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3rd October 2023 (10 Topics)

A time to articulate new constitutional ideas for India

Context:

India's constitutional evolution, influenced by Gandhi and Ambedkar, prompts a discussion on adapting constitutional ideas to modern governance challenges.

Revisiting Constitutional Ideas

  • Decolonization Efforts: India is undergoing a process of decolonization, evident in renaming and modernizing infrastructure.
  • Gandhi's Vision: Mahatma Gandhi's 1908 vision for a swaraj constitution emphasized local governance, self-sufficiency, and a sense of duty.
  • Gandhi's Constitution Challenge: Gandhi tasked Shriman Narayan Agarwal with drafting a "Gandhian Constitution," emphasizing moral codes over legal provisions.

Gandhi's Pragmatism and Ambedkar's Vision

  • Ambedkar's Appointment: Gandhi pragmatically distanced himself from his own constitution and appointed B.R. Ambedkar to lead the drafting committee in 1947.
  • Divergent Views: Ambedkar envisioned a strong state, economic management, and individual rights, while Gandhi advocated self-sustaining villages and personal transformation.
  • Consensus Priority: Despite disagreements, Gandhi recognized the consensus around Ambedkar's ideas, allowing the adoption of a different constitution.

Articulating New Constitutional Ideas

  • Current Context: India, in a state of flux, should focus on articulating new constitutional ideas building on both Ambedkar and Gandhi's visions.
  • Gandhian Ideas: Incorporating some radical Gandhian concepts can address governance challenges without reverting to pre-modern ideals.
  • Gradual Evolution: Constitutional change shouldn't happen overnight, but India should engage in a deliberative process to adapt to contemporary needs.
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