Monday, February 08, 2010

60 Years Of The Indian Republic And A Debate

This is late by 10 odd days but on the occasion of having completed 60 years as a Republic, I take this opportunity to present to you the content of my speech from a debate that I had participated in when I was in standard tenth. India had just completed 50 years as a Republic and a debate had been organized as part of the celebrations. It is nice to go back to this and see how relevant it is today.

Disclaimer: I was just 15 years old and writing the text of a 10-minute debate speech for the first time. My language as well as world-view are likely to be very very naive here. I have grown up since.

Motion of the House: The Constitution of India, during the last 50 years, has served the people well.

Stand: In favour of the motion

Show me one country where one can build a temple, a church, a mosque and a gurudwara in the same neighbourhood! Show me one country where where every other person follows a different religion, culture and traditions! Show me one country where an individual is free to do things of his own without having to answer anyone till in his own limits! Search all round the world and your search will not end till you come back to India. This objective of free, fearless and frank minds has been realized by our constitution. It is the fundamental duty of every every citizen to abide by and respect the constitution. And this everyone must do in his best capacity.

Our constitution had to be framed keepingin mind the fact that India houses people coming from all walks of life, all various religions, diversified cultures and a broad spectrum of customs and traditions. The reality that today our constitution satisfies all of its citizens is, in my opinion, its greatest achievement.

Our constitution describes our democratic republic as a secular state. And is not our list of festivals an evidence? Right from Id in January to Christmas in December we walk through all the festivals of all the religions. And this nationwide celebration promotes fraternity - another provision of our constitution. Both those values account for peaceful co-existence. So hospitable are we in this respect that we've had priests from Japan coming and constructing temples in our ambiance and a religious Buddhist leader coming all the way from China to seek religious asylum.

The constitution provides for social, political and economic justice for all.

We have been assured liberty by our constitution. We also have the six freedoms - 
 
i) Article 19 of the Human Rights Charter and our Article 19 provide freedom of speech and expression.
ii), iii) Article 20 of the Human Rights Charter and our Article 19B provide freedom of peaceful assembly and association. These are important in the sense that they have given equal opportunity to everyone to unite eg. employees and employers; they are free to form unions, join unions, work together and fight for justice.
iv), v) Article 13 of the Human Rights Charter and our Article 19 give freedom of movement and residence. Our Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology has been surveyed to be the best in the world. The same goes for the IITs. Yet, our younger generation migrates for education and employment. This proves that our constituion provides for freedom of movement not only in the country but also outside at the cost of progress, development and as per the preference of the citizens.
vi) We also have the freedom of profession, occupation, trade or business.
 
The above discussion shows that most of the provisions of the Human Rights Charter of the UN also find a place in our constitution.

Now, for equality. Section 1.4 of our constitution says 'The State shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of laws within the territotry of India'. Section 1.6 subclass 2 says 'No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them be eligible to be discriminated against in respect of any employment or office under the state'. Article 1 of the HUman Rights Charter and our Article 14 say 'All men are born equal'. Had it not been for equality, how could a poor farmer's boy from a Dalit family rise to become the President of India? When the co-called developed nations were still fighting for voting rights of the fairer sex, we opted to place a woman in the highest political post. Today, those very developed nations have voted her as the woman of the millennium through BBC - Mrs. Gandhi. Our constitution gace women enough place to leap into space. Our constitution by removing gender discrimination has risen above religious discrimination. In the pre-constitutional days, right to father's property was nejoyed by the sons. But today, equal right to property has given better financial security to women thus improving their life status.

We've been gifted with fundamental rights by our constitution. We have the right to equality which I've already briefed upon. The right to freedom elaborates the six freedoms. Right against exploitation includes ban on slavery by Human Rights Charter Article 4 and our Article 23; ban on torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment by Article 5 and 21 respectively; ban on human trafficking and forced labour. Article 14 and 25 respectively grant the right to religion, Article 27 and 51A(F) give cultural and educational rights. MOreover Article 3 and 21 assert the right to life. We also have the right to protect these rights legally! A special Article 13 on child's rights says 'A child shall have the right to freedom and expression; this includes the freedom to seek, receive, impart information and ideas of all kinds regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, or in print, in form of art or through any other media of the child's choice' Aren't we childrem speaking our minds out a fine example of this?

The constitution deirects the State through directive principles of the State Policy. Section 3, Part iv, Article 41 says 'The State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development make effective provision for securing the right to work, education, public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undesired want'. This is in co-ordination with the right to organize. There are many more guidelines available.

When most other countries thought newspapers to be the mouthpieces of Governments, we opted for a free press where the government can be criticezed, corrected, adviced and transparency maintained. The same goes for a free judiciary.

The constitution has benefited a few individual fields too. In the pre-constitutional era, publicing one's scientific work required dependence on others. Today we are self-reliant and have achieved a prominent place in scienc and technology. We have our own experts right from computers to nuclear science, thanks to the constitutional provisions to encourage scientific temper and research. Section 48 on Agriculture and Animal HUsbandry says 'The State shall endeavour in to organize agricluture and agriculture on modern and scientific lines and shall in particular take steps prohibiting slaughter of cows and other milch and draught cattle' Moreover, our first five year plan was focussed on agriculture.

It happens often that we have all the ingredients to cook good food. But an inexperienced chef spoils it all. Similarly, our constitution has provided all opportunities for every possible development. But sometimes due to the selfish nature of the implementing authorities the fruits do not reach the common man. For executional flaws we cannot blame the world's longest written constitution. Our constitution has been cooked in such a way that all flavours are of the people, by the people and for the people. In an ideal situation, we would have progressed 5 times as mush as we have. But vested interests have acted as speed breakers.

My fellow speakers may go on to say that any Tom, Dick or Harry can hold political office irrespective of educational status. But wisdom and literacy are two different things. A wise but illiterate person may govern the country better than an unwise and literate one, which is why our constitution allows it.

Ultimately our constitution, which was formed dispassionately with all the Human Rights, minorities, interests etc. in view, wanted to establish the importance of a single citizen as a person and it has achieved its purpose. In my opinion, it has beyond doubt proven to be an instrument of social change in 50 years. I had begun with a fundamental duty and shall end with one too: it is our duty to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

5 Thinkers Pondered:

Piyush Agarwal said...

Finally I am leave a comment on your blog. Have been shamelessly reading your posts and out of laziness not leaving a word.. :)

This piece is impressive, reminded me my school days when I went thru several debates, extempore, 1-min JAM, etc. You are lucky enough to still possess this. And after reading this I am convinced about the fact that likhne ki ye aag bahut pehle se lagai gayi hai.. :P

So what was the result of this debate? Did you win? Also, your current blog theme is the same as what I am using for Tahatto blog. :)

mentalie said...

this piece makes me want to be 14 and idealistic and naive all over again...*sigh* i hope you won, anupama :)

iamyuva said...

well written..

interesting disclaimer. so what changed (if any) from those naive years.!!

Eveline said...

Awesome! I wish I had something just as eloquent to add. Most eloquently said, Anupama.
Sorry it took me so long to get back here and catch up with your posts. Hail to the chief! :))

Kalpak said...

Hey Anupama,

It cant be better than this blog where I start posting comments.

Good to see you also remember those days.