We can understand the
what our constitution
in two ways.
- We can understand it by reading the views of some of our major leaders on our constitution .
- Read what the constitution says about its philosophy . This is what the preamble to the constitution does.
The Dream and the Promise
- Mahatma Gandhi’s name was missing from the sketches of the makers of the constitution because he was not a member of the Constituent Assembly .
- He had spelled out what he wanted the constitution to do in his magazine, Young India, in 1931 :
“I shall strive for a constitution which will release India from all thralldom and patronage … I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of the intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men …
I shall be satisfied with nothing else.”
- This dream of an India that has eliminated inequality was shared by Dr Ambedkar , who played a key role in the making of the Constitution , but his vision of removing inequalities from India was different .
- He often bitterly criticised Mahatma Gandhi and his vision .
- In his concluding speech to the Constituent Assembly he stated his anxiety very clearly:
“On the 26th of j anuary 1950 we are going to enter 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.”
- Finally, Jawaharlal Nehru gave his famous speech to the Constituent Assembly at the stroke of midnight on 15 August 1947 :
" Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity …
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.”
Philosophy of the constitution
- Values that inspired and guided the freedom struggle and were in turn nurtured by it, formed the foundation for India’s democracy .
- These values are embedded in the preamble of the Indian Constitution .
- Inspired by American Model , most countries in the contemporary world have chosen to begin their constitution with a preamble .
- The constitution begins with a short statement of its basic values . This is called the preamble to the constitution .
- The preamble provides a standard to examine and evaluate any law and action of government , to find out whether it is good or bad .
- It is the soul of the Indian Constitution .
- We, the People of India : The Constitution has been drawn up and enacted by the people through their representatives , and not handed down to them by a king or any outside powers .
- Sovereign : People have the supreme right to make decisions on internal as well as external matters . No external power can dictate the Government of India .
- Socialist : Wealth is generated socially and should be shared equally by society . The government should regulate the ownership of land and industry to reduce socioeconomic inequalities .
- Secular : Citizens have complete freedom to follow any religion . But there is no official religion . The government treats all religious beliefs and practices with equal respect .
- Democratic : A form of government where people enjoy equal political rights , elect their rulers and hold them accountable . The government is run according to some basic rules .
- Republic : The head of the state is an elected person and not a hereditary position .
- Justice : Citizens cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of caste , religion and gender . Social inequalities have to be reduced . The government should work for the welfare of all , especially disadvantaged groups .
- Liberty : There are no unreasonable restrictions on the citizens in what they think , how they wish to express their thoughts and the way they wish to follow up their thoughts in action.
- Equality : All are equal before the law. The traditional social inequalities have to be ended . The government should ensure equal opportunity for all .
- Fraternity : All of us should behave as if we are members of the same family . No one should treat a fellow citizen as inferior .
- A constitution is not merely about a statement of values and philosophy . It is mainly about embodying these values into institutional arrangements .
- Much of the document called the Constitution of India is about these arrangements .
- It is a very long and detailed document . Therefore it needs to be amended quite regularly to keep it updated.
- Those who crafted the constitution felt that it has to be in accordance with people’s aspirations and changes in society .
- They did not see it as a sacred , static and unalterable law . So they made provisions to incorporate changes from time to time . These changes are called constitutional amendments .
- Like any Constitution, the Indian Constitution also lays down a procedure for choosing persons to govern the country .
- It defines who will have how much power to make which decisions .
- And it puts limits to what the government can do by providing some rights to the citizen that cannot be violated .