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Issue No.: 571 | January 2015
 

Constitution – an Instrument of Governance of A Nation: Austinian and Ambedkarian Perspectives

B. N. Mehrish
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Granville Austin (1927 – 2014) passed away on July 6, 2014. He was the most celebrated constitutional historian. At Oxford University, Austin developed an interest in the Indian Constitution. His book, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation (1966) has clarity of thought according to Arvind Elangovan. His second book, Working a Democratic Constitution: the Indian Experience (1999) "has its astute insights, perceptive judgments and gives an extensively researched account” of India’s Constitution at work. He has provided a vivid account of the constraints that guided the vision of the framers of the Indian Constitution. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2011 by the government of India for his unique contribution as an interpreter of the Constitution of India.

The first President, Rajendra Prasad, signed the Constitution of the Indian Republic in November 1949 passed by the Constituent Assembly. For Austin, the spirit of the Constitution of India was the "indelible faith in Indian nationalism. Austin argued that the voice of the framers of the Constitution was to foster the goal of social revolution. Austin quoted Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech in the Constituent Assembly on "tryst with destiny”. He highlighted the salient features of the Constitution, fundamental rights, directive principles, cooperative federalism as being primarily oriented towards the achievement of the social revolution. Parts III and IV of the Constitution are the "conscience”. The Supreme Court justices have cited Austin’s books on the Indian Constitution in several landmark judgments – Golak Nath case (1967), Kesavananda Bharti case (1973). 

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution and the Chairman of the Drafting Committee also observed, like Austin, that the Constitution was the finest expression of Indian nationalism. Dr. Ambedkar was by any reckoning one of the principal makers of modern India. He had a multi faceted and eclectic personality. He was a professor of political economy and a reputed lawyer. Dr. Ambedkar is remembered as the emancipator of the millions of downtrodden people. India’s post-1991 economic reforms constitute a major and decisive break with its post-Independence economic policy.

Dr. Ambedkar wanted effective intervention of the State in economic affairs of the country. He was a staunch advocate of economic planning. He wanted all basic heavy industries to be owned by the State in the interest of the nation and wanted the rest of the industries to be left to the private enterprises to secure benefits of the innovative and enterprising skills and abilities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on 15 August 2014 "signified his humility and indicating an inclusive approach” (Freedom first, November 2014). The Congress has "a pathological hated” for Modi and the BJP generally.

In his speech to on 15th August, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked the slogans ‘Swachh Bharat’ and Jan Dhan scheme designed for the poor. Modi, during his visit to the United States, praised Martin Luther King for his movement to protect the civil rights of the Black. Recently Modi proclaimed he rejected is "Make in India” vision. Modi rejected Dr. Ambedkar’s advocacy of planned economy, announced the dissolution of the Planning Commission, substituted it with ‘Think Tank’ relevant to present realities, and called for "Minimum Government, Maximum Governance.

Some steps being taken by Modi reflects his leadership to resolve the much delayed restructuring of the bureaucracy to make governance easy, effective and economical. He proposes to fill several senior positions by short term contracts, enabling a lateral entry of technocrats, professionals and entrepreneurs – real delivery agents rather than ‘gate-keeping babus’. Department have proliferated.

Jawaharlal Nehru, when he was asked what he considered to be his greatest failure as India’s first Prime Minister, had replied "I could not change the administration; it is still a colonial administration”. There is hope that Modi will grasp the nettle and change the most corrupt system of Indian polity. Prime Minister Modi has announced that 25 December 2014 – birthday of Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee – will be celebrated as Good Governance Day.

DR. B. N. MEHRISH , Retired Professor of Politics, 
University of Mumbai.
 Now a Gurgaon resident.
brijesh.mehrish@gmail.com
 
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Obituary

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The Tibetans’ Struggle for Freedom

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Reflections

Constitution – an Instrument of Governance of A Nation: Austinian and Ambedkarian Perspectives

B. N. Mehrish
 

Some Thoughts on Our Judiciary and the Media

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Justice Delayed

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Threats to Upright Bureaucrats and the state of Investigative Journalism

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The Jhagada Dals

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