“… SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC.”
That’s what the Preamble claims, in capital letters, in the Indian Constitution – the lengthiest, most rigorous and somewhat rigid constitution in the World.
Born on 26 January 1950, it commemorated what million other documents of its race had done before in diverse enclaves of space and time – heralding the independent and sovereign status (“Purna Swaraj”) of an infant democracy, and laying down the indigenous code that should direct the institutions of governance in the years to come, with expectations of success. Unfortunately in hindsight, it didn’t work out so well with India as it did for the other countries.
What went wrong with it?
Overambitious pre-cautious framers plagiarizing lines of Constitutions meant to work in A – Team Countries? Or too detailed a text to hit the hall rather than the ear or the practical world? Or the curse of the eternal tragedy of papers – neglect and the waste – paper bins?
The very opening welcome makes no sense to India, forget the entire Constitution. Because she is an uneducated (not illiterate) politically – blind and deaf nation who judge along lines of caste and religion. Because her roosters vote promises of temples and jhopras of alcohol, never government agendas or candidature capacities. A country, intricately religious, superstitious, prejudiced and poverty stricken – who is burdened with a modern working constitution by a minority of educated ‘radical’ elites during a chaotic era! A country that links politics with high – handedness, corruption and bribery and in most cases, misunderstood ‘isms’ and unintelligible terminology like “Nationalism”, “Protocol”, “Human Rights”, “Liberty”, “Democracy” and so forth. A country possessing little wisdom and care to decipher and fight for an ideal ‘coded’ condition. A country living in blissful ignorance …
Yes. That’s India to me.
Constitutions are designed for countries with citizenries who believe Law to be the supreme de facto rule in their lands. For citizens who have minds infiltrated with political education and awareness molded along civil principles, humanitarian ideals and common sense – for people who degrade religion and other segregated categories to mere subjective entities of community life and ethnic genesis. These features appear prominently in the West and indeed the very idea of a Constitution had its origins in this hinterland. The Indian Constitution is essentially composed along these western lines, particularly those of the colonial forefathers of India: it is derived from previous colonial legislation (Government of India Act 1858, Indian Councils Act 1861, Indian Councils Act 1892, Indian Councils Act 1909, Government of India Act 1919, Government of India Act 1935 and the Indian Independence Act 1947) and Western political documentation (the Constitutions of the USA, UK, USSR, Ireland, Japan, Weimer’s Republic, South Africa, France and Canada). So why is it surprising that it should comprise treason laws and seditious charges stinking of a very colonial (Let’s just say it out loud – “BRITISH”) essence?
And even if the British essence is overlooked – the Hindu essence is too glaring to be missed. A flag with the Chakra (wheel) of Dharma. A Government logo comprising of the four headed lions of the Ashokan stambhas (pillars). A “Vande Mataram” (nationalist slogan) of Hindu origin. And the tendency to worship the idea of an unparalleled ‘mulk’ – Hindustan. Tolerating the everyday portrayal of India in Hindu motifs and symbolism is acknowledging solely the “Golden” Hindu legacy and refuting in actuality the legacies of successive cultures that got merged into the greater canvas of the Indian civilization. Starting from the earliest ‘indigenous’ Hindu and ‘foreign’ socio – cultural elements to the latter day Islamic and British Cultures – the “Indian Culture”, which is proclaimed with such dignity and reverence, is authored in totality, from the brilliant hues imparted by these groups who wanted to make India their home. A mere acknowledgement and imparting of rights to them does not draw the conclusion of the duties of the Indian Constitution. A constitution claiming the unquestioned singular representation of a nation diversified in all possible means, should be transcendental and not exclusively partisan. Doesn’t this flaw make one nostalgic of the “Divide and Rule” policy of the British Raj? Doesn’t the Constitution remain as the bastion of this infamous colonial policy after 68 years of Independence?
However, one never condemns this Supreme very British document as non – national or anti – national. Why should he (Indian Patriarchy rules supreme!)? It was penned by Indians on independent Indian soil, with “Indianised” imported ideals; to impart an “Indian” identity, idea, unity and as well as belongingness to a free Indian citizenry. And somewhere in this process of compelled romanticized and devotional emphasis on “Indianess” – the disheartening reality, that the Indian Constitution is actually very ‘foreign’ and a hesitant yielder to the recognized Indian sentiments; fades into oblivion. Against this background can it be claimed that the Constitution is not national – that it is vehemently against the “integrity and sovereignty” of the Indian ‘State’?
Maybe. Maybe not.
What if the intelligentsia of today’s India is trying to live its terminologies in the very (Western) meaning they were conceived and adapted in the first place? Not in the concept of their corrupted Indian prototypes? What if they are attempting to materialize what the ‘far – sighted’ framers of the Constitution had envisioned – in desire, theory and practice? Possibly exhausted, by the juxtaposed reality of the true nature of the Constitution against the Indian tendency to be desirous of the far – fetched words of political philosophy sans their meaning, the modern waves of intellectualism and political awareness are trying to harness a change?
Maybe …. What if …. Possibly ….
DESPITE THE ATTEMPTS, WE LIVE IN BROKEN TIMES – WITHIN A BROKEN CONSTRUCT, WITH BROKEN IDEOLOGIES AND BROKEN HOPES. PERHAPS IT ISN’T THE TIME YET! EITHER OUR DAY HAS PASSED, OR IT IS YET TO ARRIVE OR IT WILL NEVER ARRIVE! ALL WE CAN DO IS HOPE AND WORK FOR THE BEST.
The very probability of a better future is denied to us.We have ravished the sacred law from its very inception – leaving an uncertain future to the mercy of a ‘possibility’ – a subjective reality in fickle and biased leaves and stuttering fragile ideals that is called the “Indian Constitution”. And hypocritically we have condemned political failures and crises’ as the inevitable lovechild of this ‘unexplained’ chaos of Constitutional Supremacy which India danced into in 1950.
Indeed, this is a misfortune carelessly unperceived.
And because every cloud has a silver lining – the Indian Constitution has one too!
It is amended, yes. Criticized, yes. Amidst being considered an unassailable, politically sacred. The never refuted. The timeless ….
DISCLAIMER – I am no political theorist nor is this article a researched one. This (overview) article is to be taken in its face value.