71st Anniversary of the Constitution of India


The Preamble constitutes the soul of the Constitution: Justice Vikramaditya Prasad
“Mahatma Gandhi is an experimental scientist who had his impact on every aspect of a person’s life and touched the soul of the nation when he reached out to the last person of the society”, said Justice (Retd) Shri Vikramaditya Prasad. He further added, “Mahatma Gandhi’s concern for persons who are in the last row of the society, helped the drafting members of the Constituent Assembly while drafting the Constitution of India”.
Justice Vikramaditya Prasad, who retired as a judge from the High Court of Jharkhand said this while delivering the key-note address at the webinar on “Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Constitution of India” on November 26, 2020 organized by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS) in association with the Gandhi Peace Club of National University of Study in Research in Law (NUSRL), Ranchi as a celebration of the 71st Constitution Day.
Addressing a gathering of almost 79 students, volunteers, faculty members of NUSRL, lawyers and several other people who joined the webinar, Justice Vikramaditya Prasad said the impact of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and vision can be seen reflecting in the Constitution of India, as Gandhiji’s ideas of all aspects of human life, from socialism, to sarvodaya, to welfare of women and other issues.
Informing that the first constitution drafted by Mahatma Gandhi was princely stately of Aundhia in Maharashtra, which had 72 villages, Justice Vikramaditya Prasad said that the prince of Aundhia approached Mahatma Gandhi to draft a constitution who agreed to do so on condition which the prince had to accept. Justice Prasad said, “The prince met Gandhiji in Sewagram Ashram and it as Gandhiji who set the conditions that the prince would live like a villager in a hut for ten years; spend only Rs 50/- per month for individual expenses; wear cloth sewn in the handloom in the village, which the prince agreed from 1939 to finally 1948 when Aundhia was merged with the Indian Republic”, which implied that even a king has to live like a villager to understand the pulse of the state.
Referring to Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s remarks that Mahtama Gandhi’s spirit is hovering at the Constituent Assembly when he didn’t find him there, Justice Vikramaditya Prasad said that both the essence of Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties when critically examined has ideas of constructive programmes reflected in various sections of the Indian Constitution.
Speaking about the essence of the Preamble, Justice Vikramaditya Prasad said, “Even if the entire Constitution is kept aside, and if people honestly abide by all the words in the Preamble, there will not be a need to amend the Constitution again, for it contains the essential features of the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi which he always advocated for, i.e. ‘Justice’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Socialism’. This is the reason why the Preamble constitutes the soul of the Constitution”.
He concluded that the greatest challenge is how to apply the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi practically and apply it carefully for, what he said, Experiments must go on; scientific principles are lasting, but technology changes. But the need is that citizens should be worthy of their rights first”.
In his introductory remarks, Prof. Kesava Rao Vurrakula, Vice Chancellor of NUSRL spoke on the two important aspects of the Constitution – The Preamble and Fundamental Rights and how they are essentially linked to Fundamental Duties which all citizens must abide by in all their sincerity. He spoke of the charter of duties and stressed on the unity of the entire nation. Speaking about ‘gram swaraj’, he laid emphasis on political sovereignty. He spoke about concepts of ‘sarvodaya’ and shared his ideas on the economic, social and secular order which the Constitution empowers. Saying that the “Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on the Constitution of India is profound”, Prof. Kesava Rao Varrakulla said that the core values preached, practiced and experimented by Mahatma Gandhi are enshrined in Article 50 of the Constitution of India which speaks of governance, harmony and brotherhood, truth (satya) and unity.
In his address during the webinar, Shri Biraja Mahapatra, Founder Director of Build India Group, a civil society organization and senior lawyer of the Supreme Court of India while explaining the historicity of the framing of the Indian Constitution, also threw light on the Constitution Day and spoke of the role of stalwarts like Sardar Patel in unifying India by bringing together the princely states and the role of Dr. B R Ambedkar in drafting the Indian Constitution. He pointed out that the prime issue that surfaced at that point of time was the issue of what would happen to the status of common people of India and said that “The significance of the Constituent Assemble and the Preamble guaranteed that all Indians became ‘bonafide’ owners of the country and that the citizens have a duty to run the country”, adding, “The country is an extension of home and the citizens have a duty to run it in the building of a nation.
Referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on Indian Constitution, Shri Biraja Mahapatra pointed after 1947 on dissolving the Congress and formation of a “Lok Sevak Sangha’. He further pointed that Mahatma Gandhi laid emphasis on the Panchayat Raj System because Gandhiji believed in the minimum interference of the kings. Quoting the Panchatantras, Shri Mahapatra emphasized on the essence of Gram Sabhas which promulgate the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi on Gram Swaraj at the grassroots level, the benefits of which reach the last person.
Talking about Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties, Shri Biraja Mahapatra categorically emphasized the need for understanding one’s responsibilities towards the country. “To be a good Indian, one has to be a good citizen”, he concluded.
Earlier, while delivering the welcoming address, Director GSDS, Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan referred to his reading of the deliberations of the Constitution of India and said that while the influence of Mahatma Gandhi is not directly felt on the Constitution, the issues of rights and duties that influenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi during his journey to South Africa when he was thrown out of the train despite having a first class ticket, has been ingrained in the leaders, who during the drafting procedures and deliberations of the Indian Constitution kept the essence of human rights and dignity at the prime level and said that the Directive Principles of State Policy are the governing principles that aim to create social and economic conditions under which the citizens can lead a good life, besides aiming towards establishing social and economic democracy through a welfare state, which ultimately benefits the common man.
He further pointed that the “Directive Principles of State Policy, which though not justiciable, are 'fundamental in governance of the country', and it is the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws and further promoting the welfare of people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order, in which justice-social, economic and political-shall form in all institutions of national life.
During the webinar, at 11.00 A.M. the Preamble to the Indian Constitution was read out in Hindi and English. GSDS officials joined in reading the Preamble in both the campuses in Gandhi Darshan, Rajghat and Gandhi Smriti at Tees January Marg.
The webinar concluded with the vote of thanks by Dr. Satyavrata Mishra, Assistant Professor of Law and Member Gandhi Peace Club, NUSRL, Ranchi. Shri Rajdeep Pathak, Programme Executive GSDS proposed the vote of thanks on behalf of the GSDS.