Chapter 2. Constitutional Design

Why do we need a Constitution?
• Constitution of a country is a set of written rules that are accepted by all people living together in a country.
• Constitution is supreme law that determines relationship among people living in a territory and relationship between people and government. It generates a degree of trust and coordination that is necessary for different kinds of people to live together. It specifies how government will be constituted, who will have power to make which decisions. It lays down limits on powers of government and tells us what rights of citizens are. It expresses aspirations of people about creating a good society.

Making of Constitution
• Indian Constitution adopted many institutional details and procedures from colonial laws like Government of India Act, of 1935.
• drafting of document known as Constitution was done by an assembly of elected representatives known as Constituent Assembly.
• Elections to Constituent Assembly were held in July 1946. Its first meeting was held in December 1946.
• Constituent Assembly that wrote Indian Constitution had 299 members.
• Assembly adopted Constitution on 26 November 1949, but it came into effect on 26 January 1950, which we celebrate as Republic Day every year.
• Assembly was dominated by Indian National Congress, party that led India’s freedom struggle.
• Rajendra Prasad was President of Constituent Assembly.
• H. C. Mookherjee was Vice-Chairman of Constituent Assembly.
• Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was chairman of Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly.
• Mahatma Gandhi was not a member of Constituent Assembly.

Philosophy of Constitution
• values of makers of Constitution are embedded in Preamble of Constitution which guides all articles of Indian Constitution.
• provisions to incorporate changes in Constitution from time to time are known as Constitutional Amendments.
• Constitution begins with a short statement of its basic values. It is known as Preamble to Constitution. It was adopted from Constitution of America [U.S.A.].

Preamble WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic, & political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, & worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring dignity of individual and unity and integrity of Nation;


Meaning of Key Words in Preamble
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA: Constitution has been drawn up and enacted by people through their representatives, and not handed down to them by a king or any outside powers.
SOVEREIGN: People have supreme right to make decisions on internal as well as external matters. No external power can dictate government of India.
SOCIALIST: Wealth is generated socially and should be shared equally by society. Government should regulate ownership of land and industry to reduce socio-economic inequalities.
SECULAR: Citizens have complete freedom to follow any religion. But there is no official religion. government treats all religious beliefs and practices with equal respect.
DEMOCRATIC: A form of government where people enjoy equal political rights, elect their rulers and hold them accountable. government is run according to some basic rules.
REPUBLIC: head of state is an elected person and not a hereditary position.
JUSTICE: Citizens cannot be discriminated against on grounds of caste, religion, & gender. Social inequalities have to be reduced. Government should work for welfare of all, especially of disadvantaged groups.
EQUALITY: All are equal before law. traditional social inequalities have to be ended. government should ensure equal opportunity for all.
LIBERTY: There are no unreasonable restrictions on citizens in what they think, how they wish to express their thoughts and way they wish to follow up their thoughts in action.
FRATERNITY: All of us should behave as if we are members of same family. No one should treat a fellow citizen as inferior.

NOTE: terms ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were added in Preamble through 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976.

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