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The concept of fraternity

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure


Source: TH

 Context: Since India imbibes the principle of ‘unity in diversity’, having a sense of fraternity is a virtue that is essential.


Meaning of fraternity:

  • The word fraternity is derived from French to mean brotherhood, friendship, community and cooperation.
  • It is a sense of common brotherhood among all Indians giving unity and solidarity to social life.


The concept of fraternity in the Indian Constitution:

  • While submitting the Draft Constitution to the President of the Constituent Assembly (on 21 February 1948), B R Ambedkar (the chairman of the Drafting Committee) wrote that –
    • The drafting committee had added a clause on “fraternity” in the Preamble
    • Even though it was not part of the Objective Resolution
  • As a result, the Preamble (adopted on 26 November 1949, came into effect on 26 January 1950 and amended by the 42nd Amendment 1976) to the Indian Constitution mentions –
    • Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the Nation”.
  • Article 51A (Fundamental Duties) added to by the 42nd Amendment 1976 referred to the duty of every citizen ‘to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India’.
  • Both the Preamble and the Fundamental Duties can not be legally enforced, but have a moral, spiritual appeal.


Why is fraternity essential?

  • It is one of the four pillars of constitutional morality spelt out in the Preamble of India’s Constitution: justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.
  • Without fraternity, equality and liberty can’t be achieved, because the idea of fraternity is closely linked to social solidarity.
  • Gains coming from the other three are strengthened and enriched by a sense of fraternity.


Challenges that the concept face in India:

  • Fraternity remains the least understood, least discussed, and the least practised of the four pillars of constitutional morality.
  • Inequality and prejudice.
  • Politics of hate and weak democratic opposition.
  • Taking the form of loyalty to the state (nationalism), neglecting the principle of solidarity among citizens.
  • Feminists often criticise the idea/definition of fraternity as it excludes “sisterhood.”
  • Inter-state conflicts and challenges to internal security like left-wing extremism, terrorism, cybersecurity, fake news, etc


Steps taken by the Indian government:

  • Inter-state councils, Zonal councils, Social initiatives like Ek Bharat – Shrestha Bharat, National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), etc.
  • A ‘uniform’ and ‘Common Minimum Programme for Value Education’ was launched across the entire schooling system with a focus on ‘core Constitutional values’.


Way ahead:

  • Balancing the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
  • For this,
    • A functioning moral order in society and a public conscience is essential. This will help in imbibing the concept individually and collectively.
    • Each of Gandhiji’s Seven Social Sins must form the ethos of the socio-political fabric of India.


Conclusion: Ambedkar dreamed of an India in which divisions of caste and religion would gradually fade away in the spirit of fraternity. Therefore, investing in the concepts like fraternity would save society from fragmentation.


Insta Links:

The ambit of fraternity and the wages of oblivion


Mains Links:

The spirit of tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate. (UPSC 2017)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2020)

The Preamble to the Constitution of India is

  1. a part of the Constitution but has no legal effect
  2. not a part of the Constitution and has no legal effect either
  3. part of the Constitution and has the same legal effect as any other part
  4. a part of the Constitution but has no legal effect independently of other parts


Ans: 4