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India Has Made Great Leaps Forward Since The First Republic Day On January 26, 1950

By Zile Singh

 

“Let new India arise out of peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough, out of huts of cobbler and sweeper”- Swami Vivekananda

 

On January, 1950, we opened our door into a Rose Garden by adopting our Constitution.    The garden where “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 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 top 8 Salient Features of the Indian Constitution are:

(1)        Lengthiest Constitution in the World:  It   has 395 Articles and 12 Schedules.  About 90 Articles have been added since 1951.  The additional Articles are as part of the existing Article (e.g. Article 21A, 35A, B).  UK has no written Constitution where as there are just 7 Articles in the US Constitution.

 

(2)        Drawn from Different Sources:   It has been drawn from the Government of India Act, 1935 and Constitutions of other countries like, UK, USA, Ireland, USSR (now Russia), Canada, Australia, Germany and France.

 

  • Federal System with Unitary Features: Its Federal features are dual system of governance (Centre and States); division of power between executive, judiciary and legislature, supremacy of the Constitution, and bicameralism (lower and upper houses of Parliament) The Unitary features are a strong centre, All India Services common to the centre and the states, emergency provisions and appointment of Governors by the President.  Article 1 mentions India as a “Union of States” and not a “Federation of States” Parliament has the power to create States.

 

  • Parliamentary Form of Government: Executive is part of the Legislature, collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Legislature, Majority Party rule, leadership of the Prime Minister in the Centre and the Chief Ministers in the States, dissolution of the lower house, Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies and the Cabinet form of government.

 

  • Balance between Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy: The Supreme Court is vested with the power of judicial review.  It can strike down any Parliamentary  law as unconstitutional through its power of judicial review.  On the other hand, the Parliament, as the representative of the will of the people can amend the Constitution through its amending powers.

 

  • Independent and Integrated Judicial System: India has a single system of judiciary with the Supreme Court at the top with the High Courts and subordinate courts at State level.  In matters of appointment, salary and pension, power to punish for its contempt, and ban on the practice by judges after retirement the judiciary is independent.  Removal of judges is through impeachment procedure which is very difficult to pass through in Parliament.

 

  • Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy: the Fundamental Rights are justiciable whereas the Directive Principles are non-justiciable.  The Directive Principles aim to make India a welfare state.

 

  • Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility: Some provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, i.e., a 2/3rd majority of the members of each house present and voting and majority ( more than 50% ) of the total membership of each house. Some other provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and with the ratification by half of the total States.

 

Some other features are Fundamental Duties, Emergency Provisions and Universal Adult Suffrage.

 

While presenting the Constitution to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949  its  Chief Architect Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, (A) “ … 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 …”

(B) “ …. 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…”

(C) “ ….. 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…..”

 

Under-developed in 1950 – Today,  India is in the category of Developed Nations. “Peoples Love is the Government’s Lifeguard”

 

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

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