THE date January 26, 1950, marks the historic moment when India’s Constitution came into being. Independence Day is about India getting ‘Swaraj’, the freedom from colonial rule. Republic Day is about the transforming of Swaraj which means self-governance, into good governance. Self-governance in the real sense of the term, began when India adopted the Constitution and declared itself a Republic. The day witnesses the parades of Indian armed forces and the states and union territories of the country being represented by its varied traditional and cultural performances by their respective troupes. This day should be more than the celebration of a patriotic event. It should be a day reminding the need for introspection for all the individuals and institutions of the state.
The rise of a new India like the Phoenix had its foundations laid strong in the Constitution of India that was nourished with the essence of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. As we celebrate the occasion of 71st Republic Day today, we have lakhs of people who are the citizens of India on the streets raising their voice to protect their Constitution from the forces which are consistently undermining our constitutional values. Reading the preamble to our Constitution loud and open they are reminding themselves and others of the resolution that the constitutional makers and the people of this country had adopted after securing freedom from the forces of oppression.
This day should be a reminder to all about the struggle the people of this nation went through and the sacrifices made in becoming a Republic and free from the colonial powers.
Quoting Dr B R Ambedkar, “I feel that the Constitution is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peacetime and in wartime. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile”. It is the duty of the government to serve the interest of the entire country without any discrimination.
In a historic speech delivered by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13 1946, when he moved the resolution on the aims and objects of the Constitution he reminded the makers of the Constitution and indirectly the people of soon-to-be-independent India to remember their responsibility not only as “inheritors of a great past”, but also as “trustees of the future”. He said, “We, who have this task of Constitution-making, have to think of the tremendous task of the present and the greater prospect of the future and not get lost in seeking small gains for this group or that”.Pandit Nehru added, “The eyes of our entire past – the 5,000 years of India’s history – are upon us. Our past is witness to what we are doing and though the future is still unborn, the future too somehow looks at us.”
The present ruling government has to realise that it is accountable to the people of this nation for each and every action of theirs. And it is their duty to uphold the constitutional values and principles enshrined in the Constitution.
The most distinct feature of India amongst other nations is the diversity within its territory and the oneness amongst its people. The core ethos of India has been the fundamental unity, tolerance and even synthesis of religion. It is an indubitable fact that hundreds of millions of Indians belonging to diverse religions lived in comity through the ages, marred through at times by religion revolts, economic exploitation and social suppression. And today a section of the people who are not agreeing with the government’s actions are being stripped of their fundamental rights with brute forces. It is, thus, a need of the hour to protect and preserve the secular fabric of the country and the Constitution. And it is the people who have to stand to defend themselves and the nation at large against the government taking an autocratic form.
Today the people and the institutions of this country need to be self-conscious and know whether they are acting in accordance to the sacrosanct guide or not. Our ideological differences have to be kept aside and aim to achieve collective happiness of the people in harmony for a better India, the India which she has been known for.
(Fathima is a fifth-year law student at SDM Law College Mangalore)