India's Democratic Constitution

Jawaharlal Nehru signing the Indian constitution in 1950. Wikimedia

INDIA joined the liberal forces of the world on January 26, 1950, as a sovereign democratic republic. Under her new constitution, enacted two months earlier, not only does she owe no allegiance to any ruling house, but she has wiped away that miscellaneous collection of ruling princes, chieftains, estate-holders and whatnots that disfigured her till 1947. Had she become a federation under the Government of India Act of 1935, there would have been 568 units in the area now in the Indian Union, 559 of them under princes and princelings. Today there are only 16 units of the federation and not one of them is under the rule of a hereditary prince. Though a republic, India has been welcomed as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the British Parliament has passed an act allowing her nationals full rights of British citizenship in Great Britain. She is a sovereign state espousing international causes in her own right and fighting battles for humanity and peace after her own fashion.

India is not only a republic but a democratic republic. All her adult citizens possess the vote, she has outlawed inequality of sexes, her constitution recognizes no class barriers, her polity guarantees freedom of opinion, assembly and association. A rational distribution of national income is an avowed object of her endeavor. Her railways, telephones, telegraphs and broadcasting services have been nationalized. During the last three years she has, over a large area, made the tillers of the soil proprietors of the land they cultivate. If she is going slowly in the nationalization of her means of production just now, that is because she does not believe in biting off more than she can chew.

Though a republic under a President, her form of government is parliamentary. Her President, governors and Rajapramukhs will be constitutional heads rather than effective chiefs of the state, and her governments will depend upon parliamentary majorities in the lower houses, under the leadership of her prime minister in the Union and of the chief

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