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Thursday, November 26, 2015



November 26, 2015

A callow youth of barely sixteen years on the day the Constitution of India was signed (November 26, 1949), I was earnest enough to follow the day to day proceedings of the Constituent Assembly assiduously, if not with absorption   I still remember some scribblings of mine in what we used to call, ‘the rough notebook’. One is expected to edit and copy the refined version in a fair copy notebook; the time could not be found. I am resuming that task sixty-five years later. A series of postings I contemplate; much depends on the feedback. Writing in perceived vacuum is a hurt.

I begin this series this day to celebrate the Anniversary of an event of everlasting National importance and also to congratulate Professor V.Nagarajan for commencing this Initiative, this day. Given the interlude of six decades and more, personal reminiscences will intervene, as witnessing the good, bad and ugly amendments to the Constitution was also my remit, as a concerned citizen. I begin the series with an Eulogy to a forgotten soul, followed by an irreverent flip side comment on the way the  Constitution failed the Nation.

The Eulogy 

I deliver an Eulogy, preferring that to a mere tribute; it looks as though we lost Sir Benegal Narsing Rau ICS (1887-1953) recently. Given the Nation’s immortality, this is no surprise. An eminent jurists of his time, he helped draft the constitutions of Burma in 1947 and India in 1950. B. N. Rau was not a member of the assembly but was, perhaps. the important kingpin in the framing of the Constitution. He was appointed as the Constitutional Adviser to the Constituent Assembly and was  responsible for the general structure of its democratic framework of the Constitution and prepared its original draft. The Constituent Assembly's resolution setting up the Drafting Committee, under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar, declared that it was being set up to 

"Scrutinise the Draft of the text of the Constitution prepared by the Constitutional Adviser giving effect to the decisions taken already in the Assembly and including all matters ancillary thereto or which have to be provided in such a Constitution, and to submit to the Assembly for consideration the text of the Draft Constitution as revised by the Committee." 

There already was a Draft in existence when this Committee was set up. Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly  before signing the Constitution on 26 November 1949, thanked Rau for having 

"worked honorarily all the time that he was here, assisting the assembly not only with his knowledge and erudition but also enabled the other members to perform their duties with thoroughness and intelligence by supplying them with the material on which they could work."  

This day is the Remembrance Day for B.N. Rau, the architect of our Constitution.

On the Flip-side

We have the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles enshrined in our Constitution. The latter is no less important for ensuring a Good Life to R.K.Lakshman’s citizen. But it is not enforceable. By relegating the right to Basic Education to one and all, this fundamental right to Life was compromised. Many generations lost out. The poor was let down. Perhaps, the well-meaning constitution fathers were from such an elite and educated community that they could not see the flip-side of the coin.
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