“Fraternity as a concept was added by Dr. B R Ambedkar in February 1948, in the aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination,” noted Rowena Robinson, a professor of Sociology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Bombay. She delivered a talk on “Pursuing the Idea of Fraternity in Indian Constitutional Law” at the Department of Sociology. The talk was part of her ongoing work that analyses the inception and re-emergence of the idea of fraternity in the constitution, and its application in Indian legal system.

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Robinson, who is the recipient of the prestigious M.N. Srinivas award by the Indian Sociological Society explained to the M.A, M.Phil. and PhD students of sociology the origin of the concept of fraternity in both the Indian and global context. “Fraternity is a horizontal solidarity, and our constitution sees its infringement in terms of class, caste and religious divisions,” said Robinson.

“The Supreme Court has used the concept of fraternity only in the judgment of a dozen cases. In these, all cases of educational discrimination have received a judgment where the fraternity is upheld. Be it in case of class or caste based inequalities”, noted Robinson with her analysis of legal case studies specially the Indira Sawhney case.
Dr. Aparna Rayaprol, Head, department of Sociology further added that increasing privatization could possibly lead to decrease in fraternity and increase discrimination. This could be open for sociological analysis, she said.

But in a stark contrast, Robison’s analysis notes that the judicial interpretation of fraternity with regard to housing co-operations was poor and problematic. She used the case study of Zoroastrian Housing Cooperatives.

Rowena Robinson is the author of Boundaries of Religion: Essays on Christianity, ethnic conflict and violence.

-By Donita Jose, Department of Communication

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