Constitutional Convention: Emergence of New India (Last Edition)

Kaustav Ghosh

It all started here:- We have already discussed on the first and second edition of this article that how the constitution of some nation was formed in the constitutional convention held in their nation. From the definition to the history along with technicalities of the Constitutional convention has been already discussed. I have also mentioned the background behind constituting India’s Constituent Assembly. If you analyze carefully all the facts and the circumstances you will feel that all the elected member irrespective of ideological differences came together to form a constitution of a big nation- where language(even the accent of that language), religion, culture, food habbit, caste changes after crossing 20 miles or so. So many differences still they could unitedly completed this mammoth task. It took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to frame the constitution. If you read carefully the statements made by the then stalwarts elected and present in the Constituent Assembly, you can find how we have a constitution for which we cherish. Though Dr Ambedkar warned us-““However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However, bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good”.21

You may again question that why so many quotes in this article. It is because this article is incomplete without them, without their statement which reflects their dream to make this nation great. It reflects their dream to see India will lead in the future in every field. As one of the members who witnessed the whole constituent assembly debates wrote about our chief architect “His speech was so statesmanlike, so devoid of bitterness and so earnestly challenging that the whole of the Assembly listened to it in rapt silence. The speeches was greeted with tremendous ovation and he was smothered with congratulations in the lobby.”22 It was a huge challenge to frame a constitution of that country which was plundered, looted by British raj and had a severe economy. To make the supreme law of the land for the people who are driven by religious and racial differences, suffering from unhealthy environment, illiteracy, unemployment, famine, malnutrition, natural calamities, refugee crisis and many more, Dr Ambedkar was the perfect man who can meet the challenge and can turn the dream of the freedom fighters into reality. May be this is why I again want to quote Dr Ambedkar- “So far the ultimate goal is concerned, I think none of us need have any apprehensions. None of us need have any doubt. Our difficulty is not about the ultimate future. Our difficulty is how to make the heterogeneous mass that we have to-day take a decision in common and march on the way which leads us to unity. Our difficulty is not with regard to the ultimate, our difficulty is with regard to the beginning. It would be an act of greatest statesmanship for the majority party even to make a concession to the prejudices of the people who are not prepared to march together and it is for that, that I propose to make this appeal. Let us leave aside slogans, let us even make a concession to the prejudices of our opponents, bring them in, so that they may willingly join with us on marching upon that road, which as I said, if we walk long enough, much necessary lead us to unity….Let us prove by our conduct that if this Assembly has arrogated to itself governing powers it is prepared to exercise them with wisdom.” That is the only way by which we can carry with us all sections of the country. There is no other way that can lead us to unity.23

It all started here in the Constituent Assembly and aim was to constitute India into a ‘Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic“. Though the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ was incorporated later. Lets not forget that every word passed, spoken or unspoken, vetoed, outvoted in that august house is very important because today’s India started its journey from there. So to know the journey lets interpret the preamble and the comments to understand this journey.

Pt Jawharlal Nehru said-“Our republic shall include the whole of India.. We say that it is our firm and solemn resolve to have an Independent sovereign republic. India is- bound to be sovereign, it is bound to be independent and it, is bound to be a republic. I will not go into the arguments about monarchy and the rest, but obviously we cannot produce monarchy in India out of nothing. It is not there. If it is to be an independent and sovereign State, we are not going to have an external monarchy and we cannot have a research for some local monarchies. It must inevitably be a republic. Now, some friends have raised the question: “Why have you not put in the word “democratic” here. Well, I told them that it is conceivable, of course, that a republic may not be democratic but the whole of our past is witness to this fact that we stand for democratic institutions. Obviously we are aiming at democracy and nothing less than a democracy. What form of democracy, what shape it might take is another matter? The democracies of the present day, many of them in Europe and elsewhere, have played a great part in the world’s progress….We are not going just to copy, I hope, a certain democratic procedure or an institution of a so-called democratic country. We may improve upon it. In any event whatever system of Government. we may establish here must fit in with the temper of our people and be acceptable to them. We stand for democracy, It will be for this House to determine what shape to give to that democracy, the fullest democracy, I hope. The House will notice that in this Resolution, although we have not used the word ‘democratic’ because we thought it is obvious that the word ‘republic’ contains that word and we did not want to use unnecessary words and redundant words, but we have done something must more than using the word….

Others might take objection’ to this Resolution on the ground that we have not said that it should be a Socialist State. Well, I stand for Socialism and, I hope, India will stand for Socialism and that India will go towards the constitution of a Socialist State and I do believe that the whole world will have to go that way. What form of Socialism again is another matter for your considerations But the main thing is that in such a Resolution, if, in accordance with my own desire, I had put in, that we want a Socialist State, we would have put in something which may be agreeable to many and may not be agreeable to some and we wanted this Resolution not to be controversial in regard to such matters. Therefore we have laid down, not theoretical words and formulae, but rather the content of the thing we desire. This is important and I take it there can be no dispute about it. Some people have pointed out to me that our mentioning a republic may somewhat displease the Rulers of Indian States. It is possible that this may displease them. But I want to make it clear personally and the House knows. that I do not believe in the monarchical system anywhere, and that in the world today monarchy is a fast disappearing institution…

Well, Sir, we are going to make a constitution for India and it is obvious that what we are going to do in India, is going to have a powerful effect on the rest of the word, not only because a new free independent nation comes out into the arena of the world, but because of the very fact that India is such a country that by virtue, not only of her large size and population, but of her enormous resources and her ability to exploit those resources, she can immediately play an important and a vital part in world affairs. Even today, on the verge of freedom as we are today, India has begun to play an important part in world affairs. Therefore, it is right that the framers of our Constitution should always bear this larger international aspect in mind.”24 Sardar Ujjal Singh, notable politician from Punjab said-“Indian States have been used to the monarchical system of government and they may have some fears on that score but in the light of the speech of Pandit Nehruji those fears are entirely unjustified. In an Indian Republic the people of the Indian States, if they so choose can retain a monarchical form of government in their own part of the country.

Sarbapalley Radhakrishnan said-“Republic is a word which has disturbed some of the representatives of the states in this country. A Republican India does not mean the abolition of Princely rule. Princes may continue; Princes will be there so long as they make themselves constitutional so long as they make themselves responsible to the people of the States. If the great paramount power which is sovereign in this country by conquest is now transferring responsibility to the representatives of the people, it goes without saying that those who depend on that paramount power should do what the British have done. They must also transfer responsibility to the representatives of the people. We cannot say that the republican tradition is foreign to the genius of this country….Panini, Megasthenese, Kautilya referred to the Republics of the ancient India. Great Buddha belonged to the Republic of Kapilavastu.26

Dakshayani Velayudan, one of the nine members in the Constituent Assembly said:-“In the Indian Republic there will be no barriers based on caste or community. The Harijans will be safe in a Republican State of the Indian Union. I visualize that the underdogs will be the rulers of the Indian Republic. Our freedom can be obtained only from Indians and not from the British Government.”27

Purushottam Das Tandon, a freedom fighter and advocate for hindi language said-“The one important thing in the Resolution is the recognition of India as a free country. Our country is one and yet we shall give full freedom to its various sections to have for themselves whatever administration they liked. The present division of our country into provinces may change. We shall do justice to all communities and give them full freedom in their social and religious affairs.”28 He along with some other members in the constituent Assembly tried to make hindi as our national language, but it was opposed by the members from southern part of India and other non hindi part of this country. Govind Ballabh Pant made a speech that “we are not going to impose this language on non hindi people”. Language is a sensitive issue and this issue has not been solved till date in India. Pandit Hriday Nath Kunzru said- ““It is wise on our part to make every section of the people in India realise that we do not want to impose our will on any party or community, but that such decisions as we may arrive at will be the result of joint discussion carried on with the sole object of enabling India to achieve her independence and protecting the just rights of the minorities and the backward classes.”29

Conclusion-I have tried to touch every aspect to make it clear how it was started and how it is going. The role of constitutional convention has great significance because it decides not only the fate of that nation, but also it gives shape to a nation. Many jurists opined that Constitutional Convention is a medicine that can cure a disease that any medical practitioner cannot fix. In a Constitutional Convention, different ideologies meet together to fix the problem which is prevalent for hundreds of years and we know dialogue always find a way even when there is no way, no ray of hope can be seen. Constitutional convention of U.S.A, Canada, France and other European nations helped Indian constitution framers to build a constitution which aimed to ensure the people of this country JUSTICE social, economical 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 and integrity of the nation. Another important fact if not mentioned here will make this article incomplete. There are several conventions organized by U.N.O and other international organization; the principle which originated from that convention influenced the member states to make law which will meet the need of the time. For an example European Convention on Human Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights  are one of the foundation principle for adopting Fundamental rights and other humanitarian principle in the Constitution of India. At the conclusions I just want to say- “Constitution framers left certain matters to be governed by conventions, thereby giving to the holders of constitutional offices some degree of discretion in respect of such matters. Conventions lubricate the room left at the joints in the constitutional structure and protect them against ossification”.30


21)SECULAR, SOCIALIST & RELIGION IN INDIA – THE MISCONCEPTIONS. N.p.: Blue Rose Publishers, (n.d.). p-58

22)Ambedkar’s Preamble: A Secret History of the Constitution of India. N.p.: Penguin Random House India Private Limited, 2020.

23) ibid


25)Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India, 1946. India: Oxford University Press, 2007 p-239

26)The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents. India: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1966.

27)Towards Freedom: Documents on the Movement for Independence in India, 1946. India: Oxford University Press, 2007.

28)Journal of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies. India: Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies., 2000. p-211

29)Constituent Assembly Debates: Official Report. India: Lok Sabha, Secretariat, 1946, p-122

30)Commission on Centre-State Relations: Report. India: Government of India Press, 1988 p-545

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