Just one year after the Indian Republic was born, Ivor Jennings, the world’s then leading constitutional expert on constitutional law, had opined that the Indian constitution would not endure—as it was too caged by history, was too long and rigid, and too unwieldy to be moulded into something useful through judicious interpretations.
And today, we celebrate the 71st Republic Day in the world’s largest democracy. Not only has the Constitution of India incorporated changes, but it has also remained the torchbearer of this great nation. As I pen down my ‘Idea of India’, thoughts revolve around the current happenings in our country, which seem quite obvious. The protests, the criticism of ideologies, the tussle between political left and right and so on, take centre stage.
However, there is one thing which remains constant, no matter how blurred it may seem to be in the political or civilian discourse, and that is the Constitution. The very fact that I can write down this article and post it on this platform, that journalists can write columns in newspapers and people can express their views in public and on social media, that comedians can take a dig at the politics in the country and people continue to have a firm belief in the Constitution, in itself, is a testimony to the fact that India, as a nation, as an idea and as a constitutional democracy, has stood strong and will continue to do so.
Whether the recently passed pieces of legislation are constitutional, whether one adheres to political left or right, or remains apolitical, is nowhere compared to the spirit of this magnanimous document. The constitution belongs to ‘We, the people of India’, as mentioned in the Preamble. The ongoing protests can be best understood as an act of reclamation of faith in this very document. That people all over the country, are reciting the Preamble to the constitution, as a symbol of protest, stresses on the fact that the spirit of the constitution lives and shall continue to do so.
A citizen of this country can go in flashback and recall the events where this country stood the test of times. The judiciary upholds the ideals of the constitution, embraces progressive changes and protects the law of the land. Recently, the office of Chief Justice of India has been declared a public office, and thus, under the ambit of Right to Information Act. The Supreme Court has decriminalised Section 377, rewriting its own judgement. Thus, the range, scope and diversity of its judgements have proved to be the ultimate preserver of the law.
And, as an ordinary citizen, when I recall this day, this evening, I see myself waking up a bit early to watch the live telecast of the R-Day parade. Later, I ask my mother if she watched the parade, and I get an answer in the affirmative. I see people gathering at the sweet shops to buy jalebis as it is kind of customary to have this delicacy on this day. The reason is yet unknown to me—maybe it is likening sweets to happiness. And I also see news of protestors unfurling the tricolor at Shaheen Bagh. This is my idea of India, a great nation, a vibrant democracy, a superpower in the making, one which remains everybody’s India, come what may!