A couple of days ago India celebrated its Constitution Day – the day when Indian Constitution was adopted by constituent assemble paving the way for becoming a Republic and for holding the first general elections of the country. India having gained Independence quite late in the timeline of many other democratic countries could take advantage of studying constitution of other countries. Indian constitution has taken inspiration from both American constitution and constitution of countries of European continent and many of its laws are based on what exists in these other constitutions.
Indian Constitution in its Preamble states the guiding principles on which the whole document was drafted, its 4 tenets being Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Indians have been debating these tenets and their implementation in reality very vociferously these days with the question of Liberty being in the forefront across all debates.
India has seen the banning of Salman Rushdie’s book and the fact that he cannot risk visiting India, MF Hussain’s works were vandalised, he had to flee India and could not even come back home in death, Shabana Azmi’s Water was banned for release in India, and the latest controversy around Padmavati with their actors and director being threatened, many States having already banned the film. No one Government at either Centre or States levels has been responsible; these illustrations span across many Governments over the years and there are many more such instances at local levels as well.
It is not just Freedom of Expression which has been curtailed in the name of hurting the sentiments of certain sections of society. But it is also been about whom to marry or love, what to wear, what to eat which is also being dictatated in the 68 years since these words were written. This brings us to Equality – where many of such restrictions are being forced on women, the society still treats women differently than men and they are subjected to harassment either physically or mentally not only at their work places but at homes as well, by the very people who are supposed to protect them. The recourse to Justice also is tough with the courts as well living in the past centuries atleast in their minds.
With such mindset all around us – in our families, in society, in polity, in legal systems as well as in the state machinery which is supposed to uphold the rights of the common man, how can the Constitution of India assure the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation (Fraternity)?