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Indian Polity: Making of the Indian Constitution



The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the foundation of the democratic republic of India. It defines the structure, powers, and functions of the various organs of the government, and the rights and duties of the citizens. The Indian Constitution is also the longest written constitution in the world, with 395 articles, 22 parts, and 12 schedules. But how was this remarkable document created? What were the challenges and processes involved in framing the constitution of India? Here, we will explore the making of the Indian Constitution, and its significance for the UPSC Preparation.


Constituent Assembly


The Constituent Assembly was the body of elected representatives that drafted and adopted the Indian Constitution. The idea of a Constituent Assembly was first proposed by M. N. Roy, a revolutionary and a pioneer of the communist movement in India, in 1934. The demand for a Constituent Assembly was also raised by the Indian National Congress in 1935, and by the Muslim League in 1938. The British government finally agreed to the formation of a Constituent Assembly in 1946, after the end of the Second World War and the Cabinet Mission Plan.


Formation of the Constituent Assembly


The Constituent Assembly was formed in November 1946, based on the provincial elections of 1946. The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was 389, of which 296 were from the British Indian provinces, and 93 were from the princely states. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by indirect election, i.e., by the members of the provincial legislative assemblies. The Constituent Assembly was not based on the principle of one-person one-vote, but on the principle of communal representation. The seats were allocated to the three main communities - Muslims, Sikhs, and General (Hindus and others) - in proportion to their population in each province. The Constituent Assembly also had a fair representation of women, with 15 women members out of 389.


Proceeding of the Constituent Assembly


The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on December 9, 1946, in New Delhi. Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was the temporary president of the Constituent Assembly, as he was the oldest member. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting, as it demanded a separate Constituent Assembly for Pakistan. On December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the permanent president of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly appointed a number of committees to deal with various aspects of the constitution-making process. The most important committee was the Drafting Committee, which was chaired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, and consisted of six other members. The Drafting Committee prepared the first draft of the constitution, based on the reports of the other committees and the constitutional models of other countries.


The Constituent Assembly took almost three years to complete its historic task of drafting the constitution. During this period, the Constituent Assembly held 11 sessions, covering a total of 165 days. The Constituent Assembly faced many challenges and controversies, such as the partition of the country, the integration of the princely states, the linguistic reorganisation of the states, the fundamental rights and directive principles, the nature of the executive and the judiciary, and the federal and unitary features of the constitution. The Constituent Assembly also witnessed many debates and discussions, involving the participation of eminent leaders and experts, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, K. M. Munshi, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, and many others.


Objective Resolution


The Objective Resolution was a resolution that outlined the basic principles and aims of the constitution. It was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, on December 13, 1946, and was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947. The Objective Resolution declared India as an independent sovereign republic, and affirmed the commitment to justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity for all its citizens. It also recognized the diversity of the country, and the rights of the states and the minorities. The Objective Resolution served as the preamble of the constitution, and reflected the vision and aspirations of the founding fathers of the nation.


Important Personalities Related to Constituent Assembly


The Constituent Assembly was a galaxy of eminent personalities, who contributed to the making of the constitution with their wisdom, experience, and expertise. Some of the important personalities related to the Constituent Assembly are:


  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: He was the chairman of the Drafting Committee, and is widely regarded as the chief architect of the constitution. He was a jurist, economist, social reformer, and the leader of the Dalit community. He played a crucial role in drafting the provisions related to the fundamental rights, directive principles, social justice, and reservation for the backward classes.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru: He was the Prime Minister of India, and the leader of the Congress party. He moved the Objective Resolution, and also introduced the concepts of secularism, socialism, and scientific temper in the constitution. He was a visionary, a statesman, and a champion of democracy and freedom.

  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: He was the Deputy Prime Minister of India, and the Minister of Home Affairs. He was responsible for the integration of the princely states into the Indian Union, and the creation of the All India Services. He was a strong advocate of the federal system, and the unity and integrity of the nation.

  • Dr. Rajendra Prasad: He was the president of the Constituent Assembly, and later became the first President of India. He was a lawyer, a freedom fighter, and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He presided over the sessions of the Constituent Assembly, and guided the proceedings with his impartiality and dignity.

  • Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee: He was the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was a lawyer, an educationist, and a Minister of Industry and Supply. He opposed the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir, and demanded the abolition of the permit system for entering the state. He died under mysterious circumstances in Kashmir in 1953.

  • K. M. Munshi: He was a lawyer, a writer, and a Minister of Food and Agriculture. He was a member of the Drafting Committee, and the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, and Tribal and Excluded Areas. He was instrumental in drafting the provisions related to the cultural and educational rights, and the protection of monuments and places of national importance.

  • Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar: He was a lawyer, a jurist, and a member of the Drafting Committee. He was an expert in constitutional law, and advised the Drafting Committee on various legal and technical aspects of the constitution. He also drafted the provisions related to the judiciary, the emergency powers, and the amendment of the constitution.


Women Participation in Constituent Assembly


The Constituent Assembly had 15 women members out of 389, which was about 3.8% of the total strength. The women members of the Constituent Assembly were:


  • Sarojini Naidu: She was a poet, a freedom fighter, and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was known as the "Nightingale of India", and was the first Indian woman to preside over the Indian National Congress. She was also a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, and participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement.

  • Rajkumari Amrit Kaur: She was a social worker, a health activist, and the Minister of Health. She was the first woman to hold a cabinet rank in the Indian government. She was also a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and the founder of the All India Women's Conference. She played a key role in establishing the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and the Tuberculosis Association of India.

  • Hansa Mehta: She was an educationist, a journalist, and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. She was the vice-chancellor of the Baroda University, and the president of the All India Women's Conference. She was also instrumental in changing the phrase "all men are born free and equal" to "all human beings are born free and equal" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Durgabai Deshmukh: She was a lawyer, a social reformer, and a member of the Planning Commission. She was the founder of the Andhra Mahila Sabha, and the Central Social Welfare Board. She was also involved in the Salt Satyagraha, the Individual Satyagraha, and the Quit India Movement. She advocated for the rights of women, children, and the disabled.

  • Renuka Ray: She was a lawyer, a politician, and a member of the All India Women's Conference. She was the Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation in West Bengal, and the chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women. She was also a participant in the Non-Cooperation Movement


Previous Year Civil Service Questions:


  1. Discuss the significance of the Objective Resolution in shaping the Indian Constitution. (UPSC 2019)

  2. Examine the role of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the drafting of the Indian Constitution. (UPSC 2018)

  3. Evaluate the importance of women's participation in the Constituent Assembly in the making of the Indian Constitution. (UPSC 2017)


 

Q.) Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Fundamental Duties of the citizens of India?


  1. They are incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment.

  2. They are enforceable by the courts of law.

  3. They are applicable only to the citizens and not to the aliens. (a) 1 only (b) 1 and 3 only (c) 2 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3 Answer: (b) 1 and 3 only

Explanation:

The Fundamental Duties are incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976. They are not enforceable by the courts of law, but are expected to be followed by the citizens as a matter of moral obligation. They are applicable only to the citizens and not to the aliens


 

Q.) Consider the following statements about the Attorney General of India:


  1. He is appointed by the President of India.

  2. He must have the same qualifications as are required for a judge of the Supreme Court.

  3. He must be a member of either House of Parliament.

  4. He can be removed by impeachment by Parliament.


Which of the above statements are correct?


(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1, 2 and 3 only

(c) 2, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4


Answer: (a) 1 and 2 only

Explanation:

The Attorney General of India is appointed by the President of India. He must have the same qualifications as are required for a judge of the Supreme Court. He need not be a member of either House of Parliament. He can be removed by the President at any time


 

Q. Which of the following are envisaged by the Right against Exploitation in the Constitution of India?