Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Indian Constitution was adopted on Nov 26th, 1949.

| 6 Comments

The wiki entry says, “The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950, proclaiming India to be a sovereign, democratic republic. It contained the founding principles of the law of the land which would govern India after its independence from British rule. On the day the constitution came into effect, India ceased to be a dominion of the British Crown. The Indian constitution is the world’s longest constitution. At the time of commencement, the constitution had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. It consists of almost 80,000 words and took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to build.”

I have tried unsuccessfully to read the constitution. I could not understand it. Over the years I have asked thousands of educated Indians if they have read the Indian constitution and not one has claimed to have read it fully. A few have read parts of it, some only the preamble, and most have no idea what it is about except for that they know that it is the longest constitution in the world.

The Indian constitution is like the holy books of the monotheists. They all hold it in high regard but only a few have read. If you ask them, they will say, “Yes of course, I have read it.” Probe deeper, “You mean you have read it cover to cover?” and they will admit, “Well, I have read parts of it.” That does not count as having read it.

“Have you read Tolstoy’s War and Peace?”
“Yes.”
“Start to finish?”
“No, the first couple of pages.”

The point here is to show that the constitution is unread and that’s primarily because it is unreadable. Why does it have to be readable? Because it is supposed to lay down the basic rules of the state. Why? Because it has those basic rules have to be properly understood by the people. Why? Because if you don’t understand them, you cannot agree with them, and which agreement is important as a citizen.

  • VirtualPresence

    You do start with the perception that the constitution/law is obfuscated intentionally to provide a selective advantage to those in privileged positions. A single supreme court case can run into the millions. Most documents, be they language specifications, manual pages, EULA or the constitution are treated as a learn-what-you-need document apart from those people whose job it is to draft and deal with them professionally. If the aim of a constitution was to lay down rules like the commandments then they have failed in the endeavor but I believe the aim isn’t as simple and it needs to deal with the complexity of human behavior. The expressability or the lack of it in the English language is also to blame.

    • http://oshantomon.blogspot.com/ Sambaran Mitra

      Nice thought VirtualPresence. You made me rethink a point-of-view on which I was very well convinced of the opposite.
      So now I hope for a constitution-made-easy in English. I have seen some websites giving ‘summary in plain english’ along with the legalese terms-and- conditions. May be some enthusiastic individual can come up with something similar for our constitution which is currently in legalese.

  • rahul mehta

    {I am deleting this comment as it suggests committing an unfair, underhanded act. I hope the writer of the comment understands why this is so.}

    • rahul mehta

      Atanu, Please help to support modi. Please vote asap.

      • Atanu_Dey

        As it happens, I did vote for Modi and tweeted about that a few days ago. But even then, I don’t see how it can “support Modi”. It is not as if TIME’s choosing Modi through a public poll makes Modi more or less attractive to voters in India.

        • rahul mehta

          Atanu, Only indian to receive Times POY award is mahatma gandhi and he received it 83 years ago in 1930. If modi gets this award then in my opinion this will make a huge buzz and it will be helpful for modi to attract more voters. Thats why I am fighting hard to convince more people to vote for modi.

          Rahul