Monday, 16 January 2017

Proposed speech in Hindu College on the 19th
I have to speak on ' 67 years of the working of the Indian Constitution ' on 19th January at the Hindu College auditorium in Delhi at 2 p.m. It must be a serious, well thought out talk, so I thought of jotting down some points for my speech, and these are the ideas which have occurred to me ;
India became independent in August 1947, and promulgated a Constitution on 26th January, 1950. Within this period the Constituent Assembly met and deliberated..
Many of the Comstituent Assembly members like Jawaharlal Nehru were modern minded men. Nehru himself had spent many years in England ( studying in Harrow and Cambridge ) and had seen how British society and institutions functioned. Many others were lawyers in High Courts in India, which were patterned on the British High Court.
Under British rule, Indian society was largely feudal and backward, with the zamindari system prevalent in many parts of India. The British policy was not to allow india to become industrialized, because if it did, Indian industry could become a powerful rival to British industry. So the Britishers did not allow setting up heavy industries in India, but only allowed setting up some light industries like textiles and plantations, which too were initially under British ownership. India was kept largely as an agricultural country, and its people largely illiterate, feudal minded and backward.
Since our Founding Fathers were patriotic people, they decided to set up a modern Constitution, which they thought would pull up our backward society into the modern age. Hence they borrowed from Western Constitutions e.g. Parliamentary system of democracy, independent judiciary, non political bureucracy, etc from England, a Bill of Rights and federal system from the U.S. Constitution, etc.
In England, the modern institutions, e.g. Parliament, Cabinet system with a Prime Minister as its head, independent judiciary, etc and the modern principles, e.g. liberty, equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc were created only after arduous, historical struggles by the people in the 17th and 18th centuries.The Tudor sovereigns ( who ruled from 1485 to 1603 ) were absolute monarchs. It was only with the coming of the Stuarts on the death of Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1603 and the ascent of James 1 as King of England that the struggle between King and Parliament began, which culminated in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which established the sovereignty of Parliament. Thereafter, too, long struggles went on, which ultimately resulted in creation of a modern ( though unwritten ) Constitution, and modern principles in England.
Thus the modern Constitution and modern principles were a result of long historical struggles of the English people.
In India, on the other hand, the modern institutions and modern principles which our Founding Fathers set up in our Constitution were not a result of our own struggles, but were borrowed from the Western countries, and transplanted from above on our backward, feudal society.
No doubt the intention of our Founding Fathers was that a modern Constitution, with modern institutions ( e.g.a democratically elected Parliament, Cabinet system of govt., independent judiciary, etc ), and modern principles ( in Part 3 of the Constitution which laid down the Fundamental Rights ), would pull up our backward, feudal society into the modern age, which to some extent it indeed did.
But the problem was that our Constitution and our society did not correspond to each other. The Constitution was modern, while our society was backward ( unlike in England, America, etc where both were modern ).
The Constitution no doubt provided for democracy. But democracy is a feature of a modern industrial society, it is not a feature of a feudal society. The result in India has been ( as everyone knows ), that in most places people vote largely on the basis of caste and religion as vote banks, and do not see the merit of the candidate, whether he is a good man or not, whether he is educated or not, etc.. Was democracy meant to be run in this manner ? That is why there are so many persons with a criminal background in our legislatures.
Our national aim must be to destroy feudalism ( casteism, communalism, etc ) so as to make.India a modern, powerful industrial state with our people enjoying a high standard of living.
But our political leaders' aim is only to win the next elections, and for that they have to rely on caste and communal vote banks i.e. feudal forces. So, far from destroying feudalism they seek to perpetuate it.
So our national interest is diametrically opposite to the interest of our politicians. How can the country progress in this situation ?
We no doubt made some progress after independence. A heavy industrial base ( iron and steel plants etc ) was erected, girls started to go to school, the number of educational institutions( including technical institutions ) was greatly increased, etc.
But now our economy has become stagnant, rather it is in recession, while unemplyment has become massive ( for a single peon's or constable's post there are thousands of applications, many of the applicants being postgraduates or engineers ), besides other massive problems like lack of healthcare and good education for the masses, enormous child malnutrition ( about 50% of our children suffer from it ), lacs of farmers suicides ( as farming has become largely uneconomical due to the escalating cost of inputs ), price rise, corruption, etc.
President Franklin Roosevelt of America gave a speech in 1944 called ' The Second Bill of Rights ' ( it can be seen online and on Youtube ) in which he said that the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution ( which guarantees freedom of speech, equality, liberty, freedom of religion, etc ) has been found to be inadequate. What is the use of telling a poor and/or hungry man that he has liberty, equality and freedom of speech when what he wants is food and a job ? The latter becomes illusory. and hence there is need of a Second Bill of Rights guaranteeing to everyone a job with a good income, nutritious food, healthcare, good education, housusing, etc.
In the Indian Constitution no doubt the Directive Principles of State Policy mention these socio-economic rights, but Article 37 has specifically made them unenforceable. Hence they are only ornamental.
I submit that these socio-economic rights cannot be obtained within the framework of our present Constitution. The Constitution no doubt did some good, but now it has exhausted itself. The solutions to our basic and massive problems now lie outside the system---which means by a revolution

No comments:

Post a Comment