Written by – Ashwin Jangam
Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them. ~Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Every year on 26 January, we celebrate Constitution Day, also known as Samvidhan Divas, in India in honor of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Architect of the Indian constitution.
Constitution Drafting Committee
India obtained independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as Head of State and the Earl of Mountbatten as its Governor-General. The country, though, did not yet had a constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act of 1935. On 29 August 1947, a resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly to appoint a Drafting Committee with seven members, including Dr. Ambedkar, for preparing a draft of the Constitution of independent India. It is said that when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel asked Sir Guor Jennings, an internationally-known constitutional expert of that time to draft the Constitution of India, he responded, “Why are you looking outside of India when you have within India an outstanding legal and constitutional expert in Dr. Ambedkar who ought to be entrusted with the role which you so badly need and which he so richly and rightly deserves?”
Then Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar was appointed the Chairman of the Drafting Committee on 28 August 1947 because of his educational qualifications and deep knowledge, great command of the English language, and expertise in articulating the subject. Other members of the Drafting Committee were N. Goipalswami, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyas, K.M. Munshi, Saijio Mola Saadulla, N. Madhava Rao and D.P. Khaitan.
The workload of drafting the Constitution of India fell entirely on Dr. Ambedkar and required his full effort and concentration. The other members of the Constitution Committee did not participate for various reasons. Some resigned, some were in ill health, some were busy with political work in their respective States, some were traveling abroad, and so on. It is generally agreed that Dr. Ambedkar was the sole author of the Constitution of India. We Indians owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar for such a perfect Constitution which is still in effect after 60 years of Indian Independence.
In his self-evaluation of his work, Dr. Ambedkar told the Assembly, “I do not want to say how good or bad is the Constitution. I feel that it is as much good as bad. It will be bad in the end when the ruling people/party are bad. It will be good in the end when the ruling people/party are good.”
The Constitution of any country is the basic, fundamental and first law of the country. All other laws of the country are derived within the framework of the Constitution. The Constitution must specify the organs of government, define the concepts of both popular and legal sovereignty, describe the means of its framing and the sources of its terms, and enumerate the fundamental rights of the people it would govern.
The Indian democracy has 4 pillars: the Legislature to make, amend and repeal the laws; the Executive to implement, execute and administer the laws; the Judiciary to interpret and enforce the laws and to administer justice; and the Media to inform the people about the working of their government.
Manabendra Nath Roy had proposed the formation of a Constituent Assembly in 1934. This idea was mandated by the Indian National Congress in 1935 and accepted in August 1940. However, Dr. Ambedkar was against the proposals. He said, “I must state that I am wholly opposed to the proposals for a Constituent Assembly. It is absolutely superfluous. I regard it as a most dangerous project which may lead this country to a civil war. I do not see why a Constituent Assembly is at all necessary. It is quite obvious that the proposals for a Constituent Assembly are intended to win over the Congress. How do the proposals deal with the depressed classes? To put it briefly, they are bound to hand it over to the Hindu Castes. They offer the depressed classes nothing, stone instead of bread. The Constituent Assembly is nothing short of a betrayal of the depressed classes.”
Dr. Ambedkar’s election to the Constituent Assembly has been the most shocking and surprising event in the political history of India, At a time when Congress and Mr.Gandhi did not leave a single seat vacant for the Ambedkar to get elected at that time people of Bengal urged Dr.Ambedkar to contest the Constituent Assembly elections from Bengal. Muslim League person who was supposed to get elected left his place for Babasaheb Ambedkar to contest and get elected. People of Namoshudra jati voted for Babasaheb and Mahapran Jogendranath Mandal campaigned for Babasaheb. This is how Basaheb got elected to the Constituent Assembly by stepping and crushing the strong opposition from Gandhi and Congress. This was possible for Babasaheb due to 26 years of struggle to create nationwide, countrywide agitation across India.
Mr. Churchill and Viscount Simon. Mr. Churchill observed that the Assembly, as it was meeting then, represented “only one major community in India”. Viscount Simon was more specific and referred to the Assembly as “a body of Hindus”. He went on further to ask “whether this meeting of Caste Hindus at Delhi can be regarded by the Government as the Constituent Assembly they meant at all”.
Dr. Ambedkar opposed and pressure from Britishers Congress given following membership to other religion people.Out of a total of 926 Members who were to take part in the preliminary session, 210 Members attended. These 210 Members consisted of 155 Hindus out of a total of 160, 30 Scheduled Caste representatives out of a total of 33, all the 5 Sikhs, 5 Indian Christians out of a total of 7, all the 5 representatives of Backward Tribes, all 3 Anglo-Indians, all 3 Parsis and 4 Muslims out of 80.
Two hundred seven members, including nine women, attended the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly in Constitution Hall on 9 December 1946. Honorable Members sat on green mats in concentric semi-circular rows facing the Presidential dais. Desks which could be warmed electrically were placed on sloping green-carpeted terraces. Those who occupied the front row were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Smt. Sarojini Naidu, Shri Hare-Krishna Mahatab, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, Shri C. Rajagopalachari and Shri M. Asaf Ali. All members of the Constituent Assembly accepted a Resolution of Objectives, on the basis of which Dr. Ambedkar was authorized to prepare the first draft of the Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly inaugural session started at 11AM with the introduction of Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the temporary Chairman of the Assembly. Dr. Sachdhidananda Sinha was the first President of the Constituent Assembly. All-India Radio of Delhi broadcast a composite sound picture of the entire proceedings. All over the world, countries sent goodwill messages to India for the framing of the Constitution, and it was read by Mr. Sinha. After the Chairman’s inaugural address and the nomination of a Deputy Chairman, the members were formally requested to present their credentials. The First Day’s proceedings ended after all the 207 members present submitted their credentials and signed the Register. After the partition of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly.
Difficulty of Writing the Constitution of India
In India, caste discrimination is enforced by a caste system that is practiced in the name of God. It is difficult to make a Constitution for a people who believe in such a corrupt god, but Dr. Ambedkar did it. He wrote the Constitution based on Buddhism. Gautama Buddha was the first person in the history of mankind who has given the message of Love, Compassion, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Justice. Dr Ambedkar is called the Architect of India because he broke the caste system in the Constitution and gave equal rights to all Indians.
The Constitution Drafting Committee meetings lasted 114 days. Dr. Ambedkar worked on his draft for an additional two years, 11 months, and 18 days. He incurred 63 lakh, 96 thousand, 729 rupees in direct expenses. He responded to a total of 7635 notices regarding the framing of the Constitution. It was not easy to write the Constitution in a way that took into account the many religious groups so that all of the people would agree on the rules and laws. Dr. Ambedkar studied the minds and religions of all Indians. He was a visionary who wrote a Constitution that continues to serve us all beautifully even after 60 years.
Abuse of the Constitution
Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar was very sensitive and aware about the rights of minorities and backward people of this country. The Indian Constitution is based on “Justice, Equality and Fraternity.” The opening words of the Constitution of India are “We the People of India.” In a speech delivered in Siddharth College Bombay, Dr. Ambedkar said, “The idea of making a gift of fundamental rights to every individual is no doubt very laudable. The question is how to make them effective.” The prevalent view is that once the rights are enacted in law, then they are safeguarded. But as experience has proven, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of the society. Conscience is the only safeguard of all rights.
Why do we see only Brahmins at higher posts in all Departments in all corners of India: Supreme Court, high courts, theater/cinema, IT firms and even in parliament? You can easily find the Brahmin at higher levels in all sectors. Why is this happening when the Constitution has guaranteed equality for all religions, castes, creeds and races of people? Why is there no growth in inclusiveness in this country? Why, after equality was granted in the Constitution, is there inequality everywhere?
Our Indian Constitution promises the Indian people that our society and Nation is based on Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice. The people who comprised the Constituent Assembly came from different religions and belief systems. The promises given in the Constitution were given in common to all the people. Even the oppressed classes and people who were poor accepted and believed that change would come through the Constitution.
When the Constitution was ratified on 26 January 1950, it was announced that independent India would be governed on the basis of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice. This was meant to give relief to the poor who were oppressed and abandoned by the higher castes. They were happy that soon their good days would come. These things were meant to give happiness to people of all religions of India.
In 1952, India held its first Parliamentary election, and all four pillars were captured by the Brahmins. Forty-seven percent of those elected to Parliament were Brahmins. The Indian independence movement was not meant to deliver the Parliament of India to the Brahmins. The four pillars of society were not fairly won – they were captured. Sixty percent of the ballots had been given to three percent of the people by Jawaharlal Nehru. So when we say we want to save our Constitution, we mean that there is a plan in place that is working to destroy our Constitution. Many people do not understand this conspiracy. If there were not a conspiracy, then there would be no need to talk about saving our Constitution. The people who are talking about making India a Hindu nation would give all rights to Brahmins in the name of Hindu.
It is a painful thing to witness for those who framed the Constitution. None of them guessed this thing would happen. Nobody believed this thing could happen in independent India. But it did happen and has been happening and is still happening to this day.
Man of the Millennium
In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was conferred upon Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is the architect of the Indian Constitution. The new Constitution is the result because of his hard work. His name shall be written in golden letters in history. He is a legend. Dr. Ambedkar’s name will always be associated with the Constitution of India and the existence of India as a nation.”