Friday, 8 January 2016

Difficult circumstances under which our Constitution was adopted

>>271 men and women who were part of the Constituent Assembly, drafted the Indian Constituion after three years of debate over the governing charter of India.

>>The Constitution consists of 90,000 words carefully handwritten in English and Hindi. The books were also illustrated with events from Indian history exquisitely prepared by the great national artist, Nandalal Bose of Santiniketan.

>>There were no foreign consultants involved in framing the Constitution. The founders were adamant that Indians should have full control over the drafting procedure. Thus, the assistance of several lawyer-members were sought: Nehru, Prasad, Ambedkar, and Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar were part of the historic draft.

>>Based on expert inputs, the Assembly's Constitutional Adviser B.N. Rau prepared an initial draft constitution in February 1948. Rau's draft was further revised by Ambedkar's drafting committee and issued in November 1948.

>>The Assembly took almost a year to discuss it. More than 2,000 amendments were considered and several were accepted. The drafting committee produced a revised draft, which was eventually adopted by the Assembly, with some changes, as the Constitution on November 26, 1949.

>>When the Assembly convened for its final session on January 24, 1950, its secretary, H.V.R. Iengar announced that Rajendra Prasad had been elected unopposed as India's first President. He invited members to sign the Constitution's calligraphic copies. Nehru was the first to do so and members from Madras followed him.

>>After the last member had signed the books, Prasad decided that he, too, must do so. But, rather than signing behind the last signatory, he inserted his name in the small space between the last line of the text and Nehru's signature.

>>Two days later, the Constitution became fully effective. At a ceremony held in Rashtrapathi Bhavan's Durbar Hall, Governor General Rajagopalachari solemnly proclaimed India as a “Sovereign, Democratic Republic”.

>>Through its unprecedented abolition of untouchability, the Constitution serves as a powerful emancipation proclamation ending centuries of caste-based discrimination and social exclusion.

>>The Constitution expressly guarantees every citizen important fundamental rights, which may be subject to only certain restrictions. These rights include the ability to freely speak and express oneself; the freedom of conscience and to profess, practise, and even propagate a religion; basic protections against arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities, and various cultural and educational guarantees.

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