Another Republic Day has passed, and yet again we forgot that it was our Constitution that came into being on this very day, and in its place celebrated the achievements and the strength of our Army. Now, I have nothing against the men and women in the army. I treat them with the same respect, or disrespect as each of its members deserves or commands. But surely, as controversial as it may sound, not even the Army is bigger than the Constitution.
It would have been rather nice to watch all the lovely celebrities spare a thought for the Constitution of India as well in their annual emotional ode to the soldiers on platforms like Twitter. I find it quite perplexing how conveniently we have let an entire ecosystem to be built so easily that it sidelines the Constitution in our daily lives. From our schools to mass media, an honest attempt to make us all aware of the Constitution seems lacking. Sure we know how detailed our Constitution is, how it was inspired by so many countries, how there are provisions to enhance its scope as per the changing times. But do we even know what is actually written inside it?
Instead of having us read an abridged version of Ramayana in Class 7 and of Mahabharata in Class 8, wouldn’t it have been more useful to read an actual copy of the Constitution?At least, we should have a copy somewhere in our houses. I am not sure what I learned from reading the two Hindu epics at school that I didn’t already know. I am sure I, and for that matter, everyone else would have learned a lot had they read the constitution instead.
Most of the activities we engage in or watch others engage in on a daily basis go against some or the other constitutional provision. Whether it be rash driving or littering in public space. Open smoking is perhaps illegal thanks to some or the other page in the Constitution. Had we been aware of the basic ideas that go behind the formulation of these laws, wouldn’t we have been more averse to engaging in the practices that go against them; would we be so accustomed to people breaking these laws and getting away with it? Wouldn’t that have been a true education. Something that would make whole society better.
Yet, how much do we know about our Constitution? It is important to understand here, that though not part of it, the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code cannot violate the Constitution and must remain true to the rights of a citizen as granted by the Constitution. The significance of the Constitution is hence, paramount.
Yet, on the very day, it was adopted, it is forgotten the most. I am sure there is an explanation for having an Army parade on the event of Republic Day, but I am sure that it cannot convince anyone as to why the Constitution has to not be a part of the grand annual celebration in the capital. We can easily have another day to celebrate the achievements of the Army. Call it Army Day. Everyone can use a new holiday. But why can’t we focus on the Constitution for once? Why can’t we focus on the rights that are assured to us by it? Why can’t we use this day as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the principles which were envisioned to take our country forward upon independence and on which our country has been built since that time?
Is it any wonder then that we so easily forget our basic democratic rights. That we forget the rights of others and often find ourselves not just grossly ignorant of them, but even conveniently negligent of them. That we forget our fundamental duties towards the nation, while so easily holding everyone by the neck for not singing the National Anthem the way we would like them to. And more importantly, that we forget our duties towards our fellow citizens. In the absence of this basic understanding, we are clueless today when among all our differences, we are faced with the challenge of keeping our country and all its people together. We are severely uninformed about the Constitution and our unwillingness to use the Constitution as a guide for building a nation borders on foolishness; it is a pathological tendency that is close to suicidal.
It is no wonder, that we find so many people dissing the entire concept of a socialist state so casually and smearing its name, muddling it up with communism, and that too so openly without realising that we the people have solemnly resolved to constitute India into one.
The reality is that we have been allowed to so easily forget the Constitution of our country and have been driven towards a sense of nationalism while being devoid of any constitutional sense, can yet allow us to feel proud of ourselves and our country. This has allowed the various governments till now, to function regardless of its duties, to distract us with trivial issues, and to easily rob us of our democratic rights and privileges without us ever finding out. To forget our own Constitution is perhaps the biggest crime against the nation and we are all guilty of it.
January 26 is one day when we can actually look back at the Constitution and re-affirm our belief and our commitment towards its goals and ideals. Hoping, the next year brings us a better Republic Day. An actual Republic Day.