Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Constitution Day – November 26

The Constituent Assembly drafted, debated, enacted and finally
adopted the constitution of India on November 26, 1949. Government of India has thoughtfully decided to commemorate the adoption of the constitution and to honour its chief architect of, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the Constitution Day by devoting a two-day Special Session of the Parliament on November 26-27, 2015. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkiah Naidu, announcing the decision said, “Since we are celebrating the birth centenary of Ambedkarji, we have decided this. We will be discussing in parliament the commitment to the constitution and the contribution of Ambedkar to it.” It is a welcome initiative by the Government as it will not only provide an opportunity to the parliamentarians to commit themselves to the lofty ideals and underlying philosophy of equality, liberty and fraternity so laboriously enshrined in the constitution, but also educate the Indian youth to understand and follow the constitutional methods to conduct themselves to take India to further heights. The occasion will also be utilized to remember and pay homage to the memory of the father of the constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the greatest son of India, in commemoration of his 125th birth anniversary. There was a media report that CBSE has directed all schools and institutions to observe November 26 as the Constitution Day by hosting events to commemorate the constitution and the philosophy of its Preamble. It is an appreciative step which would tend to instill a sense of respect and regard for the constitution of India in the young minds. The decision of the Government would also tend to generate a much needed debate in the parliament and the country at large on the constitution and its philosophy of democracy, secularism, socialism based on the cardinal principles of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity in these days of increasing sense of hatred and strife both in the polity and society. According to media reports, the CPI (M) has endorsed the special session and demanded that Government should come prepared with legislation to extend the provisions of reservation to the private sector “for carrying on the unfinished agenda and vision of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the issue of social justice.”

Much water has flown in the Ganges after 68 years of
Independence. We have come a long way but yet to reach our goal which we set for ourselves in the constitution that is to transform India into a democratic, secular and socialist republic in which governance is based on the lofty ideals of equality, liberty and fraternity. Our secularism is under threat. It seems we are working on the assumption, show me the face or tell me the name and I will give and explain the meaning of secularism. It is not what our fore-fathers wanted. As regards, socialism, it is a far cry till date. A vast majority of our people are condemned to live below the poverty line. Income disparities are increasing among haves and have-nots. It was not what our fore-fathers desired. Coming to equality, liberty and fraternity enshrined so wisely in our constitution, we could not realize the magic of these three cardinal words and transform our political democracy into social and economic democracy as visualized by the father of the constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It seems a casteless society is yet far away.  I hope the parliamentarians, lifting themselves above the party lines, discuss these issues and rededicate themselves afresh in these two days, November 26-27, 2015, of the special session in the 125th anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar. It will be a befitting tribute to the memory of the great leader.

In spite of the fact that the underlying current in the country at the
time of independence in 1947 was against Dr. Ambedkar but, it seems, he was destined to make history by coming to the Constituent Assembly. With great opposition and difficulty, Dr. Ambedkar managed to get elected from Bengal, not from his home state Maharastra, with the help of Joginder Nath Mandal who later like Dr. Ambedkar became the first Law Minister of Pakistan. Dr. Ambedkar started his sterling contribution in the making of the Indian constitution. Later when the Congress Party and its leadership realized that it was Dr. Ambedkar alone who was capable to undertake the onerous task of drafting and piloting the constitution, he was helped to retain his seat in the Constituent Assembly from Maharastra. Dr. Ambedkar’s speech on the Objectives Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru set the tone of his mind and soul which he intended to devote to the job. Dr. Ambedkar said, “I know today we are divided politically, socially and economically. We are in warring camps and I am probably one of the leaders of a warring camp. But with all this I am convinced that, given time and circumstances, nothing in the world well prevent this country from becoming one, and, with all our castes and creeds, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that we shall in some form be a united people.”  Commenting on these developments, the biographer of Dr. Ambedkar, Dhananjay Keer wrote, “The sacrilege had become counsel, and the scoffer had become a friend who cast a spell on the Congressmen. Few speeches have given such a turn to the life of a speaker.” The rest is history. Dr. Ambedkar was made the Chairman of the Drafting Committee to draft, pilot and get passed by the constituent Assembly the new constitution of India. He undertook the job with great élan and completed it in a record time to usher India into the comity of civilized and dignified countries. The constitution was finally enacted and passed and adopted on November 26, 1949 which is today, November 26, 2015, celebrated by the Parliament of India to mark the 125th Anniversary of its Chief Architect, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The very opening sentence of the poetic Preamble of the constitution registers the caliber and intellect of its father and I quote, “We the people of India have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Democratic, Secular and Socialist Republic…” The destiny of India was sealed magnanimously.  Summing up the sentiments of the members of the constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of the Assembly, paid glowing tributes to Dr. Ambedkar and said, “Sitting in the Chair and watching the proceedings from day to day, I have realized as nobody could have, with what zeal and devotion the members of the Drafting Committee and especially its Chairman, Dr. Ambedkar, in spite of his indifferent health have worked (Cheers). We would never make a decision which was or could be ever so right as when we put him on the Drafting Committee and made him its Chairman. He has not only justified his selection but has added luster to the work which he has done.”

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar made a beautiful speech on November 25, 1949, the day before the Constituent Assembly formally finished its work. His tone was jubilant yet somber and reflective. He gave some warnings – place of popular protest in a democracy and termed unconstitutional methods as “Grammar of Anarchy”, the blind following of charismatic leaders and limitations of only political democracy and advised to transform the political democracy established by the constitution into social and economic democracy with delay. These, I think, retain their relevance, perhaps more, today than in 1949.

Greetings on the Constitution Day. Jai Bheem. Jai Bharat

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