A constitution is the basic set of rules and principles specifying how a country should be governed, how power is distributed and controlled, and what rights and duties a citizen possess. It is usually written down and contained within a single document..
The Constituent Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946 in the Constitution Hall which is now known as the Central Hall of Parliament House. Decorated elegantly for the occasion, the Chamber wore a new look on that day with a constellation of bright lamps hanging from the high ceilings and also from the brackets on its walls.
Overwhelmed and jubilant as they were, the hon’ble members sat in semi-circular rows facing the Presidential dais. The desks which could be warmed electrically were placed on sloping green-carpeted terraces. Those who adorned the front row were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Smt. Sarojini Naidu, Shri Hare-Krushna Mahatab, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, Shri C. Rajagopalachari and Shri M. Asaf Ali. Two hundred and seven representatives, including nine women, were present.
Articles and Schedules in the Indian Constitution
The Indian constitution is the longest in the world with 448 articles, 12 schedules, and 98 amendments. It nearly took 3 years to draft the Indian constitution. The constituent assembly 284 members, out of which 15 were women. The drafting committee submitted the draft in November 1949, after which they took three more years to complete it.
The constitution of India was handwritten and calligraphed both in English and Hindi, it wasn’t typed or printed. The original copies are kept safely inside helium-filled cases in the library of the Parliament of India.
The Indian Constitution has taken various features from other constitutions. The concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity were taken from the French Constitution. The idea of 5-year plans was taken from the USSR and the concept of socio-economic rights was taken from Ireland. Most importantly, the law on which the Supreme Court works was taken from Japan. Many other concepts have been borrowed from other countries.
Constitution Day is also known as ‘Samvidhan Divas’, is celebrated in our country on 26th November every year to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India. On 26th November 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution of India, which came into effect from 26th January 1950. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 19th November 2015 notified the decision of the Government of India to celebrate the 26th day of November every year as ‘Constitution Day’ to promote Constitution values among citizens.
The people of India are the ultimate custodians of the Constitution. It is in them that sovereignty vests and it is in their name that the Constitution was adopted. The Constitution empowers the citizen, but the citizen to empower the Constitution – by following it, by adhering to it, by protecting it, and by persevering to make it more meaningful with words and deeds.
Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution
The Constitution is nobody’s preserve – and it is everybody’s preserve. When the Constitution was adopted in the year 1949, there were no provisions regarding Fundamental Duties to the Citizens though there was a Part III for Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Duties of citizens were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, upon the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee that was constituted by the Government. The Committee suggested that steps needed to be taken to ensure that the individual did not overlook his duties while in the exercise of his Fundamental Rights.
By way of the 42nd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1976, a new Chapter IV-A which consists of only one Article i.e. 51-A was added which dealt with a Code of Ten Fundamental Duties for citizens. Fundamental duties are intended to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while the constitution specifically conferred on them certain Fundamental Rights, it also requires citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behavior because rights and duties are correlative.
The inclusion of Fundamental Duties brought our Constitution in line with Article 29 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with provisions in several modern Constitutions of other countries. The concept of Fundamental duties was taken from the USSR. The Fundamental duties are essentially taken from the Indian tradition, mythology, religions, and practices. Essentially these were the duties that are the codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life. Originally ten fundamental duties were listed. Later on, under the 86th Constitution, the Amendment in the year 2002, 11th duty was added.
Article 51-A Part IVA Fundamental Duties
51A. Fundamental duties-
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
- to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
- to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
- to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India;
- to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
- to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
- to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
- to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures;
- to develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
- to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
- 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.
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