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Spirit of the Indian Republic
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma 1/26/2020 10:09:57 PM
Every year 26th of January is celebrated as the Republic Day in India. On this day we celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution of India and the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on 26th January, 1950 across the nation. On this day we proudly fly our tricolor flag, sing patriotic songs and pay tributes to our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the nation. The word democracy has been derived from the Greek word 'demokratia' which consists of the two components namely 'demos' meaning people and 'kratos' meaning rule. Together we mean people's rule. The western scholars such as Bertland Russell and Will Durant trace the origin of the democratic to the city of Athens in Attica which flourished in the fifth century B.C. The word 'Republic' is of Latin origin meaning a state in which the government is carried on by the people or through their elected representatives. The essence of an ideal republic is free and enlightened citizenship. In such a republic, the citizen is a sovereign and subject. As a sovereign he enacts laws, as a subject he obeys them. The corner-stone of a republic is equality and its prime essentiality is equality.
The Sanskritologists believe that the republics first came to India. The Lichhvis and the Mallas of the pre-Mauryan India of the Buddhist times were the earliest republics of the time. Even much before Lichhavis and Mallas, there were Panchayat republics in the Vedic Age. The Vedic Sabha and the Vedic Samiti were not only elected but also representative in character with full voting rights to women. These institutions were probing the conduct of kings, abuse of power by the powerful and misdeeds of the ministers. The 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments derive their inspiration from the village republics of ancient India. The Greek and the Roman city-states were different from the Indian republics known for their high political morality and ethical standards besides people's participation in governance. The Greek General, Alexander was surprised by observing the tough resistance by the Indian small republics. He realized the strength of those small republics, the village Panchayats whom no invader could subdue. Almost all the foreign travellers from Magesthenes to Fahein, Hieun Tsang and Alberuni paid glowing tributes to the resilience of these small states which upheld the integrity of the nation and contributed their full might to the march of the Indian culture. In the ancient republics of India there was constant communication between the Government, the legislature and the citizen.
The Indian republic stood not only for welfare but also for human development. The concept of limited monarchy also arose from the Indian soil. There was no such thing as monarchy in ancient India. When we became independent in 1947, we abolished the value of sovereignty cantered in the far-off person of the king of England but not the value of sovereignty itself which our Constitution gave its people. In our country there is equal opportunity for all right from the ancient times. In the similar way, there is always the freedom of speech. The Guru-Shishya Parampara while acknowledging the authority of the Guru admitted the right of dissent of the Shishya. Budha tells his followers "Don't follow me blindly. Verify the things for yourself". The verification of knowledge and transparency of facts is Vedanta. Constitution of India is Indian in spirit and Indian in content. It is some total of the best in Indian culture which is many centuries old. Before adoption of the Constitution of India i.e. on November 25, 1949, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and the architect of the Indian Constitution said that we should not be content with the only political democracy. He said that the idea behind the Indian Constitution was not only holding elections, it was the social and economic democracy. Our political democracy should be of social type. Political democracy cannot last unless social democracy lies at its base. Social democracy means, a way of life which recognises equality, liberty and fraternity as the principles of life. These three principles should not be treated separately. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to leave one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It is this democracy to which India is committed culturally as well as constitutionally.
The constitution of India came into force on 26th January, 1950 and India became a republic. The Indian constitution is constituted of 395 articles and twelve schedules. With that the Government of India Act 1935 and the Indian Independence Act 1947 were repealed. The soul of the Constitution lies in its Directive Principles. The Directive Principles are directives to the State about its objectives, goals, and the line on which it is to grow. If there are Fundamental Rights, there are Fundamental Duties also for every citizen of the country. In ancient India, the democracy was a free gift of its rulers to the people, while in modern India, the people themselves resolve to constitute India into sovereign, socialist, democratic republic, secular and to secure for all its citizens social, economic and political justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of opportunity and status and to promote the fraternity among the people assuring the dignity, unity and integrity of the nation. One of the Directive Principles of the State Policy enunciated in the Constitution of India is the separation of the judicial powers from the stateside Executive Powers. Judiciary is the shield of innocence and impartial guardian of every private civil right. Judiciary plays a vital role in a federal system. At an apex is the Supreme Court of India. Then there are High Courts at the state level and a subordinate court below them. The power is transferred to the successive governments. We have the largest number of voters in the world. Now the voting age is 18 years of old. The electronic voting has been successively introduced and every voter has an identity card. The multi-party system has contributed significantly to the growth of opposition in India. The Parliament Committee System has ensured the accountability of the Government. The Comptroller and Auditor General Annual Reports keep the Government alert and responsive. In our Constitution there are Group Insurance and Welfare Fund schemes. The laws passed by the Parliament and the state legislatures provide social security and social justice to the people. Our labour laws provide the medical care, maternity protection, provident fund injury compensation and pension for the industrial workers.
The 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Constitution have heralded a new chapter in the process of democratic decentralisation. By making regular elections to the Panchayat Raj/Municipal bodies mandatory, these institutions have been given due place in the democratic set-up of the country. Secularism is the symbol of our composite culture. In our country it is both tradition and commitment. It is observed that the Indian secularism is different than the western model. While the western secularism rejects all religious systems, Indian secularism accepts all religions. While the western secularism stands for improving material conditions of the human beings, in the Indian model it is the mind which rules the matter. The five pillars of our present Constitution are Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Justice and Secularism which were inserted in its Preamble as a result of the Constitution (42 Amenment) Act, 1976. Education and culture, the two most effective components of human development have been completely democratised. Education is the fundamental right of every child in India up to the age of 14.Culture which was a preserve of the last six decades ago is the concern of the common man today. The benefits of the Republic have reached more than 94% of our country children and adults through 'Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan'-a scheme to remove illiteracy and elementary education. For the average Indian Republic means the onward march of the Indian civilization, the cultural continuity of India, its integrity and solidarity. Democracy in India is not mere casting of franchise, holding elections and declaring results. It is a way of life leading to the reorganisation of civil order. Now the people in India are anxious to participate in the processes which shape their lives and destinies.
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