60th ANNIVERSARY of INDIAN PARLIAMENT
On May 13, the 60th Anniversary of the Parliament of India was commemorated. “We the people of India” enacted, adopted and gave it ourselves the constitution on November 25, 1949. The constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950. The Day is observed as the Republic Day. Under the new constitution, elections to the Lok Sabha were held and the first Lok Sabha was constituted in April, 1952. The first meeting of the Lok Sabha was held on May 13, 1952. Over the long 60 years, India is the largest democracy in the world representing 1.2 billion people with more than 700 million voters. It is not a small achievement. It is gratifying to note that India is on the rails. The credit for the success goes to the people of India as Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar in her address to the Special session of the Lok Sabha on May 13, 2012 rightly said “Simple and neglected people who work every day for survival also take part in the elections with great fervor. The faith of such faceless Indians is the reason for the success of our democracy.”
I watched the televised proceedings of the special sessions of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on May 13. The writ of the fore-thought and wisdom of the framers of the constitution particularly of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was running deep in the speeches of all prominent MPs. Speaker Meira Kumar took the lead and said “It is an irrefutable truth that democracy and caste system cannot go hand in hand. Democracy is based on equality while caste system on differences between socially inferior and superior. One of the two systems has to die. Today when we are collectively glorifying democracy with full zeal, we should also root out caste system with all the might at our command.” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley described social justice as one of biggest challenges faced by the Indian democracy as parliament celebrated its 60th anniversary. BSP leader Maywati and others like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav also spoke about the social justice and the under privileged. Sharad Yadav, referring to the often raised call for ending reservations, said that those coming up with the demand would have to justify the continuance of caste superiority. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of the BJP L.al Krishan Advani spoke about tolerance and disagreement etc. which is the very essence of democracy. These sentiments found resonance across the political spectrum in the two houses of parliament.
I was reminded of the last speech of Dr. Ambedkar I the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 before the constitution was finally passed and adopted. His tone was jubilant yet somber and reflective. The warnings he gave - place peaceful political protest in democracy, hero- worship or blind following of charismatic leaders and poltical democracy to become social and economic one retain their relevance perhaps more today than in 1949. Ambedkar advised to abandon bloody methods of revolution and hold fast to constitutional methods. He pleaded to observe caution and quoted Johan Stuart Mill not ‘to lay lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man or to trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions.’ Ambedkar asserted “Bhakti in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.” Ambedkar added in his historic speech that we must not be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Ambedkar asked “What does social democracy mean?” and answered himself “It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as principles of life. These were the reflections made by the architect of the Indian constitution which found mention in one way or the other in the special session of the parliament on May 13. Let me conclude with a poetic parlance of Allamah Iqbal to the thoughts of Ambedkar which got sprinkled in the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Indian Parliament:
उडाए कुछ बरक लाला ने कुछ नर्गिस ने कुछ गुल ने;
चमन में हर तरफ बिखरी हुई है दास्ताँ मेरी !
उड़ाई कुछ कुमारिअनो ने तुतिओं ने अन्द्लिवो ने;
चमन वालों ने मिलके लूट ली तर्जे फुग्हन मेरी !