Evolution of New India: The ground rules of ‘the one land of many’

News: The idea of India emerges from the nationalist movement and its institutionalization in the republic. On the 72nd anniversary of republic day, India must relook at the direction of the Indian republic.

How did the idea of New India emerge?

Earlier conceptions of India drew from mythology and theology. The modern idea of India had a mystical influence of Tagore and the spiritual and moral influence of Gandhiji.

Read here: Nationalism | Gandhi’s idea of pluralism and Secularism

Yet, under the guidance of Ambedkar, Nehru and Patel – the foundations of a secular republic were laid. They were based on conceptions of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity with rule of law as the foundation or bedrock of the national project. Liberal constitutionalism shaped the civic nationalism of India, aiding in the evolution and modernisation of Indian society.

How did the modern ideas shape new Indian citizens?

The interrelation of the legal system and society leads to the formation of communities. These communities become societies that then become civilizations and these civilizations acquire national and historical character.

Dr Ambedkar specifically mentioned that the loyalty of Indians should not be affected by any competitive loyalty of religion, culture or language. He laid a special focus on caste identity and the operation of weaker sections.

The establishment of constitutional democracy in post-colonial India attempted to free Indians from categorization and social inequalities. In this process, Constitution transcended all those identities which defined and divided Indians.

The Constitution provided a legal structure to the idea of India. It’s reflected the idea that one nation may incorporate differences of caste, Creed, culture, colour etc. and may still rally around a democratic consensus. The consensus is around the simple principle that in a democracy, under the rule of law, one doesn’t need to agree all the time. But should agree on ground rules.

How did Dr Ambedkar incorporate the weaker sections into New India?

Ambedkar was sceptical that national independence would lead to the social and political domination of the upper class. To end caste tyranny, he believed Dalits must support India’s freedom from British rule and at the same time pursue their struggle for equal rights within the framework of the new Constitution.

How to save the spirit of the Constitution in the new India?

It is possible to pervert the Constitution by merely changing the form of administration. Dr Ambedkar thus enshrined directive principles. The principles confirmed that whoever captures power will not be free to do what he likes with it.

The spirit of the Constitution cannot be allowed to be perverted by those in power. Hence, the spirit of the Constitution has to be followed as a guide as India head towards the 75th anniversary of independence.

Source: This post is based on the article “The ground rules of ‘the one land of many’ published in The Hindu on 22nd January 2022.

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