Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
26th November was chosen by PM Modi as ‘Constitution Day’ to spread the importance of constitution and spread the thoughts and ideals of Dr. Ambedkar. On this day, the constituent assembly of India adopted the constitution of India which came into effect on 26th January 1950.
What is Constitution Day?
Constitution is the fundamental law of land. So having a day designated for the celebration of the constitution was overdue. The aim of declaring November 26 as the Constitution Day of India is to spread the importance of the Indian Constitution, and to spread awareness about its architect, Dr B R Ambedkar. It will raise the awareness in people about the constitution which defines the basic rights and basic duties, of citizens as well as government.
The day is celebrated to value and preserve the rich heritage of composite culture, to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform, to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all countrymen, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
The day was earlier commemorated as National Law Day, after a resolution by the Supreme Court Bar Association, a lawyers’ body, in 1979.
Why Constitution Day?
The previous generations fought the struggle for independence and they were imbibed with the spirit of freedom, fighting for rights etc. The new generation, particularly born after 1991 when the liberal policies took place, many of them are not aware as much as the previous generation was about the importance of freedom and price that was paid. So now imbibing the same spirit in them and making them aware of the ideals followed by the constitution, Constitution day is celebrated.
PM Modi wanted that young people should understand about the constitution and know about both the rights and duties. Therefore the main focus on this day is on school, colleges, with seminars, quiz competitions, essays, lectures being organised.
This way it becomes important day for constitution because India is a democracy and in a democratic set up, the people should know their rights and duties.
In hierarchy of law, constitution comes first, then laws made by parliament, then state laws and then laws made by administrative wings of government and various rules and regulations.
A person who has faith in the Indian constitution and the government created under the constitution is patriotic and the person who wants to disintegrate the constitution or constitutional institution is unpatriotic.
Constitution of India
The Constitution is a core legal document which lists out fundamental rights of citizens, their duties, role of the government, interaction between the government and its citizens, powers of the prime minister, president, governor and chief minister and defines how the federal structure of the country will be maintained.
Indian constitution is one of the most elaborate constitution prepared with great consideration and prepared by taking all good things from different constitution so as to strengthen democratic institution.
In constitution, fundamental rights and duties become very important aspect of Indian constitution. They are basically obligation of state to its citizens and duties of the citizens towards the state.
Fundamental Rights include guarantee to civil rights, civil liberties such as all Indians can live their life in peace and harmony as citizens of India, have individual rights such as equality before law, freedom of speech and expression, religious and cultural freedom, peaceful assembly, freedom to practice religion etc.
When there are minorities- whether religion, linguistic or thought-wise, they are to be protected. Constitutional protection gives them the right to express within boundaries of law.
No other constitution in the world has spelt rights so clearly as constitution of India. They are the beacon which constitution provides against any abuse or power by government or government agency. Art 32 and Art 226 provide for protection of fundamental rights in the constitution.
Other countries, particularly India’s neighbours don’t have that kind of strong foundation. That’s why military and other forces rule and dominate their governance as well as citizen’s life. This is not possible in India because fundamental rights are preserved. Also, people are aware of their fundamental rights, especially in this scheme of government which they are going to promote further the rights and duties of people.
Fundamental Rights and Duties
Though there are three wings of government- legislature, executive and judiciary, but people are supreme. The preamble crystallises the ideals for which the freedom struggle was fought. It has been adopted in the name of ‘we the people of India’. So the sovereignty lies with the people. The ideals of preamble — justice, equality- social, economic and political, unity, integrity of the nation and democratic, secular, sovereignty — are fundamental in nature.
From 1974 till today, the Kesavananda Bharati case remains the most important case. In this case, SC interpreted that there are certain basic features of the constitution which cannot be taken away by the parliament.
Fundamental rights are included in Part III of the constitution which can be enforced in court of law. It includes rights such as freedom of speech and expression, right to live with human dignity, right to equality, and right of freedom of religion among major fundamental rights.
Part IV has Directive Principles which may not be enforced but are fundamental guidelines for the governance of the country.
Gradually through interpretation, SC has included those Directive Principles as Fundamental Rights such as right to education, right to healthy environment.
However, apart from rights, there are certain duties also which every citizen has to observe and enforce. Rights and duties are interlinked
Duties are also one of the important aspect of the constitution which were added in 1978. In duties, one is respect for different point of views. Anyone who creates hostile environment for different communities has to be discouraged. There is scientific temper which says Indians must have an open mind to learn new things. Pursuit of excellence is also one of the duties. Every citizen will make endeavour to achieve higher level of excellence respect the symbols of the institutions- the national flag and the national anthem. These are the fundamental aspect in any civilised society.
To uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India is one of the most relevant duties of the current times. It shouldn’t be put to threat either by freedom of expression or action or speech. Hence, there have been reasonable restriction for the fundamental rights.
In a progressive step, Swachh bharat should be made part of duties of citizens of India together with promoting Swadeshi- Make in India as a fundamental duty.
Connecting the dots:
Mention the significance of fundamental rights and fundamental duties in life of citizen of India.