Reinvigorating the Essential Constitutionalist
There cannot be a more appropriate time than now to remember the eternal values of the Constitution and its significance. The discourse watchers and the class of narrative builders are bent on fixing the contours of civic tolerance. There seems to be an unending schism between intolerance and the Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. The bandwagon impact of manufacturing intolerance on the basis of one-off incidents is greatly conspicuous these days. However, moving on from a rather superficial discourse centered on the general atmospherics; we found ourselves amidst the celebration of the maiden Constitution day.
It was on this day (November 26) in 1949 that the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It came into force on January 26, 1950, marking India’s Republic Day. Men and women who drafted the Constitution were persons of great vision and foresight. As chairperson of the drafting committee and a lone voice to the historically deprived section of the society, Dr. B.R.
Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, forthrightly steered the wheels of the committee and produced the lengthiest Constitution for the world’s most diverse nation. Somehow the civilisational consciousness of our great nation has never failed to acknowledge the role played by our subaltern heroes in the field of documenting important events and thereby paving the socio-cultural trajectory. The immensely articulate contribution of Ved Vyas and Maharshi Valmiki in the making of Mahabharata and Ramayana respectively is evident of the aforementioned hypothesis. Babasaheb’s intellectual personality coupled with his robust grip over the issues of the disadvantaged made him the most appropriate candidate for the job. His multidisciplinary scholarship in economics, sociology, and politics created an envious body of work and was second to none. The unquestionable popularity of Babasaheb amongst the oppressed classes added a much-needed democratic fervor in his quest of building a fair, equitable, and an inclusive document that was to guide the destiny of over 1/6th of the humanity. More than six decades of Independence and here we are proudly flaunting to the world our unique model of development that is inclusive of both economic growth and democracy. He and his flock were probably right in their own realm.
“All the parties have overwhelmingly welcomed the two-day special sittings to discuss ‘Commitment to the Constitution as part of the 125th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Dr.B R Ambedkar’,” Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs said after an all-party meeting. We can only hope for some constructive engagement inside the Parliament on this occasion when the legislative output is indispensable to sustain the reform agenda of the present dispensation.
From the Horse’s Mouth
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the occasion of the first Constitution Day observed that the Constitution of India had ensured “dignity of Indians, and unity of India.” He was speaking in the Lok Sabha on the occasion of the special sitting to commemorate Constitution Day, and the 125th birth anniversary of the architect of the Constitution, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
Considering the diversity of our nation, we need to take the provisions of the Constitution to the people. The adoption of Constitution Day on the 26th of November is reflective of the government’s will to perpetuate the ideals of the Constitution. Remembering its chief architect, he said, “No amount of praise is sufficient for Babasaheb for what he has achieved for the nation”.
Pitching for a reconciliatory engagement in the Parliament, he said that democracy becomes stronger through consensus and agreement; while the concept of majority and minority is always the last resort.
Until now, confined within the four walls of the judiciary and legislature, the much-publicised Constitution Day would certainly take the Constitution into the mainstream discourse. The understanding of the Constitution is fundamental for instigating civic sense into the citizens.
Some Tangible Takeaways
Time is probably right to contemplate on mainstreaming the study of the national Constitution at the level of senior secondary for making our future citizens more aware and sensitive to the duties of self, and the rights of their fellow citizens. Legal linguistics can be simplified and be made more understandable and accessible for the masses and not only for the classes of law practitioners. As a byproduct of the first takeaway, we may witness relatively more informed debates and discourses by the civil society. This might also further help in institutionalising public ethics and morality.
(Guru Prakash is a Dalit scholar pursuing his Ph.D. in Law from University of Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal.)