Know the reasons why Ambedkar opposed the inclusion of the two terms ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’ in the Constitution

Indian media seems to be very sensitive to actions of the Narendra Modi government. Their sensitivity crosses all the limits on issues like ‘Ghar Vapasi’, terming India as ‘Hindu Rashtra’ etc. We have seen and experienced this sensitivity of the media turning into near hysteria in the recent past. The media once again became hyper sensitive to an advertisement issued by the Modi Government on the eve of Republic Day. This time the ‘deliberate omission’ of two ‘S’ words caused all the flutter. Some so called secularists and pseudo progressives too joined the bandwagon.

republic day ad Ambedkar Opposed Inclusion of the Two ‘S’ Words in Constitution

The I & B Ministry advertisement published in various newspapers on Monday carried a photo of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. The Preamble did not carry the two ‘S’ words—‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’. This was enough for the hyper-sensitive media and pseudo progressives and secular politicians to beat their drums. They started shouting in one voice accusing the Modi government of insulting the Constitution, trying to push forth their hidden agenda of converting India into Hindu Rashtra and so on and so forth.

The imagination of these Modi-baitors ran so wild that The Hindu carried a report that linked this ‘omission’ to the ‘attacks on minorities in the past few months’!  See the mechanism meant for public education so wildly and brazenly used by these ‘progressive seculars’ to create a fear psychosis! There have been no attacks on minority communities in the past months, save for some of the controversies that too blown out of proportion by the same media. But these secularist used this opportunity to manufacture such a psychosis.

The Leftists, intellectuals like Sudhindra Kulkarni, Maoists Kavita Krishnan and others launched online attack on the Modi government on this ‘omission’ as if the government had committed a major crime.

Former Congress minister Manish Tewari looked at this sacrilege as ‘unforgivable’ while Firstpost.com described this omission as “Republican Blunder” adding “Modi govt ad omits ‘Socialist, Secular’ from Constitution preamble.”  The Firstpost.com also tried to link this omission to activities of the Hindu organizations and ‘ghar vapasi’ drive to substantiate its claim.

In fact, the critics, the hypersensitive media and pseudo progressive seculars should take a look at the history before launching their diatribe against the government on these omissions. The constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly after a thorough and meaningful threadbare debate on each and every word. The original constitution adopted by the Assembly and effected on January 26, 1950 had a preamble that did not have these two ‘S’ words. They were later introduced during the emergency regime of Indira Gandhi through the 42nd Constitutional amendment.

preamble controversy Ambedkar Opposed Inclusion of the Two ‘S’ Words in Constitution

The I & B ministry published the original preamble maybe unintentionally in the advertisement, but the Constituent Assembly did debate these two words and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar strongly refused to incorporate them in the preamble.

On November 15, 1948 Prof K T Shah, a member of the Constituent Assembly from Bihar moved an amendment to the original preamble statement insisting that the words “secular, federal, socialist” be incorporated into the preamble..

Replying to his amendment Dr Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution justified his decision not to include these words in the preamble. DrAmbedkar gave reason to justify that there was no need to include the term ‘secular’ as the entire Constitution embodied the concept of secular state, which meant non-discrimination on grounds of religion and equal rights and status to all citizens.

On the inclusion of the term ‘socialist,’ he said it is against the very grain of democracy to decide in the Constitution what kind of society the people of India should live in.

Dr Ambedkar said: Sir, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment of Prof. K. T. Shah. My objections, stated briefly are two. In the first place the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism whereby particular members or particular parties are installed in office. What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves. This is one reason why the amendment should be opposed.

“It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves.”

Then Ambedkar remarked, “The second reason is that the amendment is purely superfluous.”

It was the late Indira Gandhi who forced the 42nd amendment on the country during the infamous Internal Emergency she had imposed on June 26, 1975 and introduced these two words –“Secular and Socialist” in the preamble. This was done obviously to placate the minorities (read Muslims) and the project her “pro-poor” image as Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap interprets. It was merely a political step, he adds.

dr ambedkar on contitution Ambedkar Opposed Inclusion of the Two ‘S’ Words in Constitution

The controversy will prove harmless for the Modi government as the advertisement only showed the Preamble originally signed by the members of the Constituent Assembly and not the ‘polluted one’. The original preamble sported the calligraphy of the famous artist Nand Lal Bose. It shows the Preamble as on January 26, 1950 when the country became a republic.

It was ironical that the word ‘socialist’ was introduced when India was witnessing the most fascist government under the emergency. Indira used this darkest hour of our democracy to introduce these two vary words that the principle architect of the constitution had explicitly rejected. If at all we need to do is to undo this sacrilege inflicted by the so called ‘seculars, socialists and pseudo progressives’ and restore the original draft of Dr Ambedkar.

As the Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said, let the country debate the issue in a most constructive and meaningful debate and come to a decision before jumping to any stray conclusion or use this opportunity to launch a diatribe against the government.

By: Virag Pachpore

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