June 20, 2017:
Father of our Constitution, Dr. BR Ambedkar said in the constituent assembly in December 1946, “I know today we are divided politically, socially, and economically. We are a group of warring camps, and I may go even to the extent of confessing that I am probably one of the leaders of such a camp.”
Constitution was the solution to bind the divided India after Independence and our forefathers put their souls to give us the constitution which gives us liberty, equality and fraternity. The only thing they expected was to preserve it for the generations to come and here we stand, 70 years after Independence, trying with all our might to put their efforts in vain by disrespecting our constitutional ideals. From killing daughters to saving the superficial honour to forcing young scholars to commit suicide because of their caste, shows we failed to pay heed to the warnings of Dr BR Ambedkar when he handed over this Constitution to us.
His vision is at stake and to save it we need to understand it.
PREAMBLE: MIRROR OF HIS IDEALS
BR Ambedkar said,” It was indeed a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life and which cannot be divorced from each other: Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from the fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality cannot become a natural course of things.”
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: LINKING WITH PREAMBLE
The practicality to his three ideals stated in the preamble was given in the fundamental rights. Some of the rights reflecting his ideals are: “Right to Equality” from article 14 to 18 prohibiting all sorts of discrimination and equality before the law and “Right to Freedom from article 19 to 22 giving freedom of speech, expression and right to life and liberty.
But he also knew, these rights won’t help anyone unless some legal provisions are made to safeguard these. So came in the Article 32 which provides the right to all citizens of the country to approach the Supreme Court if their fundamental rights are being violated.
BR AMBEDKAR AND THE DOWNTRODDEN
The sole purpose of the Constitution was to unite Indians in a democracy. From his experience as an untouchable, Ambedkar knew that the first step to give justice to the idea of a constitution was to improve the conditions of the oppressed untouchables whose voices were unheard since ages and to give them opportunities to be at par with the so-called “high castes”. Besides fundamental rights, there was a need for special provisions for the “Dalits (untouchables)”. His proposal of Separate Electorates (wherein only an untouchable voter would have right to cast their vote for the untouchable candidate without the influence from the higher castes) was strongly resented and replaced by the reservation of seats known as “Policy of Inclusion”.
The other ignored sections of the society were women and he knew the progress of a nation is possible by the progress of women. He was touched by how women were used as objects, whose lives were controlled by their male counterparts. He said, “Let each girl who marries stand up to her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend, equal and refuse to be his slave.” He drafted the Hindu Code Bill sanctioning divorce and expanding property rights of widows and daughters. The strong opposition from the patriarchal Indian society didn’t let it pass and Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the post of Law Minister.
THE THREE WARNINGS
Though not able to include some provisions, his vision was noble and his contribution selfless. He gave us three warnings while handing over the world’s best constitution.
- Holding to “Constitutional Methods” for achieving the social and economic objectives
- Avoid hero worship regardless of how great or tall the leader is
- Not to be content with mere political democracy
The question that arises is that have we done justice to our constitution in 7 decades of Indian Independence? The answer lies around us where the citizens have turned a deaf ear to the warnings that came with it.
The recent “Jat Agitation” for the reservation, where people were taking law in their hands, destroying public property and raping women proves how we as a nation have failed to give respect to our Constitution. Abandoning constitutional methods, people are out there creating havoc.
ROHITH VEMULA SUICIDE
Coming to another warning, we have upheld the concept of “One Man One Vote and One Vote One Value” but do we consider “One Man One Value”? The answer is NO. Much to the fears of Dr. Ambedkar, we have sidelined social democracy. The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit Ph.D. scholar in the Hyderabad Central University, who blamed his birth as a “fatal accident” speaks volumes of the injustice in our society which failed to free itself from the clutches of casteism. This is not just one example of injustice. Every day, hundreds and thousands of atrocities are done against Dalits.
Ambedkar said, “Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics Bhakti or hero-worship, is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”. In the context of demonetization, is the government becoming a dictator? What was known as a step to eradicate black money, resulted in the deaths of innocent ones and the real black money with the big business houses is still in circulation.
If we want to our children to live in a nation our forefathers dreamt of, we need to take the onus of upholding our constitution.
– by Supreet Aneja of NewsGram.