26 Nov was the Constitution Day.
It will be sobering to know that the original constitution adopted on this day in 1949 was 65% a verbatim copy of the 1935 colonial Govt. of India Act. It did not include the crucial education, health and employment for all as fundamental rights and allowed the continuance of such repressive colonial laws like the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Forest Act, Land Acquisition Act and the like. Women were denied the right to property.
The biggest lacuna was that panchayati raj was not implemented as the first tier of governance. Moreover, a first past the post electoral system was implemented instead of a proportional representation system which latter is more suited to the diversity of India.
Over and above this to ensure that whatever fundamental rights were guaranteed were not violated by the state or powerful people one had to approach the High or Supreme Courts. Now this was something that most people in this country were unable to do and so in the early years after independence the fundamental rights of a vast majority of the people were wilfully violated by both the state and the powerful people and even today the situation is pretty bad. In fact the feudal elements instead approached the constitutional courts to block progressive legislation.
The deleterious results of these serious flaws are there for all to see. We wouldn’t have been a nation of 1.3 billion undernourished, ill educated and underemployed people as we are today if boys and girls had been going to school immediately after independence instead of getting married and producing children and their parents were gainfully employed.
This happened because the members of the constituent assembly were either elected by an electorate of just 19% elite population from the British provinces or nominated by the princely states. 92% were from the Savarna castes and except for Ambedkar, Jaipal Singh Munda and a few other Dalits, all the rest were feudal, patriarchal and casteist elements.
The bureaucracy that did the actual drafting was totally Savarna and erstwhile collaborators of the British.
Not to say that the Drafting Committee did not do its job. Babasaheb was able to get the provisions for the reservations for SCs and STs through but he could not do much else. That is why he said at the end – “we must not be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social and economic democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social and economic democracy“.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Chairman of Drafting committee of the Constitution was involved in the drafting of each provision of the Constitution despite his bad health and busy social reform activity. T. T. Krishnamachari in his speech in Constituent assembly about Dr. Babasaheb’s dedicatory contribution said, “Out of the seven members selected to prepare the draft constitution, one resigned, one died, one left for America, one was busy with his work in princely state, one or two live away from Delhi, some had to be excused for health reasons, Dr. Ambedkar was the only one who had to bear the burnt.” The first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, praised the services rendered by Dr. Babasaheb in the making of the Constitution said, “I have carefully watched the day-to-day activities from the presidential seat. Therefore, I appreciate more than others with how much dedication and vitality this task has been carried out by the Drafting Committee and by its chairman Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in particular. We never did a better thing than having Dr. Ambedkar on the Drafting Committee and selecting him as its chairman.”