The Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November 1949 and formally implemented from 26 January 1950. It’s been 66 years and is still serving India better than ever now.
Constitution of India comprises of 448 articles in 25 parts & 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 100 amendments. Originally our constitution had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules.
Countries have rewritten their constitutions to the suit changing ideas within society or even due to political changes. The Soviet Union did it four times (1918, 24, 26 and 77) before forming Russian Federation with new constitution in 1993. The French did it five times in last two centuries (1793, 1848, 1875, 1946 and 58). It doesn’t mean that our constitution never faced any challenges. Every challenge we faced was dealt with and came out as amendment.
The Indian Constitution, a document of immense political significance, is both complex and prone to tremendous incongruities. This demands that each of the state’s three limbs — Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary — indulge in an interpretive exercise. Because the Constitution, as an act of the people, lays down mandatory rules for governance, these incongruities are often at the forefront of the very functioning of the Indian democracy.
Under the Constitution, India is a federation consisting of a central government in New Delhi which controls the nation on the whole and the states which look after their affairs individually. Delhi, and six other small units are called union territories, because they are administered directly by the central government.
The Indian Constitution, like many others, contains a list of fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The constitution guarantees equal rights to all citizens, and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, caste (social class), religion, or place of birth.
It also includes two unusual features. There is a list of directive principles of state policy, which express ideals of social justice, equality, and welfare. For example, they urge the government to establish a minimum wage, provide education and jobs for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and improve public health.
The directive principles have no legal status and cannot be enforced by the courts, but they were intended to guide the government in policy-making. In 1976, the Parliament added to these a list of fundamental duties of the citizen, which include the duty to protect the natural environment and the cultural heritage of the country.
Most modern governments like India has constitutions based on a single document. In most democracies, the written constitution can be changed only by a special process, such as a special election. Such amending procedures reflect the belief that a constitution should deal with basic principles, and that special deliberation should be required to modify or replace these principles.
Indian constitution is the largest written constitution. It is based on secular democratic system and its powers are equally divided to center as well as states. Citizens of India have equal rights of freedom and equality. The special stress has been given on rights of equality, security, freedom and social justice for deprived classes.
Before law all citizens of India have equal rights and there is no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex, heredity, birth place etc. Right to freedom-consists right to freedom of speech, to make any useful organisation and association, to move freely in throughout country, to settle down in any part of country and right to choose any occupation. But the security, morality, prestige, and administrative system of the country should not be hammered by these rights.
Every citizen has right to protect his culture, language and script of origin. Minorities have right to opt the education of their liking in their own script and language. Minorities have also right to open educational institution of their likings. There is no freedom to state to run any education institution of any specific religion.
The Problems Faced By The Constituent Assembly In Making The Constitution:
The constituent assembly wasn’t a complete sovereign body as it was framed under British government’s “cabinet mission plan”. The members of the assembly were not free to take up decisions . They were regulated by British government. They had to take permissions from them in order to conduct meetings of assembly and other related issues. They had limits and complete authority wasn’t given to them.
After independence, assembly became a completely sovereign body.
The prominent problems faced by the assembly were:
1)How to frame a constitution that can satisfy a huge population of around 360 million people that too with distinct culture and heritage.
2)How to ensure democracy for all citizens of the country & what should be the limits of the democracy.
3)As the country had already witnessed communal violence during partition so the another main aim of the assembly members was how to design a constitution that can ensure the prevention of communal violence in future?
4)There was demand within the assembly to frame states on the basis of languages spoken, so a committee(jvp) was framed to look into this matter and committee decided not to go ahead with linguistic division(with the fear that this may led to Subnationalism) finally the assembly left the decision up to the future parliament.
5)The last challenge for assembly was how to integrate princely states as there were many princely states who were ready to sacrifice national interest for their personal gains.
Current Challenges In Constitution:
These are some of the major challenges faced by the Indian Constitution. Our constitution makers were very farsighted and provided many solutions for future situations, which is why India is performing well as a democracy.
- Difference in interpretation of constitution by the judiciary and the government
This misinterpretation often led to a prolonged judicial review petitions and again amendments by government to overrule the judgement. Especially during 1970s there was a lot disagreement between judiciary and legislature.
- Balance between fundamental rights and directive principles
It was always a debate as which of the above two is subordinates the other. Defining the status of Right to Property is a major challenge in this aspect and finally Right to Property was removed from fundamental rights and given a status of legal right.
- Stability of the governments
There were some occasions when the central governments would last only for days before dissolution due to lack of confidence. When it comes to state governments the frequency is very disturbing. Owing to enormity of costs of election this is a challenge yet to be solved.
- Relations between Center and States
This problem came into existence after the period of Nehru, when the regional parties formed government in states. The states want more autonomy. Many states published reports in this regard such as Rajamannar Committee, Anandpur Sahib Resolution, West Bengal Memorandum. Now with increased participation of states in policy making through Niti Aayog there is an attempt to satisfy the states.
- Internal Emergency
The internal emergency of 1975 was the most controversial period of independent India. The 38, 39 and 42 constitutional amendments made during this period sought to change many crucial parts of constitution and 44th amendment nullified most of them. Shah Commission was appointed to investigate and it leads to 44th amendment to introduce a number of safeguards against misuse of Emergency.
Constitution framed by our founding fathers is an achievement in itself and
the biggest evidence of their work is “survival of our constitution till now”(several other countries believed that Democracy in the country like India with so huge diversity won’t be able to survive for long and would fall to the dictatorship), but it’s our constitution that has made Democracy an inextricable part of our lives.