6. Preamble of the Constitution

Preamble of the Constitution

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Preamble is an introductory and explanatory statement in a document that explains the document’s purpose and underlying philosophy.

The Preamble of our constitution reads as follows:

  • It is based on “Objective Resolution” drafted and moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in Constituent Assembly.
  • It is: Philosophy/values/essence/summary of Constitution.
  • It reflects aspirations and vision of India’s founding fathers.
  • It is Identity card of Constitution.
  • The Preamble page (like other pages of Constitution) is designed and decorated by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur.
  • It is amended one time – by 42nd CAA. 3 new words were added – ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’ and ‘Integrity’.

  “We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

  JUSTICE, Social, Economic and Political;

  LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

  EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all;

  FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

  IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.

Sovereign

It means:

•independence in deciding own policies and

•freedom to conduct own internal and external affairs.

•for e.g. economic policy, foreign affairs, environment commitments etc. •However, the binding decisions given by WTO (in economic matters), UN bodies (in foreign matters), climate change talks etc. have raised questions over this independence.

•But this is not a compromise with Sovereignty because:Decision to take membership of these bodies was India’s own.

•Before any action, ‘Due process’ is being followed in these bodies.

•India’s belief in “World as a home”. (olqnSo dqVqEcde)

Socialist

42nd CAA added this term, but it was inherent in our Constitution.

•India adopted its own brand of “Democratic Socialism” where the idea of ‘mixed economy’ is accepted i.e. both public and private sectors can co-exist and complement each other.

•However, questions have been raised over socialism after LPG reforms. •However, privatisation is being done, only to increase the capacity of government – so that it can focus on social sectors in more effective way.

Secular

•It is also inserted by 42nd CAA but inherent in Indian politic.

Unlike western countries, India adopted ‘concept of equality’ or positive secularism, where state will treat all religions equally. •However, various communal riots, public lynching, sectarian issues etc. have raised questions over Indian Secularism.

•But despite these issues, India is strong and united country reflecting ‘Unity in Diversity’. This shows the success of Secularism in India. •

Democratic

•The first line of Preamble mentions that India is constituted by its people – thus Citizens are supreme.

•This reflects democratic character of India as India is ruled by people and for people.

•Democracy in India means political, social and economic democracy: •Political democracy: like universal adult franchise; free and fair elections etc.

Social democracy: ideals of liberty, equality, justice and fraternity; independent judiciary; rule of law; etc.

Economic democracy: no monopoly, no concentration of wealth, income equality etc.

•After 73rd and 74th CAA, India has transformed its representative democracy into participative democracy.

•However, various issues like criminalisation of politics, corruption, power abuse by bureaucracy, election related problems etc have raised questions over Indian democracy.

•However, frequent electoral reforms, police reforms, governance reforms etc are strengthening Indian democracy.

Republic

•It is opposite of Monarchy.

•In a Republic, the head of the state is elected directly or indirectly for a fixed period unlike Monarchy.

•It is done to ensure that there is no privileged class and no one is getting privileges only because of his birth.

•Republic character of a country also means that people are sovereign and not an individual like a king.

In India, President is elected indirectly for a fixed period of 5 years. The office of President is open to all Indians. Thus, India is a Republic.

Justice – social, economic and political

•The ideals of justice have been taken from Russian Revolution.

“Social justice” means equal treatment of all citizens without any discrimination and at the same time improving conditions of underprivileged class.

“Economic justice” means ensuring equal distribution of wealth and eliminating inequality.

“Political justice” means equal political rights, equal access to political offices and equal choice and voice.

•Justice is ensured through Fundamental Rights and DPSPs.

Liberty – of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship

•It means absence of restraints on the activities of individuals – so that individuals get enough opportunities for their intellectual and physical development.

•In India, Liberty is ensured through Fundamental Rights – as they are enforceable in court of law.

•However, liberty is provided within the limitations of “reasonable restrictions”.

•For example, Article 19 in Fundamental Rights.

Equality – of status and opportunity

It means:

•equal treatment of all citizens,

•adequate opportunities for employment to all citizens and

•lack of any special privilege to any individual/group.

•Our Constitution provides for Equality through various provisions like Fundamental rights (Article 14-18), DPSPs (Article 39), Universal adult suffrage etc.

Fraternity

Fraternity will assure 2 objectives:

•To assure dignity of the individual: Personality of each citizen is sacred. •The unity and integrity of country: It not only aims at territorial integrity (i.e. India is indestructible union) but also aims at overcoming feelings of communalism, regionalism, casteism etc.

•It is aimed at promoting harmony and spirit of brotherhood amongst all citizens of our country.

•Various communal, linguistic, regional and sectional issues have tried to affect fraternity in our country but India is still maintaining its ‘unity in diversity’.

Preamble and Supreme Court.

Whether Preamble is part of Constitution:

•Berubari Union case (1960): Preamble is not part of Constitution. However, whenever there is ambiguity/confusion in interpretation of Constitution, assistance of Preamble can be taken.

•Kesavananda Bharti case (1973): Preamble is part of Constitution.

•LIC of India case: Preamble is part of Constitution. Also read:-Salient Features of Indian Constitution

Practice Answer Writing

Question – Discuss each adjective attached to the word ‘Republic’ in the ‘Preamble’. Are they defendable in the present circumstances? (UPSC Mains 2016)

Question – Do you think that some of the ideals enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution remain only on paper even today? Critically evaluate.