By Vivek Pattanayak, Bhubaneswar, November 25, 2020: The Constituent Assembly adopted and enacted the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 and hence, this day is being observed as the constitution day in the country. In this context, it may be appropriate and relevant to understand and appreciate the basis of this organic law what is called constitutionalism in the domain of political science. It is nothing but a set of values, principles, ideas, and concepts based on which fundamental law is based.

The Preamble of the Constitution reflected constitutionalism when it highlighted on justice, social, economic, political, on equality of status and of opportunity and finally on fraternity and dignity of individual.

Fundamental rights, separation of power, federalism and internationalism inter alia demonstrate a few elements that constitute constitutionalism. Coincidentally, incorporation of fundamental rights in the Constitution took place when the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights .No wonder Article 51 of the Constitution envisaged the obligation of India to international law.

Affirmative action contained in the Constitution for advancement of SC, ST and SEBC, and women including reservation of seats for SC and ST in the legislative bodies and abolition of opprobrious practice of untouchability, and freedom of religion demonstrated endeavour to bring harmony and unity in diversities which constitute fundamental pre-requisite for creation of a nation when disparate elements come together to form a new nation State. Gandhi was unequivocal when he asserted if the rule in India would what majority wants it is not full Swaraj keeping in picture that the fledgling nation embraced numerous minorities based on religion, language, and ethnic origin.

The Directive Principles of State Policy envisaged minimizing of inequalities in status and opportunities among the groups of people. Ambedkar had said “to leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of society, untouched….is to make farce out of constitution and build a palace on dung heap”. Ambedkar held the view that constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It must be cultivated. He had cautioned that “Democracy in India is only a top dressing of a society which is inherently undemocratic” with the newly freed country having inherited plethora of princely states, archaic zamindary system and iniquitous hierarchal caste structure.

Article 1 of the Constitution explicitly stated that India that is Bharat shall be a Union of States. It did not use any other word except India and Bharat. This is significant. Second, it unequivocally gave federal character to the country recognizing existence of different provinces, princely states, and separate units of administration due to several historic factors on the eve of independence. No wonder the Constitution provided for special provisions in Part XXI for J&K, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa recognizing the diversity, historical background, and special situation.

Vastness of the geography could be tackled only through decentralization of power. Hence creation of Panchayat was conceived, which subsequently got fortified in the constitution after 74the amendment in 1993.

Separation of power was the hallmark in the Constitution with the independent judiciary in order that the rights given in the Constitution and structure created are not violated and upset dissolving the binding elements of nationhood.

All these demonstrated constitutionalism with the object of having strong and robust base for building a new nation and a durable environment for democratic society. Time has perhaps come to remember, recollect, reflect, and then review to what extent we have defended, protected, and preserved constitutionalism.

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