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HVK Archives: Two editorials at the time of the beginning of the Republic in 1950

Two editorials at the time of the beginning of the Republic in 1950 - The Times of India

Editorial ()
26 January 1950

Title : The republic of India
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Times of India
Date : January 26, 1950

With the proclamation of the Indian Republic this country achieves
a status unique both for herself and in relation to the
Commonwealth. Never in her long and ancient history has India been
a Republic and never before has the Commonwealth, whose like is the
Crown, admitted into her comity a Republican unit. Thus India in a
vital sense registers today a the positive achievements which stand
to the credit of the new Republic few rival the feat of having
evolved a Constitution within less than three years of the
attainment of freedom. It was been said that the comprehensive
written constitutions of the modern world are all the children of
revolution. France's first revolutionary constitution of 1791 "put
monarchy in chains" and this was followed by the Republican
declarations of 1798 and 1795. Earlier the Federal Constitution of
the United States emerged from the protracted Philadelphia
Convention of 1787. India's Constitution-makers have drawn largely
from the American and Canadian models whose inspiration again was
British precept and practice, notably the Instrument of Government
of 1653. The architects of the American many eyes, primarily those
of Locke, with his contractual concept of Government; of
Black-stone, who gave it a strong legalistic veneer; and of
Montesquieu, who propounded the separation of powers. Lord Bryce
has described the American Constitution of 1787 as "superior in
technique of all subsequent written constitution." Posterity has
yet to register its verdict on the Indian document but within its
compendious and comprehensive framework it embodies much
painstaking labour and thought.

It is well to remember today that the idea of an elected
Constituent Assembly for India was first conceived by Mahatma
Gandhi as far back as 1922. "Swaraj", he prophetically declared,
"will not be a free gift of the British Parliament, it will be a
declaration of India's full self-expression." Thirteen years later
the idea was officially sponsored by the Indian National Congress
and on March 15, 1946, Mr. Attlee, on behalf of the British
Government, acknowledged the right of Indian to devise a
Constitution of her own making. "Is it any wonder," asked the
British Prime Minister, "that today India claims as a nation of 400
million people that has twice sent her sons to die for freedom that
she should herself have freedom to decide her own destiny? What
form of government is to replace the present regime is for India to
decide, but out desire is to help her to set up forthwith the
machinery for making that decision."

India's Republican Constitution enshrines the principle of the
sovereignty of the people in its preamble. It also enunciates the
doctrine of a secular State. Undue legalism is among the major
blights of federalism but the new Constitution has the advantage of
being remarkably flexible. Though a formidable and comprehensive
document embracing in its range the structure of government
fundamental right, directive principles of State policy, the
Services the Federal Judicature and the High Court, it avoids the
clumsy and complicated process of convention and referendum and has
adopted instead the simpler process of amendment. The assumption of
complete control by the Central Government and the Central
Legislature in periods of emergency is provided for and the federal
structure can thus be converted without any labour or expensive
procedure into a unitary organisation. Civic and social equality
are also assured by the Constitution which statutorily abolishes
untouchability and assures individual liberty and religious
freedom. Dr Ambedkar, one of the principal architects of this
historic document, has described the constitutional remedies it
provides to enforce and safeguard individual rights as the "heart
and soul of the whole Constitution." Thus India enters into her new
existence as a Republic under the best constitutional auspices. The
people's rights are adequately safeguarded; but rights connote
responsibilities and in India's interests it is essential, more
particularly in the early formative years, to place the emphasis
more on responsibilities than on rights. The Government have
equally the same duty. Most of the political hurdles have been
cleared but the clouds still lower menacingly on the economic
horison. In unity lies strength. Through the united efforts of
Government and people and their united co-operation, the high hopes
which the Republican Constitution embodies are assured of

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