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Republic Day Is An Important Celebration To Remember Why We Fought For Freedom From The British

By Zile Singh

Ambassador(Retd.)

Before taking over  the Republic Day we have to talk about the Independence Day of India, i.e. August 15, 1947, when India got freedom from the British yoke.  This fateful day in Indian history dawned after immense struggle and sacrifice by thousands  of Indians.  Countless  lives were offered at the Altar of freedom.  The nation owes a lot to those patriots who kissed the gallows so that the successive generations can breathe in an atmosphere of freedom and chalk out their destinies for a better tomorrow.

On  Independence Eve,  the first Prime Minister of India, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru said,  “ We have been provided  a car,  with all brakes, but no engine”.  With the car he meant independence and with the engine he meant the Constitution.  Between August 15, 1947 and January 26, 1950, we had an interim government.  Upon Independence, the title of Viceroy was abolished.  Until June 21, 1948, Mountbatten remained as Governor General and  after that,  C. Rajagopalachari was appointed   the   Governor-General  as  representative of the British Government.

We needed an engine(Constitution) to move forward.  The onerous task of writing the Constitution fell on the shoulders of the Constituent Assembly consisting of 299 members elected from all over India.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who later became the First President of India was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly.   Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was made   the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

Before undertaking the job, Dr. Ambedkar studied a number of Constitutions of other countries, like UK, USA, France, then-USSR, Ireland, New Zealand etc.  On November 26, 1949 the Constitution received the signatures of the President of the Assembly and was declared as passed.    It took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to complete the work.  The Constitution was adopted  on January 26, 1950 making India a Sovereign Democratic Republic. Since its adoption, for the first time,  November 26  was declared as the “Constitution Day” in 2015 by the NDA Government.    The terms Socialist and Secular  in the Preamble were incorporated by the  42nd  Constitution Amendment Act in 1976.   The words  “ unity of the nation” were changed to “unity and integrity of the nation” in the same Amendment. Ours is the largest written Constitution in the world.  It is rigid as well as flexible.

India is one of the fast developing economies. According to Nikkei Asian Review, India’s economy would be world’s No. 3 by 2028. The GDP growth is expected more than 7.5% during next two years.  Some excerpts from the Constituent Assembly speech by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on 25th November 1949 are worth consideration  after 68 years of our Republic:

  1. “ .. I feel, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.  The Constitution can provide only the organs of State such as  the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary…..”

– He meant that the worth of the Constitution would be judged by the intent of  its implementation and interpretation.  Separation of Power is the most important feature of our Constitution.  But, lately, it seems that instead of the “Separation of Power” it is leading towards an  “ Amalgamation of Power”.  Nexus among the three pillars of democracy is evidently clear.   Criminals are entering the Parliament and the State Legislatures with fanfare.   In the 2014 General Elections, even though the voter turnout was its highest ever, at 66.4% , one thirds of MPs have criminal records.  Inefficiency  and negligence of duty of the Executive/bureaucracy and also the recent rebellious mood in the Judiciary are not  a good omen for a sound Republic.  Money and muscle powers are openly used to grab political power. Pluralism and Liberalism are being used by divisive elements.

  1. “ … We must hold fast to constitutional methods for achieving our social and economic objectives. It means that we must abandon the methods of revolution and civil unrest.  These methods are the Grammar of Anarchy….”

–  The Self-styled vigilante groups and mobocracy  are taking law and order in their hands.  Minorities and weaker sections are being harassed and murdered with impunity.  At the same time, these vulnerable sections are being led and used for ulterior motives in the name of region, religion and caste.   The woman and  the girl child are passing through a critical phase.  According to the National Crime Record Bureau, there is a rape every 30 minutes.

  1. “… Independence is no doubt a matter of joy. But let us not forget that this independence has thrown on us great responsibilities.  Times are fast changing.  There is a great danger of things going wrong.  People will get tired of Government by the people.  They will be  prepared to have Government for the people…”

Accountability and Responsibility are lacking.   Despite an immense amount of development in varied fields since our Republic,   the problems of unemployment, health, housing, education, poverty and pollution need to be tackled effectively.   Giving preference to one religion over the other and one community over the other will create disharmony causing a dent on the unity in diversity and the unity and integrity of the nation.  “ Sabh ka saath, Sabh ka vikas” should be a hallmark in its letter and spirit.

Happy Republic Day and Jai Bharat!

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .

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