How fraternity in India is different from the idea enshrined in the Constitution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Values enshrined in Constitution

Mains level : Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • In the context of India’s independence struggle and the subsequent establishment of a constitutional democracy, the interplay of liberty, equality, and fraternity was deemed crucial for a diverse society on the brink of independence.
  • This essay delves into the historical origins of fraternity, its journey through different civilizations, and its significance in India’s socio-political landscape.

Understanding Fraternity

  • The concept of fraternity, often overshadowed by liberty and equality, plays a pivotal role in the realm of politics.
  • Philosopher Angel Puyol, in his book “Political Fraternity: Democracy beyond Freedom & Democracy,” argues that fraternity is central to the emancipation and empowerment of people.

Origins of the Concept

  • Ancient Greece: The roots of fraternity can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers like Plato emphasized the importance of sharing knowledge and wisdom among individuals. This early discourse hinted at the notion of political fraternity.
  • Medieval Europe: In the Middle Ages, fraternity found expression primarily through religion, especially within the context of Christian society in Europe. It began to evolve from a religious concept to a political one.
  • French Revolution: The concept of fraternity gained prominence during the French Revolution of 1789, symbolized by the revolutionary triptych of ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite.’ Fraternity, in this context, became a fundamental principle of civic-political friendship.

Friendship among Equals

  • Integral Value System: Fraternity thrived within community ties, with a foundation built on integral values. It prioritized the collective over the individual, gradually giving way to religious morality and a ‘way of life.’
  • Shared History: For fraternity to flourish, individuals must share a harmonious past. This shared history should be amicable, free from ideological divisions rooted in social inequalities among different communities.

Fraternity in India’s Context

  • Unique Societal Landscape: India’s fraternal bonds face unique challenges due to its history of social hierarchies and caste divisions. The shared history is marred by the caste system, hindering the principles of equality and liberty.
  • Secular Conception: To foster fraternity in India, it must be rooted in politics, where caste privileges can be challenged. Fraternity should be cultivated through political conditioning, separate from moral considerations.

Role in Indian Constitution

  • Constitutional Objective: The Indian Constitution recognizes the significance of fraternity in a society marked by various hierarchical social inequalities. It considers fraternity, along with liberty and equality, as a foundational political objective.
  • Affirmative Actions: Measures like affirmative actions, including the reservation system, aim to establish equality among diverse social groups in terms of access to social and economic resources.

Limits to Fraternity

  • Ignoring Inequalities: Fraternity loses its meaning if it overlooks social inequalities and promotes social solidarity built on animosity towards others. Such solidarity often perpetuates the status quo and reinforces privilege at the expense of the marginalized.
  • Nationalism vs. Fraternity: Belligerent nationalism can replace the call for fraternity, casting religious minorities as enemies. This has historically led to social and political discrimination against religious minorities in India.
  • Fundamentalism’s Impact: Fundamentalism, in any form, contradicts the essence of fraternity, as fanaticism is incompatible with true fraternity.


  • In India, the coexistence of caste and political fraternity, given the prevailing social milieu, presents challenges. To foster political fraternity, it is imperative to address social inequalities and caste divisions.
  • The future of Indian politics will determine whether fraternity or caste consciousness prevails, as the two are often incompatible.
  • Achieving true political fraternity requires navigating these complexities while prioritizing the principles of equality, liberty, and solidarity across diverse social groups.

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