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5th February 2024 (9 Topics)

'We the People' and Civil Society

Context:

Democracy is a vibrant idea with multitude of voices and opinions. The functioning of it under the constitution demands that all such voices are given space. In this aspect Civil Society plays a vital role. It not only furthers the voice but also act as an agent of maintaining popular sovereignty.

1. Popular Sovereignty in Constitutional Discourse:

   - Revolutionary Potential: The revolutionary potential of the Indian Constitution lies in the concept of popular sovereignty. Constitutionalism developed as a result of inter-generational discourse in Indian political thought during the pre-founding colonial period.

   - Inter-generational Discourse: The decades-long process of dialogue among political actors that led to the enactment of the Constitution, focusing on the character of the envisaged republic.

   - Preamble's Anchoring: Analyzing the explicit anchoring of the republic's legitimizing ends in the Preamble, emphasizing justice, liberty, and equality for all Indian citizens.

2. Elite vs. Non-Elite Spheres in Civil Society:

   - Inert Elite Public Sphere: Observing the inertia of the traditional elite public sphere, influenced by the western tradition, in the face of challenges to prevailing constitutional governance.

   - Forceful Democratic Claims: Recognizing the forceful democratic claims to popular sovereignty originating from the non-elite counter-sphere, encompassing social movements, farmers, labor groups, and human rights activists.

   - Need for Equality: Emphasizing the necessity of according complete equality to counter-sphere political actors within civil society for the liberatory potential of democratic forms of popular assertions.

3. Civil Society for Pluralism: Gandhi and Ambedkar's Perspectives:

   - Ambedkar's Framing of the Preamble: Exploring B.R. Ambedkar's framing of the Preamble as heralding a way of life that recognizes the inseparability of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

   - Gandhi's Notion of Swaraj: Understanding Mahatma Gandhi's conception of Swaraj as a creative process of self-realization and the means to achieve it through 'satyagraha' (truth force and love force).

   - Pluralist Civil Society: Advocating for a pluralist civil society structured on the free and equal participation of every community, fostering honest and introspective dialogue for mutual understanding.

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