Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3 X 3 things on 1st Constitution Day


The 1st Constitution Day is being celebrated today on 26th November, 2015. It is, like a few official mails would want me to believe, not the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. Ambedkar was born on April 14. The Constitution was adopted on this day in 1949. It is a welcome step to to celebrate Constitution Day, regardless of the times we live in, for in the Constitution lies the leveler, the law, the script of destiny that was bequeathed upon the people of India.

3 sets of 3 things each that i wish to make a mention on this day are:
1. Three issues that framers of Constitution had on their mind
2. Three warnings of Dr B R Ambedkar vis a vis democracy in India
3. Three to-do things for

Three issues:
It is imperative to understand the throes the newly formed country was in to understand what has gone into the thick book of Indian constitution.
i) National unity was foremost in the minds of the drafting committee for India strictly was many nations in a nation. Nationality could not be defined in absolute terms, or as the West used to define it. It was necessary thus to embark on ideals that would hold the vast country together.
ii) Social uplift: India in 1947 was a poor country with high rates of illiteracy, poverty, destitution and mired in social evils. The constitution took it upon the state to address these issues. There lay a fundamental difference between American and Indian Constitution. More on that later.
iii) Foreign Policy: It was an important matter for the framers to view India, the newly formed country in the global picture. A lot of statutes thus dealt with this future worldview.

Three warnings:
In the now famous 'grammar of anarchy' speech, Dr Ambedkar had three warnings for independent India which could undermine democracy. These warnings hold good to this day.
i) Undemocratic ways of achieving social and economic objectives. He said bloody ways of revolution was no way to achieve such objectives. However the anarchy has continued unabated in independent India.
ii) Political bhakti: He warned against hero-worship in politics which he said could lead to dictatorship. Indian political history and present is replete with such instances.
iii) Social democracy: Dr Ambedkar stressed on the trinity of liberalism, equality and fraternity as necessary for social democracy which in turn is a bedrock for political democracy. Each component is incomplete without others. Though a work in progress, India has seen lack of components of the trinity.

Three to-do things:
i) Civics books at school introduce the young to Indian Constitution but only superficially. The engagement needs to continue irrespective of choice of vocation into adulthood.
ii) Neutral forums must be created, or sought where debate on provisions of constitution could be held. For the Constitution was not made binding to every generation. That would be sign of a healthy civil society which can let its concerns made known to the powers that be.
iii) Equally important is to hold to the letters the institutions that the Constitution has given. Only then would the Idea of India be healthy for all.

Happy 1st Constitution Day!

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