Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
‘Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of its social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life.’ -BR Ambedkar. 26 January 1950 was the day India’s Constitution came into effect, and the country became a republic. The day- 26 January- was chosen for a particular reason, as it marked a key event in the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule as on the same day i.e., on 26 January 1930, the declaration of independence pledge was taken by people in Lahore at the session of the Indian National Congress. The Constitution of India is the basic document to govern India, which had not come into existence overnight or by an exercise of few people of political ideology but it is an elaborate and vigourous exercise undertaken by the best available intelligentsia of the time. This cream of the country of the time is credited with giving a direction to develop the Country in a wider spectrum and as a modern Nation.The Indian Constitution is the document from which every piece of legislation derives its validity. Anything going against a provision of the Constitution can be challenged in the ‘Court of Law’. “However a good constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However a bad constitution be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good” – Dr. Ambedkar. The preamble says that we are a Democratic Republic. What does democracy mean to all of us? To define it in a layman’s language Democracy means that the power is in hands of the people to decide how and by whom the country is to be run. But today does the real power lie in the hands of the people as it was believed when the constitution was applied? It is no more ‘by and for the people’. Now, it is more or less a board game and players are the politicians with personal profits as the winning amount. When we go through the very first words of the Preamble “We, the people (The words ‘We the people’ signifies that it was a document given by the people, to the people and for the people) of India, are 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”. We can ponder upon, whether the constitution in true terms expresses the will of the people or is it just becoming a tool in the hands of some politicians? Are the people of India in real terms assured of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity? Is the common man today receiving justice? Securing justice to all – social, economical and political, is one of the chief aims of our constitution. But this has hardly been actually put into action. Our judicial system which is responsible to provide justice to each and every individual is one of our slowest systems. Thousands of under-trial prisoners are still in jail, living in inhuman conditions and are being denied even basic rights of living. Does equality really prevail? More than 77 per cent of India’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 10 per cent of its population and economic divide is widening every day. 1 per cent richest are controlling more than 51 per cent of the wealth. Is liberty being exercised by all today? Individuals are deprived of this protection. The time, at which Indian constitution was drafted, common people were unaware of fundamental rights, or rights of women etc. So the thought of including all such things while keeping in mind how India should be in future was a proactive thought. The fundamental rights under part III of our constitution too need to include many of those rights that have developed over a history of various judicial pronouncements. These rights though not really stated as fundamental rights but have been recognised as fundamental in nature and are better known as ‘implied fundamental rights’. Right to food, right to privacy, right to livelihood, right to clean potable drinking water, right to fresh and clean environment, right to speedy justice etc. These rights need to be added in the Chapter ‘Fundamental Rights,’ as they are equally important in today’s time for every Indian.Concluding I will shut down my observation that the Constitution requires additional pages to be tagged with it, restricting tainted politicians to take part in elections as they by winning elections this way or that way. In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, of the 539 winning candidates analysed by the ADR, as many as 233 MPs or 43 per cent have criminal charges. “There is an increase of 109 per cent [in 2019] in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009”- ADR. Other tagging I look forward to in the Constitution is to have a qualification bar for contesting candidates. After the end of the British Rule in India in 1947, the literacy rate of India stood at 12 per cent whereas in 2020, we have 74.04 per cent literacy rate in the country, and somewhere 40 percent MPs at present are not even graduate and they are part of the law making process for 75 percent literate class. Lastly our Constitution is a collective work of a number of committees headed by different persons as their Chairman’s associated with the Constituent Assembly such as: committee on rules of procedure, Dr. Rajindra Prasad, ad-hoc committee on national flag chaired by Dr. Rajindra Prasad, states committee, union powers committee and union constitution committee chaired by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, committee on the functions of constituent assembly chaired by G. V. Mavlanker, advisory committee on fundamental rights, minorities and tribal and excluded areas, chaired by Vallabhbhai Patel. But alas! We remember and give all credit to the chairman of only one committee i.e., drafting committee, chaired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.The matter is required to be given due attention to this aspect and let us salute all the Chairman of all the committees and all the members associated with the constituent assembly, whose dedicated work culminated in the shape of Indian constitution.
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