In the context of the European and Indian systems of democratic governance, we ask what it means to raise the question of social rights constitutionalism today. The usual answer is that it means increasingly little. Under the dominant rationalisation social rights are increasingly less affordable compensations for the social costs of the integration of markets on a global scale. But while the comparison we undertake cannot escape the diagnosis of the relative diminution in the age of austerity, it insists on the theoretical importance of insisting that the thinking of social constitutionalism is an achievement of democratic constitutionalism, crucial to the self-understanding and self-reflection of both constitutional systems, and thus irreducible to market exigencies. A critical approach in this mode must, we argue, confront and critique the pervasiveness of a new ‘thinner’ constitutional imaginary that threatens to eclipse the social dimension of the constitution.