Withstanding the test of time - The Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution just celebrated its 65th birthday yesterday. I thought its an apt time to pen down some thoughts on it on this befitting occasion. I have been a student and now a teacher of Political Science, talking to my students about the Indian Constitution. It is the most fascinating topic of discussion for any student of politics. In fact, as students of Political Science we by default become the students of the Indian Constitution. Though, I have to admit that I have not been able to read the Indian Constitution in its entirety and still continue to refer to it in bits and pieces.

Our Constitution has been one of the finest crafted documents in the democratic, politico-legal history of the world. It is a lengthy document, bulky for that matter and consists of numerous article and provisions. Without going into too much detail, our constitution was a visionary document, incorporating the aspirations of the people of India after a long drawn freedom struggle. The process of its creation began at a very difficult time in the history of this country. On the one hand, we were rejoicing our newly attained freedom, whereas on the other the country was engulfed by the bloody violence accompanying the partition of India. This was surely challenging for the makers of our constitution since as lot was being expected from them. It is in these trying circumstances under much pressure that the Indian Constitution was born and till date it continues to accommodate the aspirations of its country men and women. The foresight of our constitution makers who demonstrated the unique ability to not entirely lift any provision from other constitutions, but take inspiration in the right manner shows the kind of deep engagement that they underwent while framing it. The riches source of our constitution are the debates in the Constituent Assembly (now available in e-versions also). The commitment reflected by our leaders, their passion and the way they toiled hard is visible in the finer details of our Constitution. It was their gift to the people of India - a sovereign, democratic Republic.

Our Constitution has been both rigid and flexible at the same time. It has adjusted with finesse to political circumstances, arrangements and even to practical politics with time. It envisaged equality before law, freedom, rights and a secular polity even before the nation was to gain independence. It is infact with the Constitution that India took birth and attained nationhood in a true sense. Even though political dynamics and upheavals in the country have tried to manipulate with the Constitution, it has resisted parochial change and has continued to advocate for farsightedness. When I look at the Constitution today, I wonder how such a document was created 65 years ago, when the nation was just born and its leaders had no grounding in 'realpolitik'. It was their passion for governance and democracy that led them to create this wonder document. The best thing about it is that its openness to criticism and change. We have a provision of amending the Constitution to suit contemporary political realities. It has also not succumbed to the play of politics in this country, its spirit has been kept alive by constant changes and modifications to it without impacting its basis character.

The strength of this Constitution lies in the fact that it was witnessed many a turbulence but continues to showcase its strength even now. It is above and beyond the malpractices in political life for it is the rule of the land. It is an extremely progressive document wherein our leaders tried to give us the best of what was available, with an Indian understanding to it. I believe it is a must on the part of every Indian to read up the Constitution to realize what went behind its making.

Our constitution can be criticized but it cannot be condemned because it lays the foundation of a strong, federal Indian Republic. World democratic history is replete with examples of the best in constitutional practices and the Indian Constitution finds a place among the best. A stocktaking of our constitutional processes reveals the reasons behind Indian democracy going from strength to strength - it is our Constitution.

It has withstood the test of time with fervour and grace. It has accepted all challenges that came its way and attempted to provide a political response that best suited the occasion. It is and will remain one of the most precious gifts to Indian democracy and to the world. Let it flourish, let it flower and let it serve the very people for whom it was created. For this very reason, let us celebrate the Indian Constitution on 26th January and everyday that reminds us of the great democratic order we are a part of.

To the Indian Constitution - we promise we shall behold you, abide by you and honour you as our foremost duty as citizens of this country. Here is to celebrating our constitution today and everyday .... 

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