular humanist with a methodical approach to life, prioritizing efficiency and modernization. 

  • Ambedkar, from a socially ostracized Dalit family, experienced discrimination firsthand and was committed to dismantling caste hierarchies. 

  • While Nehru acknowledged the detrimental effects of caste politics, he did not support abolishing the system altogether as Ambedkar advocated.

  • Ambedkar proposed separate electorates for Dalits, similar to the rights extended to Muslims under British rule. This proposal was vehemently rejected by Gandhi, resulting in the Poona Pact of 1932, which allocated reserved seats for marginalized communities but without separate electorates. 

  • In 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel proposed abolishing reserved seats altogether, but Ambedkar's threat to walk out of the Constituent Assembly shelved these plans. Nehru, in a 1961 letter to chief ministers, expressed his dislike for reservations, emphasizing meritocracy and efficiency.

  • Years later, Ambedkar accused Nehru of focusing his efforts on protecting the rights of Muslims while neglecting other marginalized communities. 

  • Despite these tensions, Nehru recognized Ambedkar's contributions to liberating the backward classes, describing him as a "symbol of the revolt against all the oppressive features of Hindu society."

Hindu Code Bill

  • Ambedkar aimed to modernize Hindu law with the Hindu Code Bill, addressing property rights, marriage, divorce, adoption, and succession. He described it as “the greatest social reform measure ever undertaken.” Nehru supported the Bill but faced significant opposition within Parliament. To facilitate passage, Nehru broke the Code into four parts. 

  • However, by 1951, the Bills hadn't passed, leading to Ambedkar's resignation as law minister. Nehru eventually passed diluted versions of the Bills between 1955 and 1961.

  • The Hindu Code Bill faced opposition from conservative members of Parliament who resisted changes to traditional Hindu laws. Nehru, a pragmatist, felt that rushing the legislation would harm the cause of reform. 

  • Ambedkar, frustrated by the delays, criticized Nehru for not pushing the Bills more aggressively. In his resignation letter, Ambedkar expressed his disappointment with Nehru's government, stating that the Law Ministry was of "no importance" and questioning the prime minister's integrity in assigning ministries.

Foreign Policy and Kashmir

  • Ambedkar criticized Nehru's utopian foreign policy, advocating for stronger ties with the United States and opposing communism. He believed Nehru's diplomacy isolated India from the Western world, prioritizing peace over democratic ideals.

  • Ambedkar repeatedly questioned Nehru's decisions, accusing him of subverting democratic principles by befriending communist states.

  • In a 1951 speech, Ambedkar highlighted the shortcomings of Nehru's foreign policy, arguing that India had alienated itself on the global stage. 

  • He referenced statements by Bismarck and Bernard Shaw to emphasize that politics should focus on practical possibilities rather than idealistic goals. Ambedkar believed that Nehru's approach was detrimental to India's interests.

  • On Kashmir, Ambedkar opposed Nehru’s stance, advocating for a zonal plebiscite that would consider the sentiments of non-Muslims living in the region. 

  • He also criticized Article 370, which granted special status to Kashmir, believing it would create another sovereignty within India, jeopardizing national unity. Ambedkar feared that a plebiscite might go against India and argued for a more nuanced approach to the issue.


  • Despite their differences, Nehru and Ambedkar respected each other’s right to disagree. Nehru valued Ambedkar's perspectives enough to invite him into his Cabinet, and Ambedkar saw common ground to accept the offer. 

  • Their relationship highlights the complexities and challenges in the execution of shared ideologies, demonstrating the nuanced dynamics between two of India’s foremost leaders. 

  • Nehru's tribute to Ambedkar upon his death in 1956 reflects this respect: "Ambedkar had been a very controversial figure in Indian politics, but there can be no doubt about his outstanding quality."

Note: In this CAPF essay, the world limit has gone to +600, you can take relevant portions as per your need. Further, we have given subheadings for your reference. When you write in the UPSC exam, you don't need to do that.

(Nehru and Ambedkar conflicts, caste reservations in India, Hindu Code Bill, Kashmir issue, Article 370, Nehru's foreign policy, Ambedkar's criticism of Nehru, modern Indian history, B. R. Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru,UPSC CAPF, Assistant Commandant, Essay writing, UPSC, CAPF, UPSC CAPF AC essay topics 2024, UPSC CAPF AC exam preparation, UPSC CAPF current affairs, UPSC CAPF AC syllabus 2024, CAPF AC essay writing tips, UPSC CAPF AC previous year question papers, UPSC CAPF AC study material, CDS, NDA, SSB, AFCAT, CSE, IAS, IB ACIO, Current Affairs, News)

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