Sixty two years ago this month – on November 26, 1949 – the Constituent Assembly passed the draft of the Constitution of India. The draft itself was the outcome of over 100 years of Freedom Struggle and a confluence of diverse streams of political, social and economic thought that formed the idea of a free India.
Many of us were young at that time, may be at primary school. But despite the travails of the partition, migration of refugees across the divide and an immediate war on Kashmir, excitement over India coming out of bondage ran high. Tremendous challenges were ahead, but there was hope for the children of free India. This was mainly because India after Independence was led by great men like Jawaharlal Nehru – whose birthday falls on November 14 – Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, Dr B R Ambedkar, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and a galaxy of other men and women who thought of building a new India — secular, strong, independent and where, in Gandhiji’s words, the “lowliest and the lost” will live a life of dignity.
These men gave us the Constitution which underlined these values and provided for Parliament elected directly by the people, an independent judiciary to guarantee that the country will be governed by the Rule of Law, and an executive meant to be sensitive to the concerns of the common man. The country has moved forward since and can hold its head high, poised as it is to emerge as a major power of the 21st century.
But over the six decades, the country has also seen the decline in the values that were supposed to guide the new India. The institutions that were supposed to steer the nation in their respective spheres – Parliament, judiciary and the executive – have come under strain and call for remedial steps before it is too late.
The Indian Constitution is one of the noblest documents for ensuring democracy in such a diverse country. The shortcomings that have come to the fore are not of this great document made with care and vision, but us, we the lesser mortals, who are not able to use it the way it ought to have been. A special responsibility devolves on Parliament on this score and the MPs, irrespective of political dispensation, can help the Republic a great deal if they overcome petty quarrels and arrive at a consensus that hereafter this Parliament will lead the nation on to a great future.
– Central Hall, November issue, 2011