Constituent Assembly of India
The Indian Constitution was drafted in tough circumstances. The creation of a constitution for a vast and diverse country such as India was not an easy task. At the time, the people of India were transitioning from subjects to citizens. The country was formed as a result of a religiously-based division. For the people of India and Pakistan, this was a horrific experience.
Our national movement was more than just a fight against foreign authorities. It was also a battle to revitalize our country and improve our society and politics. Within the freedom war, there were fierce disagreements regarding the course India should take after independence. Such distinctions exist even now. Motilal Nehru and eight other Congress leaders drafted a constitution for India as early as 1928. The resolution of the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress in 1931 focused on how independent India’s constitution should look. Both of these papers were committed to including universal adult franchise, the right to freedom and equality, and the protection of minorities rights in the constitution of independent India. As a result, several fundamental values were recognized by all leaders even before the Constituent Assembly assembled to debate the Constitution.
Years of thought and reflection on the constitution’s framework yielded another dividend. Our leaders got the confidence to learn from other countries on our terms. Many of our leaders were inspired by the principles of the French Revolution, parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom, and the Bill of Rights in the United States. Many Indians were inspired by Russia’s socialist revolution to envision a government based on social and economic equality. They were not, however, merely repeating what others had done. All of these considerations influenced the creation of our Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly
M.N. Roy suggested the concept of a constituent assembly for the first time in 1934. On the basis of the Cabinet plan, the actual Constituent Assembly was constituted in 1946. Initially, there were 389 members. After the partition, several of the members moved to Pakistan, reducing the number to 299. There were 229 nominations from British provinces and 70 from princely kingdoms. Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was chosen President, and Harendra Coomar Mookerjee was appointed Vice President. The constitutional advisor was BN Rau.
The Constituent Assembly was further divided into the Constituent Assembly of India and the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly, which drafted the Indian constitution, consisted of 299 members. The Constitution was adopted by the Assembly on November 26, 1949, although it went into effect on January 26, 1950. Every year on January 26th, we commemorate this day as Republic Day.
The Constitution reflects a broad consensus at the time. In several other countries, the Constitution exists only on paper. Nobody genuinely pays attention to it. Our Constitution has provided us with a unique experience. Several groups have questioned several articles of the Constitution over the previous half-century. However, no substantial social group or political party has ever called the Constitution’s legitimacy into question. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any constitution.
The Constituent Assembly was the voice of the people of India. At the time, there was no such thing as a universal adult franchise. As a result, the Constituent Assembly could not have been elected directly by the people of India. It was mostly elected by members of the existing Provincial legislature. Many Assembly members did not agree with Congress. Members of the Assembly came from many language groups, castes, classes, faiths, and occupations. Even if the Constituent Assembly had been elected through universal adult suffrage, its membership would not have been much different.
The Constituent Assembly worked in a methodical, open, and consensus-based manner. Some fundamental ideas were settled upon and agreed upon. Then, under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a Drafting Committee drafted a draught constitution for consideration. The Draft Constitution was exhaustively debated, clause by clause, over multiple rounds. During Constituent Assembly debates, the reasons for each provision of the Constitution are stated. These are used to interpret the Constitution’s meaning.
Criticism of the Constituent Assembly
- Because the members were not directly elected by the adult franchise, it was not a representative body. The leaders, on the other hand, had widespread popular support. Direct elections by the universal adult franchise would have been impractical at the time, when the country was on the verge of split and rife with communal violence.
- The constitution is supposed to have taken a lengthy time to draught. However, given the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the diverse and big Indian nation, this is understandable.
- Since it was established by the British, the constituent assembly was not a sovereign entity. It did, however, function as a totally independent and sovereign organization.
- The constitution’s wording was criticized for being literary and convoluted.
- The Congress Party held the majority in the assembly. However, the party naturally dominated provincial legislatures. It was also a varied party, with members from nearly every element of Indian society.
- The assembly was supposed to be dominated by Hindus. This was due to community proportional representation once again.
Question 1: Unlike South Africa, what advantages did Indian Constitution makers have?
The advantage was that they did not have to have an agreement on what a democratic India should look like because it formed mostly during the liberation war.
Question 2: What resolution was made in 1931, Karachi session?
The Indian National Congress met in Karachi in 1931 to discuss how an independent India’s constitution should be written.
Question 3: Why did the constitution take effect on January 26, 1950?
The constitution went into force on January 26, 1950, since the constitution’s authors wished to emphasize the date because Jawaharlal Nehru declared India’s Independence Day on January 26th.
Question 4: What is the unusual achievement of our constitution?
The extraordinary achievement is that no big social group or political party has ever questioned the constitution’s legitimacy.
Question 5: What are Constituent Assembly Debates?
Constituent Assembly Debates were created when every document given and every word spoken in the Constituent Assembly was recorded and archived.
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