-THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION -
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
"THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION - VEHICLE OF SOCIAL CHANGE"
(Extract of article in "India - Perspectives" (August '97) by K.G. Joglekar. a noted Indian journalist.)
This site is sponsored by International Benevolent Services,which is dedicated to supporting leprosy sufferers, widows and orphans, along with other disabled and disadvantaged persons in India. We take pleasure in presenting the following article. After 31 years of service in India (and Bangladesh) we have fallen in love with "Hamare Pyare Bharat" - The Land of our Adoption - along with its national language, HINDI. In the early years, following Independence, we found a country that had been exploited by the colonial forces of occupation and, at that time, we could see little hope of India ever recovering. Agriculturally and economically, India had been devastated and we express our experiences of starvation conditions, in Bihar, M.P. and U.P., in our autobiography - "AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM", but, more particularly, in chapter eleven of the book. However, thanks to great leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi, India has come through that crisis to take its place among the world's leading nations. There is so much more information on India that we would like to share with you but we shall let K.G.Joglekar put it into words better than we could. Please enjoy the following . JAI HIND !
"THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA - 26th. January 1950
We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens :- JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity, and to promote among them all FRATERNITY, assuring the dignity of the individual and the Unity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
"Today, after India has completed 50 years of its existence as a free country, the question uppermost in the mind is as to how best has it lived up to the ideal cherished by the Mahatma? Also, how has it fared as an independent country? The latter query becomes pertinent since the whole world has been watching the Indian experience with keen interest. This is the case because of two reasons. First, because the newly independent nation opted for the democratic path to guide its affairs and destiny. And secondly, because it faced a mighty task of rebuilding and reshaping a country of continental proportions which had just emerged from two centuries of exploitive colonial rule.
The magnitude of the task could well be understood from India's inheritance. What the British had left behind, was a country afflicted by poverty, famine, illiteracy, a colonial agrarian system, disease and social malaise, such as untouchability, caste and communal divide. The legacy was also a fractured land, divided between India and the newly carved-out nation, Pakistan. The first and foremost task before the newly-independent country, therefore, was to rehabilitate the vast migrant population displaced from the territory which formed Pakistan. The trauma of partition over, India settled down to cope with the task of reconstruction. It was a daunting challenge. A sizeable economic decline had taken place in the decade preceding Independence. Per capita income had been stagnating during this period and per capita food consumption was falling. There was a complete absence of infrastructure. The industrial base was pitifully small.
Judged against this background, India's performance of the past half-century in key areas would appear creditable. For instance, the second most populous country on the world map is today feeding its 950 million people , without outside help, thanks to the Green Revolution and the tireless efforts of itsplanners, along with agriculturalists and scientists. Compare this with the pre-Independence scene. Barely four years before Independence, India had suffered a gigantic famine, known as "The Great Bengal Famine", in which around 3 million people perished. Although malnutrition does exist in many parts of India today, there have been no famines since 1947. Also, this half century was a period when people did not die as a result of epidemics, owing to sustained improvement in health services and a widespread health network. There has, besides, been a tremendous expansion of higher education India has also been able to create a pool of scientific and technological manpower which is among the largest in the world.
Noted author and journalist, Ved Mehta, has said that India "ranked next to the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union in its number of highly trained nuclear scientists". It may not be out of place to state that India is perhaps the only country outside the "Nuclear Club" to have successfully imploded a nuclear device way back in 1974. India also has built an impressive infrastructure, a formidable industrial base, a self-reliant economy, a defence set-up adequate to meet external challenges and a scientific and technological base of considerable proportions. Today, a large, self-confident entrepreneurial class has arisen in the country. It is a measure of the strength of its economy that it took recurring oil crises into its stride. It is true that many Indians still live in poverty; also true, however, is that there has been a rapid expansion of the middle class, thus exploding the myth that the poor have grown poorer and the rich, richer.
India's main achievement has been its capacity to sustain its democratic framework. In these last 50 years, it has lived up to its resolve, as expressed in the Preamble of the Constitution - "to constitute India into a sovereign, democratic republic". It is a tribute to its ancient traditions as well as to the foresight of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Azad and other stalwarts of the Freedom Movement that, unlike most developing countries, India is still a functioning democracy and a reasonably humane society where the rulers are accountable to the legislature. The press is free and unfettered and the judiciary fiercely independent. The Election Commission, an autonomous institution, ensures free, fair and impartial elections. After eleven general elections to Parliament and numerous State Legislatures, the people of India have come to acquire something of an expertise in the process of democratic decision-making, sometimes for continuity and sometimes for change. Indian elections, based on universal adult franchise, reflect the people's will, though instances of electoral malpractices and violence do come in from some areas. But these are not of the order so as to influence the people's free will. The Indian people may be poor, and a sizeable section illiterate , yet, through the use of the ballot, they have ended monopoly of power and brought down leaders who sought to fiddle with constitutional norms.
It may be worthwhile recalling at this juncture, that dark forecasts were made about the viability of India as an independent nation. It was feared that, in view of its regional diversities, India would soon break up, but this has not happened. According to an eminent economist, Amartya Sen, - "the so-called most dangerous decades have come and gone". There have been regional tensions and other pulls and pressures, but the social, cultural and economic bonds have proved to be too strong to snap. Says Sen, "I believe the historic basis of Indian unity, often underestimated by those who attribute to the innocent British, the creation of a sense of Indianess, which, in fact, has deeper roots. While various internal rearrangements such as revision of inter-state divisions, have occurred, the nation of nearly a billion people has survived remarkably intact".
The secular fabric of India also deserves attention. It is well known that people of different religious faiths have coexisted in India for centuries. "Sarva panth sambhav", or "Equal Respect for All Faiths", is part of India's civilisational consciousness. The founders of the Indian state made secularism the sheet anchor of India's unity. The Constitution calls India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. It may be mentioned here that differences of religion, ethnicity, caste and languages of the order that India has, do not exist anywhere else in the world. On top of it all, a traditional society and an economy frozen for hundreds of years, are being modernised. The result is a social and moral convulsion, perhaps unprecedented in the history of this land. But India has managed to contain this, by and large, within the framework of its constitution, laws and institutions.
It is well known that all through the Cold War era, India firmly pursued the Non-Aligned Movement and became one of its leading lights. Its stance on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), is an instance of its invulnerability in foreign affairs. If anything, India is being acknowledged as an emerging power in its own right. Liberalisation is unshackling its economy and letting loose creative energies of the people. Some sections of influential Western media have already forecast that India is the emerging "Asian Tiger". Seling Harrison, then senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, commented way back in 1989, that India has made remarkable advances over the years in developing its own industrial-military complex and in pursuing its defence-reliance. Not long ago, former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had remarked that India could not be ignored as a power in the international systems of tomorrow. How true". (Dinkar Shukla)
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