(Indian Polity) Nature of the Indian Constitution & Basic Values
The Preamble to any Constitution is a brief introductory statement that conveys the guiding principles of the document. It is like an introduction or preface of a book. As an introduction, it is not a part of the contents but it explains the purposes and objectives with which the document has been written. So is the case with the ‘Preamble’ which serves as an introduction to the Indian Constitution.
TEXT OF THE PREAMBLE
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
- JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
- LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
- EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all;
- FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
- IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty- sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”
The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 amended the Preamble and added the words ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’ and Integrity’ to the Preamble.
NATURE OF THE PREAMBLE
The Preamble is non-justiciable in nature, like the Directive Principles of State Policy, and cannot be enforced in a court of law. It can neither provide substantive power (definite and real power) to the three organs of the state, nor limit their power under the provision of the Constitution.
BASIC VALUES IN THE PREAMBLE
The value expressed in the Preamble are sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, republican character, justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, human dignity and the unit and interity of the Nation. In addition to these, our Constitution promotes respect for diversity and minority rights, accommodates regional and political assertions through Federalism and foster international peace and cooperation.
1. We, the People: “We, the People” is the first and foremost value of the Constitution of India. The Constitution and the polity of this nation start with these words. The whole edifice is for the people, made up of ‘We’ – not the individual. The words ‘We the people …..were not empty rhetoric; they were earnestly inscribed to recognize and respect India’s political sovereign – the people. The highest rank of a person in a person in a democratic country is to be its citizen. The words “We the people” signify not only the moral and historical insight of founding fathers but they serve to reaffirm they are the source of all constitutional authority and that test of governance is to be measured with people’s well-being.
2. Sovereignty: A State is ‘Sovereign’ where there resides within itself a supreme and absolute power acknowledging no superior. Sovereign power is that which is absolute and uncontrolled. Being sovereign means being the supreme authority in its own sphere and having complete political freedom. By declaring India as a sovereign entity, the Preamble emphasizes that India is independent and is free to determine for herself without any external interference. There is none within her to challenge her authority Only this attribute of sovereignty has made her a member in the comity of nations.
3. Socialism: The word ‘Socialism’ was not present in the Original Constitution. It was inserted by 42nd Amendment Act of the Constitution in 1976. By the word socialism the constitution means the achievement of socialistic ends through democratic means i.e.’democratic socialism’. It aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.
4. Secularism: The term ‘Secular’ too was added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976. By proclaiming India as a secular State, the Constitutional means that India is neutral in religious matter and treats all religions impartially. The ideal of secularism in India context impiles that our country is not guided by any religion or any religious considerations.
5. Democracy: ‘Democracy’ is associated with the freedom of choice of the people. It is a method of government by discussion and persuasion. A democratic society is always open to new ideas and criticism equally. It does not bind the society with any one mode of living or preference. A democratic value is about openness and equality and right of every individual to be. The ideal of a democratic republic enshrined in the Preamble has been best secured by the Constitution by the adoption of universal adult suffrage by providing complete equality between the sexes not only before the law but also in the political sphere and providing a set fundamental rights.
The term democracy as used in the Preamble not only means political democracy, but also social and economic democracy. In fact, political democracy serves to achieve social and economic democracy. Nehru said, “Democracy has been spoken of chiefly in the past, as political democracy, roughly represented by every person having a vote. But a vote by itself does not represent very much to a person who is down and out.
6. Republic: Republic means a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated President rather than a monarch. In India the head of the State is President and he is elected by the people for a fixed term of five years.