Understanding the basis of the Indian Constitution

Socialism, Secularism, Democracy, Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the foundations of the Constitution and not merely words in the preamble.
The Constituent Assembly
The Constituent Assembly
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Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the Constitution of India, but seldom have we tried to delve into its origin, which dates much before November 26, 1949 when it was formally adopted. The foundation of our Constitution was laid down on December 13, 1946, well before India even got its independence.

The Constituent Assembly had a meeting chaired by Dr Rajendra Prasad in the Constitution Hall in New Delhi. During this meeting, Jawaharlal Nehru tabled a resolution, which was known as the ‘Objective Resolution’. The intention of this resolution was to set up guidelines for the Constitution and give a direction to the way the country would progress. The most important points of this Objective Resolution were:

> All power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government are derived from the people

> Shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality

> Adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes

This Objective Resolution was accepted by the Constituent Assembly and points mentioned in the resolution became the “Basic Principles of the Indian Constitution”. Socialism, Secularism, Democracy, Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the foundations of the Constitution and not merely words in the preamble.

The Constitution has been amended more than 100 times and yet these basic principles have not been compromised upon. Whenever they have been compromised, the Supreme Court has struck down such an amendment.

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Those who claim that the Indian Constitution was different before 1976 should be reminded that the spirit of the Constitution has remained the same since 1946, even before we achieved our independence and even before India, that is Bharat, was formed as a Union of States.

In today’s times, it is important for Indians to understand the basis of the Constitution, the intention of our forefathers in bringing up a diverse and yet harmonious society which can one day be a social structure that the world will admire.

The Constitution is a set of guidelines for the government of the country. A person can be religious in his personal life (the Constitution itself allows it) but while holding an official position in the Government in India, they cannot make policies based on their religious biases, so as to treat everyone equally.

This is the beauty of our Constitution, and we should all strive to ensure that it is maintained so.


This article was submitted as part of ‘Constitution awareness’ by the Government of Karnataka.

Darshan Mondkar is an author and activist.

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