India became republic on 26 January 1950 when the Indian Constitution was made effective. The Constitution making process, presided over by Dr.Rajendra Prasad and initiated on the basis of the Objective Resolution moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, took almost three years and the Chief Architect of it was Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India took place on December 9, 1946 at New Delhi with Dr Sachidanand being elected as the interim President of the Assembly. However, on December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President and Dr. H.C. Mukherjee as the Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly. While moving the Objective Resolution in the Constituent Assembly to declare its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance , Nehru stated: “India has been under the sway of the British for the last 150 years. We do not wish to go into things against which we have continuously raised our voice ever since the advent of the British Raj. We will not at present speak of the injuries done to India during this one and a half century. They not only deprived us of our freedom but also created disunity among us. We are not to go into these things today. We, however, cannot ignore the struggle and sacrifices of our leaders. In the beginning our leaders demanded freedom by passing resolutions with explanations and submitting them to the Government. We were subjected openly to high-handedness and the Government were everywhere openly favouring the British. We earnestly appealed to our rulers to treat us with justice.”
On the D-Day when the Constitution was approved i.e. 26 November 1949, Dr. Rajendra Prasad said: “There are only two regrets which I must share with the Hon’ble Members I would have liked to have some qualifications laid down for members of the Legislatures. It is anomalous that we should insist upon high qualifications for those who administer or help in administering the law but none for those who made it except that they are elected. A law giver requires intellectual equipment but even more than that capacity to take a balanced view of things to act independently and above all to be true to those fundamental things of life in one word to have character. It is not possible to devise any yardstick for measuring the moral qualities of a man and so long as that is not possible, our Constitution will remain defective. The other regret is that we have not been able to draw up our first Constitution of a free Bharat in an Indian language. The difficulties in both cases were practical and proved insurmountable. But that does not make the regret any the less poignant.”
Dr.Ambedkar, the Chief Architect of the Constitution while presenting the final draft for approval on 25 November 1949 cautioned the Assembly: “For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship. We must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity….By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame except ourselves. There is great danger of things going wrong. Times are fast changing. People including our own are being moved by new ideologies. They are getting tired of Government by the people. They are prepared to have Governments for the people and are indifferent whether it is Government of the people and by the people. If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. That is the only way to serve the country. I know of no better.”
Hope the rulers of the great country follow what the trio has dreamt of.
Next Column : The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s views
Pandit Nehru, Dr.Rajendra Prasad and Dr.Ambedkar