“India today” Public V/S Republic

Remembering Architects of Republic, if the federal experiment has succeeded in India, it is not merely because of the clearly laid out constitutional provisions. The real success of federalism in India can be attributed to the nature of democratic politics in our country. This ensured that the spirit of federalism, respect for diversity and desire for living together became shared ideals in our country. But it was unimaginable to design and develop the system of governance. Although various Acts passed by ‘East India Company’ (EIC) helped the Indian leadership and republican architects to think that what for their struggle is and how can this be developed. The foundation of present Indian Republic can be traced when important Acts were passed by the then (EIC) which ruled India for nearly two centuries, it may include our judicial system or the system of Civil Services and the rule of law, to estimate, understand the modern Indian it is worth to mention the Acts which laid the foundation of our constitution viz. Indian Council Act (1861), Indian Council Act (1892), Indian Council Act (1909), Indian Council Act (1819)….., and finally Indian Independence Act 1947.
The idea for Constitution for India and a Constituent Assembly for India was given by M.N Roy in 1934, the pioneer of the Communist Movement in India and proposed for a Constituent Assembly, he was an advocate of radical democracy. After his proposal, it became an official demand of Indian National Congress, in 1935 and other important occasions the demand for Constituent Assembly was raised in its Working Committee meetings. C.Rajagopalachari voiced the demand for a Constituent Assembly and on November 15, 1939 based on adult franchise, the demand was accepted by the British Government.
On August 8, 1940, a statement was made by Viceroy Lord Linlithgow about the expansion of the Executive Council and establishment of War Advisory Council, known as ‘August Offer’ under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections were held for the first time for the Constituent Assembly. Although it worth to mention here the proposal of partition of the country slowed the momentum but this historical decision to draft the Constitution for India continued, which was implemented under the Cabinet Mission Plan and Indian Independence Act passed on July 18, 1947. The Constituent Assembly which met for the first time on December 9, 1946, although after the formation of Constituent Assembly, under the Mountbatten Plan a separate Constituent Assembly for Pakistan was established. The Indian Constituent Assembly reassembled on August 14, 1947 as an sovereign body and successor to the British Parliament authority in India. The members of the Constituent Assembly were, indirectly elected representtives who drafted the constitution for India, the Constituent Assembly existed approximately for three Years. Dr.Sachchidananda Sinha was the first chairman of Constituent Assembly, and later on Dr.Rajendra Prasad was elected. The Important members of the Constituent Assembly were, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, B.Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, M.K.Munshi, Vallabhbhai Patel , H.C.Mookherjee and J.B.Kripalani. All the members of the Constituent Assembly were the experts in their field and besides that they were the people of high caliber but what should be the contours of Indian Constitution was not clear.
Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, whom Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said was ,” bigger, better and more competent than myself” was born on May 14, 1883, in Nellore district (present-day Andhra Pradesh). Ayyar grew up in rather modest surroundings, his father Ekarma Sastry, a priest, believed that Ayyar would one day become a prominent figure in public life, he moved to then Madras Now Chennai to give his son the best quality of education and opportunity available, after finishing schooling, he was enrolled in the famous Madras Christian College (MCC) to study history. Such was his brilliance and eloquence that college appointed him as a tutor, in his spare time he used to attend law classes and eventually passed his Bachelor of Laws.(B.L.) exam and became a lawyer. Despite his bantam physical frame, when and where, he spoke always with an authority that radiated his knowledge. He became the leader of the Bar in seven years, a position which he ever retained, his expertise in law and legal profession was meteoric, from 1929 to 1944, he was the Advocate General of the then Madras Presidency, where he developed a reputation for moral integrity, fearlessness and unparalled knowledge of law. It is worth to mention here that, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar was never the member of Congress, but Pt. Nehru the first Prime Minister of Indian had invited Ayyar for the legal expertise even though he was not the member of Congress. It was his contribution to society through his legal and social attachments that he was presented with numerous distinctions and tangible approvals during his life time, as a lawyer and as a social reformer, The Kaiser-i-Hind in 1926, Dewan Bahadur in 1930 (title to an individual for his great service to nation), and Knighthood in 1932. In Constituent Assembly he was the member of nine committees, and the sub-committee on Fundamental Rights, which was the soul of the Indian Constitution. He was firmly supporting the role played by critical aspects of our constitution which will shape the future of India but its contours were very critical to draw, such as Citizenship, Universal Adult Franchise and the most important our Fundamental Rights. More pertinently, however, he spoke of how “citizenship carries with it right as well as obligations,” He always advocated the “reasonable restrictions” to some fundamental rights enshrined into our constitution especially during times of emergency. Although Ayyar believed that not all fundamental rights could be withdrawn in the time of emergency, he was having deep knowledge of national and international laws that was reason his opinion was weighed on all important issues.
There is nothing quite like hindsight, and although Ayyar was a visionary and a man of his time. No one was quite sure of the future course India would take as a sovereign, democratic , republic or whether it would even survive with the diversity of ethnic, caste, religious and political affiliations spread over the mighty Himalayas to great Indian Ocean a land mass which changes its language culture and dresses after every 300 Km. Ayyar was firm that the real test of the constitution was how it would play out in the hands of ordinary Indians, he was delighted when he saw the sight of voters thronging the polling booths and the happy acceptance of its verdict. To gauge the measure of Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, I must quote what tributes Dr. B.R.Ambedkar paid to him during the concluding days of the Constituent Assembly ” I came into the Constituent Assembly with no greater aspirations than to safeguard the interests of the Schedule Caste. I had not the remotest idea that I would be called upon to undertake more responsible functions. I am therefore greatly surprised when the Constituent Assembly elected me to the Drafting Committee. I was more surprised when the Drafting Committee elected me to be its chairman. There were in the Drafting Committee men bigger, better and more competent than myself such as my friend Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar”. Majority of the members of the Constituent Assembly were assigned or inducted to continue in the Government at different levels, but Ayyar rejected this proposal and continued to practice as lawyer in Madras High Court. To respect and remembering the tireless work of these ethereal architects of republic, it is the duty of every citizen to protect, cherish and promote our constitution laid down by our forefathers. All political parties, the Government and the opposition alike, should restrain to use some crucial constitutional issue to gain political mileage which vigorously defend their ideas keeping the national significance at bay. It is very difficult to reform and transform the country until and unless all its citizens do take part in national building process. We should support the Government if any amendment or change in constitution is made to promote, defend and protect the national interests keeping the party, regional and political interests at bay.
(The author is an academician and can be reached at dpandita2011@gmail.com)