Republic day and We

25Jan09

Following is an extract of a speech delivered by one of Atrocitynews Editors on this 26th Jan 2009, in an event to pick commomerative reflection of the revolutionary significance of the day. Please read and comment

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We gathered here on occasion of India’s Republic Day — a momentous journey, a history in Modern World, and all this has achieved because of famous document, which we adopt, enact  and presented to ourselves , on 26th November, 1949. To shape it and make it workable our beloved Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar did tremendous effort, sacrificing and struggling almost single handed.  The constitution was accepted fully on 26th January 1950.

 

Today’s subject assigned to me is Indian Constitution; The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest document in the world. And I’ll try not go give you answer on salient features of Indian Constitution, which I did few months back while appearing for exam of Law of Constitution. I’ll also not enter into technical details of Constitution like no of articles, amendments, and schedule. Nonetheless, today, we will try to explore the principles enshrined in this document through preamble and from views of Babasaheb Ambedkar expressed during constitutional debates.

 

But before going into that discussion, we all know Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was a chairman of drafting committee. And as a Chairman he has to shape the primary text before submitting them to Constituent Assembly, and most often discussion were guided and channelled by him. And besides, chairman he was member of more that fifteen committees, which were responsible to understand and present a draft on particular topic.

 

And as per the testimonies of few members and particularly of Krishnamachari, a member, editorial tasks rested largely on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s shoulder, which he completed irrespective of bad health. Because his intention though was to serve the interest of Scheduled Castes, he did the commendable work to serve the Nation.  Prior to constitution there was only law of Manu, and we all know what does that law talk about. We won’t go into details of it here, so by adopting constitution we have established is incredible. A major framework/ skeleton of establishing social transformation is laid. If we go through the Articles of this constitution, you can see.  It has that power! It is that weapon, by which social revolution can be brought without a bloodshed. It has rejected all forms of oppression which was existing prior to constitution. It was rejected the romanticism of village and Gandhian model of village, were we witness all forms of caste based discrimination.  It rejected the ideal of ‘Ram Rajya’, which was advocated by many then, including Gandhiji. The constitution upholds the dignity of man, cherished principles, and talk about the modernisation, education and values. Perhaps, Indian constitution is the only constitution in the world which talks about scientific inquiry. But still Babas and Devis are mushrooming in India, rather are felicitated by awarding Universities to them, and the result is that, education being imparted is not contributing to enlightened India.  Granville Austin has described the Indian Constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar as ‘first and foremost a social document.’ … ‘The majority of India’s constitutional provisions are either directly arrived at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement.

 

Dear friends, what we see today are very sorry state of affairs. The document lays responsibility and duty on educated lot to remove the conflict among castes and classes. But what we witness today here in Pune, the educated lot is making appeal to maintain the purity of race, avoid intercaste marriages, engaged in ritual and traditions, which segregate people. How we are going to be a nation, there will be more than 6000 nations if such things are being practised by every castes.  And on top of that, our state revenue minister, a maratha lady, while participating in Brahmin Convention said, ‘I will never make an allegation of casteism against Brahmin Community’. What a paradox, one is participating in caste sammelan and demanding scraping of caste based reservation.

 

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, in Thoughts on Pakistan, disagreed with both the Congress’s position that India was a nation and Muslim league’s that it could never be a nation. He observed, ‘My confident hope is that we can be a nation provided proper processes of social amalgamation can be put forth’.  Nor there was, nor there is a process of Nation Buidling initiated on the contrary we see the argument of Hindu Nationalism, artificial fear is being created in the name of terrorism. Was there no terror before attack on Taj, and suddenly a wave is created against terrorism. Thousands of people flock to street taking candles, its good people have shown the solidarity. Was there no terror before Taj attack. Thousands of people are still displaced and are under attacks, in Orissa. Is it not terror? How many of us has shown the solidarity for those thousands, none.  What do you see, in parliament today is that, two anti-terror law is passed, 10-15 bills are passed, without discussion in 10 minutes.

 

Social Conflict, are continuous, as compared to attacks on Taj, which is occasional. Babasaheb, In buddha and his dhamma cites Buddha as saying, ‘the problem of war is a problem of conflict. It is only part of a larger problem. This conflict is going on not only between kings and nations but between nobles and Brahmans, between householders,.. The conflict between nations is occassional. But the conflict between classes is constant and perpetual. It is which is the root of all suffering in the world… I have to find a solution to the problem of social conflict.’

 

 

A democracy as defined by Walter Bagehot, is government by discussion. But what we see is 10-15 bills are passed in parliament without discussion.  I’m raising this point because, according to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, two matters should be dealt by every constitution. Firstly, What is the form of Government that is envisaged in the Constitution, and secondly what is the form of the constitution.  Though, today we can’t enter into detail discussion of this two points. I’ll state briefly that, we have adopted a Parliamentary Democracy as a form of Government and Our Constitution have Federation and at the same time have uniformity in all basic matters which are essential to maintain the unity of the country. According to Babasaheb, The constitution… Both unitary as well as federal according to the requirements of time and circumstances.  The means adopted by the Constitution are three:-

a.     A single judiciary,

b.     Uniformity in fundamental laws, civil and criminal, and

c.     A common all india civil services to man important posts

 

Indian Constitution is such historic document, a document of social change, social transformation.  While delivering the concluding speech, the architect of the Indian Constitution said, ‘I feel that it is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peace time and war time. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad constitution. What we will have to say is, that Man was vile’.

 

He also warned, that today we are entering in the world of contradictions, Politically we are equal and socio-economically we are divided, and urged the people to remove this difference. Even after six decades of governance, the rule of law in the Indian society have not achieved the intended results, however, the participation in Parliament from so called lower castes has increased, and there’s still ray of hope. The survey conducted in 2005 confirms that participation from lower castes is increasing, which I think is a good sign. The election in America has shown, change can happen within democratic setup, and lets hope for that, on this occasion of Republic Day. Perhaps, we have to ‘Obey the Constitution’, which the life-size statute of Dr. Ambedkar appeals to member of parliament and citizens, with constitution in left-hand and fore-finger of right hand forcefully stretched towards parliament.  In order to realised the goals set-forth by this revolutionary document.

 

So now lets look at the principles enshrined in this document. In order to do that, we will go through the preamble of the constitution which mentions the objectives of constitution makers. Study of Preamble of  any legal document helps to understand the intent. It is a guide for rest of the document

 

The Preamble says,

 

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

 

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

 

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

 

The Preamble to our Constitution serves two purposes: –

 

A) It indicates the source from which the Constitution derives its authority;

B) It also states the objects, which the Constitution seeks to establish and promote.

As pointed out by Chief justice of Supreme Court in Golak Nath vs. State of Punjab, 1967 and also in Kesavananda Bharti Vs. State of Kerala, 1973

 

The words secular and socialist were inserted by the 42nd amendment.

 As we go through the preamble there are certain key words, which we can see in today’s discussion.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA

It lays responsibility and also represent the desire of members present then and every citizens…

 

To constitute India into

SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

 

No authority created under the Constitution is supreme; it is the Constitution which is supreme.

 

Democratic

 

The independent word in objective resolution was replaced by Democratic by Drafting Committee. Lets see in brief what democracy meant, and how Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar defines democracy. As I mentioned earlier the definition of Walter Bagehot earlier, Democracy means government by discussion. Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people’. Dr. Ambedkar, defines democracy in different way, according to him democracy is, a form and a method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of the people are brought about without booldshed’. He goes even further to that and says democracy as form of associated living, which we can see very much in Buddhist Sangha, model adopted by Buddha as form of ideal society.

 

Republic

(Latin res publica, literally “the public thing”), form of state based on the concept that sovereignty resides in the people, who delegate the power to rule in their behalf to elected representatives and officials

 

Today’s nature of political parties and representation- Supremo, party high command. Sanjay Dutt.

 

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar argued for one man one value in all walks of life, he said, ‘On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.

 

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

 

In Part III of constitution, we can find articles saying about equality before law and equal opportunities, and freedoms. Dr. Ambedkar emphasised the two fold objectives of Fundamental rights on their application. He said, The object of Fundamental Right is two fold, first that every citizen must be in position to claim those rights. Secondly, they must be binding upon every authority.

 

It is worth noting that, Dr. Ambedkar was the first leader in India who emphasised as early as 1927 the importance of the words, liberty, equality and fraternity. Speaking about his philosophy of life, he said, ‘My philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words, liberty, equality and fraternity’. He further said, that it has root in the teachings of his master, the Buddha and not French revolution.

 

In his philosophy, liberty and equality had a place, but he added that unlimited liberty destroyed equality, absolute equality left no room for liberty. He gave the highest place to fraternity as the only real safeguard against the denial of liberty or equality.

 

In one late essay. ‘Buddha and Karl Marx’, he concludes by referring to the three revolutionary values, …Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the three can coexists only if one follows the way of the Buddha.

 



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