Monday, 17 November 2014

Rakesh Sinha Speaks on Constitution

Rakesh Sinha  16th November 2014 06:00 AM

The Constitution of a country is not a mere bundle of declarations and laws, procedures and percepts. It must also carry indigenous thought, feelings and sentiments through the legacy of the nation, connecting the people with the Constitution beyond fundamental rights and directive principles. This is more important in the context of the Indian Constitution because India is not merely a nation of a history of a couple of centuries. Its civilisational history spans thousands of years. The rich civilisation and vibrant culture we possess witnessed the decline of its political influence and concomitantly lost many things paving the way for the hegemony of Western civilisation. A grievous loss has been that of our chronology.
We believe in Yuga consciousness; time is interpreted with moral interpretations. For instance, Satyuga or Kaliyuga convey not merely chronology, but also the moral positioning of mind and humans. The advent of Biblical (hegemonic) chronology radically altered the parameters of judging history. Many historical realities were dismissed as mythology. It also influenced our thought process and perspectives of perceiving history, culture and civilisation. We are taught to view India from the Western understanding of things. This has led to severe distortions of Indian discourse.

While framing the Constitution, its fathers were conscious of the debilitating impact of such distortions and did try to correct it. They firmly believed that the Constitution must be organically linked to our ancestors, contributions and inspiring events. Therefore, they included more than two dozen sketches in our Constitution. The original Constitution was handwritten, perhaps by people from Rampur (then United Provinces) and was signed by members of the Constituent Assembly, and its draft was thus finalised. It carried sketches that form the narrative of our civilisational and cultural history. Ram and Lakshman returning from Lanka with Sita were skecthed; so too were Buddha and Mahavira. Indian rulers like Harshvardhan, Akbar, Tipu Sultan along with others too figured in it. Moreover, the descent of the Ganga on earth was depicted. Places that reminded of the glorious phases of our history and heritage, like Nalanda, Mahabalipuram and Harappa found place in it. Subhash Chandra Bose’s sketch was placed on the 22nd chapter of the Constitution. Mahatma Gandhi’s sketch with stick in hand was very much there. This was confirmed by Dr Rajendra Prasad. When a member of the Assembly wanted mention of Gandhi in the preface of the Constitution, Dr Prasad requested him to withdraw his suggestion as the voting would be an embarrassment for both the Congress and Gandhi. Since Gandhi’s sketch was present, there was no need to mention his name. The Vedas and Upanishadas too were sketched.

Imagine a Constitution with historical references, and our cultural and social historiography too depicted there. These sketches were made by Nandalal Bose, the person who was requested by Gandhi during the Congress’ 1936 Haripura session to make sketches of India’s people, culture and civilisation. Bose’s sketches too were placed in the pandal of that session.

Tragically, these sketches disappeared from the printed copy of the Constitution. This was perhaps done in a very conspiratorial manner. Nobody knows who did it. Even the Constituent Assembly remained oblivious to such a drastic step. Nehru was a dominant figure of his time and had prevailed upon the Congress. Was he behind this? Nobody can confirm or refute this.

This reduced our Constitution to a bundle of laws which we perceive merely in political and legal terms. There is no Bharat Mata, no cultural umbilical chord to connect the posterities to the great work of the fathers of the Indian Constitution. It reflects their hard work and concern but sadly, lacks any moral imperatives.

Rakesh Sinha is Hony. Director of India Policy Foundation


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