Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I have actually never seen us celebrate our Constitution

Kalachakra Saturday, January 26, 2008 Happy Republic Day Shruti Rajagopalan
Happy Republic Day. This is a rather emotional holiday for me, so I shall meander on with some of the thoughts I feel virtually every year on this day. A couple of years ago I heard a lecture by Randy Barnett, who was talking about his book The Lost Constitution, a most wonderful read. Barnett asked us to imagine a psychopath who breaks into the National Archives Building and starts destroying the original US Constitution by tearing the document apart. This would be unacceptable. Patriots may even ask for the highest possible punishment for this man. And yet this is what the honorable judges of SCOTUS do each day, and get away with. He went on to explain how the judges have misinterpreted the US Constitution and virtually forgotten some of the original document.
On Republic Day, I feel much of the same sentiment. We have an Executive, which takes such tremendous trouble to organize a parade, put on the best show to showcase emerging India, show off the latest in its military strength and everything that is supposedly patriotic. The same people who also uphold the flag and other such symbols and create a racket when someone wears a tri-colored underwear. But the original intent of the Republic Day was to celebrate the fact that we are a Republic. That we have a Constitution. That it is the sacred law of the land. That it must be preserved. Because this document preserves and guarantees the very rights and freedoms that we enjoy, even those actions which we use to destroy the Constitution.
I have actually never seen us celebrate our Constitution. Instead of understanding the text and meaning behind it, we elect governments who appoint committees to check if the Constitution is compatible with the current bureaucracy. Instead of seeing whether the current system is in conformity with what the Constitution lays down. We have a legislature which has made every attempt possible to change the Constitution when it was inconvenient. The deletion of Right to Property under Article 19 and Article 31 are excellent examples. An even better example of subverting the Constitution is the Ninth Schedule. Anything that was feared to be declared unconstitutional by the judiciary could be included in the Ninth Schedule; which was part of the Constitution. This is perhaps the biggest legal absurdity!
An excellent example of imputing new values which never existed in the Constitution is by including the word Socialism in the preamble and justifying every rent seeking and partisan legislation under that ideological label. The Preamble to the Indian Constitution was inspired by the American Constitution and begins with “We the People of India….” The purpose of the Preamble is to clarify the source of the Constitution, the sanction behind the Constitution and the goals of the people who wrote and sanctioned it. Most importantly the Preamble lays out the basic type of government and polity which is established in the country through the Constitution. So it seems logical that the Preamble is sacred and should not be touched as it changes the nature of the nation the founding fathers hoped to build. Just as the Constitution is sacred.
In India, the Supreme Court declared the Preamble as part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution in 1973, which means it is outside the Parliaments power to amend the Constitution. But amend we did, and as early as 1976. The odd thing is that every person filing an application to stand for election must agree to uphold the values of the Constitution. This is thanks to Section 29A of the RPA Act which requires all political parties to include Socialism in their party mandate to align with the values in the Preamble and Constitution. This seems a bit odd, given that in the past every time the Constitution didn’t align with the Congress Party mandate, it was the Constitution that was amended. So under this absurd law, which by the way should be unconstitutional, we have every member elected to the legislature under an oath that he would uphold the Constitution. The very same legislature sometimes under super majority amends the Constitution, destroys its spirit, and justifies its own agenda by calling the Constitution outdated and irrelevant. I wonder what kind of society we choose to have when the basic rights and freedoms become “outdated”.
I would give most of the credit for this travesty to the Nehru Gandhi Family. Every member has systematically destroyed the Constitution, and is showing signs of producing more generations who shall carry on that tradition. They were all present today at the parade. Posted by Shruti Rajagopalan at 11:08 PM Labels: , , 2 comments:
Guruprasad said... hi shruti (whichever one this is! :) ) 'happy republic day to you too!' and thanks for a wonderful post. but i think any man-made document cannot stand the test of time and would have to undergo change to reflect the ethos of the current times. else the document becomes nothing but a set of dogmas that people are supposed to adhere to irrespective of relevance or meaning!i agree with you that some of the values embedded in our constitution (like our scriptures) are timeless and for them core of what defines humanity eg. love, freedom, and the choices change we must, if we have to evolve. but this change has to be brought about by the people. and the representatives of the people who do not have their warped personal or philosophical agendas that they want to thrust down the collective throat of the populace! 12:26 PM

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