The Government of Maharastra has made reading Preamble of the constitution compulsory in the school assembly meetings every morning. From primary school to high school, students must remind themselves that they live in a democracy under this constitution. This is a great nationalist step. Every state Government in the country must do this needful thing at this juncture of our national crisis.
The Preamble and the portrait of Ambedkar became the symbols in all protest meeting against CAA and NRC. Women, especially Muslim women who never used to come out are on the streets. The university students also came out into streets trying to save the nation from slipping into anarchy. They are also trying to save India from international calumny about Indian democracy and its functioning by making Preamble and Ambedkar, the father of the constitution symbols of this struggle.
The Preamble of the constitution is the oxygen mask at a time of deadly anti-Indian disease that was let loose in the form of CAA and NRC by the Delhi Government. The future survival of this constitution is based on our children’s belief in the constitution and the constitutional morality that our founding fathers gave us as the national spirit and life blood of the democratic state and society. Neither the nation nor Indian democracy will survive if Mahatma Gandhi and Nathuram Godse, who killed him, are seen as equally patriotic. Our children should be able to distinguish between good and evil at an early stage in life. They should learn that a killer and killed can never be equated. They should learn the protagonist of non-violence and a protagonist of brutal violence cannot be respected at the same time and at the same level. The nation is being pushed into that kind of mental disorder where Gandhi and Godse could be equated.
The Preamble declared that “We the people–all of us without looking at what our religion, caste, race gender is—gave this nation to ourselves” on 26 January 1950. From that day the so called parampara of early India which operated with all kinds of inequalities caste, religious, colonial and gender brutalities, was replaced with a principle of what Ambedkar called ‘liberty, equality and fraternity ‘ of every individual. These rights are inalienable rights of every caste, religion, race and gender persona of our nation. It cannot be taken away with NRC. It cannot be not given to new comers, whether born here or migrated, for some reason with CAA.
Those who migrate from other countries for some reason and if we are convinced that they need protection and livelihood India should give citizenship to them without looking at their religion. We should look at their humanness but not religion. That is against the Preamble—what we call the Spirit–of our constitution.
The Preamble declares that India is a secular nation. The children from primary school onwards should know that religion is an individual choice and a private affair. Once the religion becomes a ground for granting citizenship the constitutional guarantee of secularism gets violated. Whoever wants to impose their private religion on the nation should be opposed based on our constitutional morality.
The idea of socialism in the preamble though does not speak of communist socialism, but lays a strong ground for modern democratic welfare system that we are using. The right to education and employment and right to dignity of labour and housing, old age pensions that Governments are giving today flow from this guarantee by the Preamble.
That we are a democratic republic is a foundational principle of the constitution. If our future citizens constantly do not fight and work for protecting democracy and republican form of Government the system can be driven in any direction. Democracy can be abolished and dictatorship could be brought about.
When the rulers are becoming more and more unpredictable the schools, colleges and universities are only the hope of the present democratic and republican system. This is where every young man/woman learns about the importance of the struggle of our freedom fighters, their sacrifices in the fight against the colonial rulers. They should know that hundreds died in the cause of establishing a democratic constitution.
The view that courts will protect the constitution and the people do not have to bother about it is not a correct idea. Judiciary is also headed or run by humans who have their own views and ideologies. People’s alertness makes judiciary also more responsible and functioning protector of the constitution. Educational institutions play a key role in educating people and keeping them informed.
Indians as people historically are not habituated for regular book reading and keeping books at home. Time has come that our children should be taught that every Indian must read constitution as duty. Normally people think that reading of the constitution is a work of lawyers and political science teachers. That is absolutely wrong. Every Indian must read constitution as part of the school education and also later in life.
Books of religion are read by people who belong to that particular religion. But Indian constitution is every Indian’s book–whatever could be ones religion or language. Making the constitution available plays a key role and the State Government must provide the constitution in all languages.
Though there was some debate on constitution during emergency between 1975-77 the number of educated people at that time was very limited. This much schools, colleges and universities were not there at that time in India. Now the situation is different.
When educated people take a selfish view they can participate in the activities of dismantling constitution students should act as a bulwark against this very idea. Education in itself is not a guarantee for sustenance of the principle ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. Educated people themselves created caste and untouchability in India. They asked others to practice it as our parampara. Our constitution opposes that paramapra. It declares that all Indians are equal. It initiated a new parampara of equality and well being of all. Many oppose this constitutional principle. We should oppose such forces of evil.
Now educated people must think about good of all, equality of all and welfare of all, not just of the rich and powerful. Constitution is meant to make people to live for the good of all. Everyday reading of the Preamble by young children and reading of the constitution by every young man/woman will save India from many dangers.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author of many books, the latest being From Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual—My Memoirs