Constitution: Constitution is usually a written document, containing the rules of governing a sovereign nation state.
Consensus: Agreement of all individuals on some issue.
Democracy: A form of government in which people largely hold the power of governance. The representatives of people constitute the government and undertake the constitutional responsibilities for the purpose of achieving the ideals of the constitution.
Equality: The state of being equal in all respects.
Fundamental Rights: Those rights which ensure a respectable and honoured life to all the citizens living in its jurisdiction.
Federalism: Existence of more than one level of government in a nation.
Ideal: A goal or a principle in its ideal form.
Monarchy : Kingship or rule of a king in absolute manner.
Polity : A society (such as India) which has an organised political structure.
Preamble : The introduction to our constitution is known as the Preamble.
Representative: The person who is elected by the people through a general election procedure to represent a constituency in the governance system.
Republican form of government : A republican government is one in which no individual has a hereditary right to public offices. There is no King or Queen in a Republic. India enjoys this form of government, as its head is elected indirectly by the people.
Sovereignty: Independence and freedom to govern oneself.
Tyranny of majority : Every society is prone to tyranny of the majority. The constitution usually contains rules that ensure that minorities are not excluded from anything that is routinely available to the majority. The constitution is precise to prevent this tyranny or domination by the majority on a minority.
Formation of the Constitution of India
(i) The long experience of authoritarian rule under the colonial state convinced the Indians that free India should be a democracy in which everyone should be treated equally and be allowed to participate in government.
(ii) This was not done by one person but, by a group of around 300 people who became members of the Constituent Assembly and met periodically for the next three years to form the Indian Constitution.
(iii) The country was made up of several different communities who spoke different languages, belonged to different religions, and had distinct culture. Also, when the Constitution was being being written, India was going through considerable turmoil.
The main features of the Indian Constitution are as follows:
(i) Preamble to our Constitution: Preamble is an opening statement or introduction to a document or speech. The Preamble states the aims and objectives of our Constitution. The Preamble points out the source from which our Constitution gets its authority.
(ii) Written and Large Constitution : Indian Constitution is in a written form and is also large, comprising all the details.
(iii) Democratic Government: A democratic government is one of the most important features of our Constitution. All adult citizens of India have the right to vote and elect their representatives. The laws made, should be for the benefit of the people.
(iv) Socialism: It means to remove inequality of income and to improve the standard of living. Its aim is to offer equal opportunity to all.
(v) Federal System: By federal system, we mean that the Constitution distributes its powers between the state and the centre. There are three lists of subjects, namely-Union List, State List and Concurrent List.The centre is made powerful than the states.
(vi) Universal Adult Franchise: Every citizen above the age of 18 years has a right to vote and he can elect his representative.
(vii) Provision of Fundamental Rights: Indian constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to the citizens of India. These rights are essential for the welfare and progress of the citizens.
(viii) Independent Judiciary: There is a provision for a free and independent judiciary in the Constitution. The executive does not control the judiciary.
Importance of a Constitution
The Constitution identifies the centre of power where decisions are taken. It decides how the government will be constituted and puts limit on what government can impose on its citizens, i.e. the government can never make rules that go against the laws of constitution. Finally, the Constitution expresses the fundamental identity of the people, which means that the people as a collective entity, come into being only through the Constitution.
The ideals that governed the members of the Constituent Assembly in framing the Constitution of India are :
The members of the Constituent Assembly were all freedom fighters.
(i) India shall be a democratic country.
(ii) Everyone would be treated equally.
(iii) Everyone would be allowed to participate in government procedures.
(iv) The sovereignty of the nation would be clearly stated.
(v) The rights of the citizens of India would be safeguarded.
The problems faced by the farmers of the Indian Constitution are as follows:
(i) The partition had created dividing tendencies among the people.
(ii) A sense of hatred prevailed among people for the other religious communities.
Therefore, the constitution-makers were faced with the task of creating a constitution that would incorporate the interests of all religions and social groups in India and promote an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
The Fundamental Rights provided by the Constitution of India are as follows:
(i) Right to Equality
(ii) Right to Freedom
(iii) Right Against Exploitation
(iv) Right to Freedom of Religion
(v) Cultural and Educational Rights
(vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies.
Fundamental rights are important because of the following reasons :
(i) They provide to the Indian citizens a safe-guard against the misuse of power by the state.
(ii) These rights aim to ensure the dignity of every individual.
(iii) These rights have been made judiciable, ie., the citizens can approach the courts in case of the violation of any of their Fundamental Rights.
The three organs of the Indian government are as follows:
(i) Legislature: It is a law-making body.
(ii) Executive: It looks after the implementation or laws.
(iii) Judiciary : It adjudicates the disputes.
(i) Federalism: It ensures national unity, and at the same time, allows individual progress. A federal government allows the Centre to hold supreme power, but its constituent states have some power as well.
Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. Usually, a federation has two levels of government. One is the government for the entire country that is usually responsible for a few subjects of common national interest. The others are governments at the level of provinces or states that look after much of the day-to-day administering of their state. Both these levels of governments enjoy their power, independent of each other.
(ii) Separation of Powers: This serves two purposes firstly, tyrannical use of power is avoided since it does not vest power in any single authority. Secondly, the three organs of power also work as oa check on each other, thereby maintaining a good balance.
(iii) Fundamental Rights: These are important because they conform to a humane society. They also Protect the citizens against arbitrary and absolute use of power by the State Fundamental Rights are various privileges granted to the citizens of a country by its Constitution. Its aim is to restrict arbitrary power of state and create an ideal condition for the development of an individual and of his/her potential.
(iv) Parliamentary Form of Government: It upholds universal adult franchise. This entails the fact that the people of a country play a direct role in electing their representatives to run the state as well as the nation.
According to the Indian constitution, Right to Equality means:
(i) Equality before law : Equality before law’ is the treatment status for a citizen through law given by the Constitution, as no individual should be seen with biased attitude in the eyes of law. All men are equal regardless of their caste, religion, race, gender birth. e.g. if a charge is over a common man or a big industrialist, they get same treatment in the matter of justice.
(ii) Equal protection of law : Equal protection of law is the preserving status for a citizen through law given by the Constitution, as all men have ‘right to live’ and ‘right to get proper livelihood’. According to his/her potential, all the people have equal opportunity to develop his/her potential, without any bias of caste, religion, race, gender or birth.
(iii) Prohibition on discrimination on ground of religion, caste, race, gender or birth.
(iv) Equal access to shops, public restaurants, bathing ghats, etc.
(v) Equality of opportunity for all citizens of India n matters related to employment.
(vi) Untouchability has been abolished and practice of it will be an offence, punishable in accordance with law.
(vii) The state shall not confer any title, except military and academic distinctions.
(viii) No citizen of India will accept any title from any foreign state. So, ‘right to equality includes every aspect of human life. We can say, it is right to prohibit discrimination on ground of caste, religion, birth, gender or race. It contains a theme of egalitarian society, in which all men are equal as per law and have equal opportunity to develop their personality and potential.
The theory of separation of Powers
The theory of separation of powers refers to the distribution of powers among the different organ of the government. Each organ is supposed to perform the responsibility entrusted to it without interfering in others’ work.
The benefits of separation of powers are as follows :
(a) It is instrumental in preventing the misuse of power by any one organ of the state.
(b) It creates a system of checks and balances, with each organ keeping an eye on the functioning of the other.
Secularism means that we do not have any official religion. The government cannot favour any one religion or discriminate against another. People belonging to any religion can freely practice their religion.
India is a Democratic State
(i) Periodical elections are held on the basis of universal adult franchise.
(ii) Rule of law is an essential feature of Indian democratic state.
(iii) All people enjoy the fundamental rights which are judiciable.
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is significant so far as it states the objectives of the Constitution (justice, liberty, equality and fraternity) and explains the functioning of the government.
The Right to Equality is one of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Its essence is as follows:
(a) It strives to give equal opportunity to all citizens of India.
(b) No citizen of India shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, race, caste, gender and place of birth.
(c) The Right focuses on treating all citizens equally and providing them equal opportunities.
The Indian Constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly. In 1946, under the Cabinet Mission Plan, the elections for the Constituent Assembly were held.
The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by the method of single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Seats among different provinces were allocated on the basis of population.
The seats were also reserved for Muslims, Sikhs and general candidates, in proportion to their population.
Out of the total membership of 389 of the constituent assembly , 292 were to be the representatives of the provinces, 93 of the princely states and rest of four members were to come from Chief Commissioner’s Areas, In the provincial elections, the Muslim League won 73 Seats, Congress 208 and independents and others Constituent Assembly, won 9 seats.
The first session was held on December 9, 1946. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President.Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru introduced Objectives Resolution which was passed on January 22, 1947.
It forms part of the Preamble to the Constitution of India. The draft of the Constitution was passed by the Assembly on November 26, 1949. It became effective from January 26, 1950.
Various levels of governance that exist in our country are as follows :
(i) Centre: Central Government
(ii) State: State Government
(iii) Village : Panchayati Raj
Federalism is necessary in a vast country such as India to accommodate the demands of all sections of the society in the decision-making process.
If there were no restrictions on the power of elected representatives, there would always be the possibility that those representatives might misuse their authority. The Constitution in a democracy usually provides safeguard against this act.
The Constitution limits the power of government in many ways. The most common way of limiting the power of government is to specify certain Fundamental Rights, that no government is allowed to violate. Citizens will be protected from being arrested arbitrarily. This is one basic limitation upon the power of government. Normally, citizens will have the right to some basic liberties: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom to conduct a trade or business, etc. But, these rights can be limited only during the time of national emergency.