NCERT Textbook - Constitution : Why and How? Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 11

Created by: Uk Tiwary

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Constitution : Why and How? Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


1
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
Chapter One
CONSTITUTION:
WHY AND HOW?
INTRODUCTION
This book is about the working of the Indian Constitution. In the chapters that
follow, you will read information about various aspects of the working of our
Constitution. You will learn about the various institutions of the government in
our country and their relationship with each other.
But before you begin to read about elections, governments, and presidents
and prime ministers, it is necessary to understand that the entire structure of the
government and the various principles that bind the institutions of government
have their origin in the Constitution of India.
After studying this chapter, you  will learn:
± what a constitution means;
± what a constitution does to the society;
± how constitutions govern the allocation of power in society; and
± what was the way in which the Constitution of India was made.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 2


1
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
Chapter One
CONSTITUTION:
WHY AND HOW?
INTRODUCTION
This book is about the working of the Indian Constitution. In the chapters that
follow, you will read information about various aspects of the working of our
Constitution. You will learn about the various institutions of the government in
our country and their relationship with each other.
But before you begin to read about elections, governments, and presidents
and prime ministers, it is necessary to understand that the entire structure of the
government and the various principles that bind the institutions of government
have their origin in the Constitution of India.
After studying this chapter, you  will learn:
± what a constitution means;
± what a constitution does to the society;
± how constitutions govern the allocation of power in society; and
± what was the way in which the Constitution of India was made.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
2
Indian Constitution at Work
WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION?
What is a constitution? What are its functions? What role does it
perform for a society? How does a constitution relate to our daily
existence? Answering these questions is not as difficult as you might
think.
Constitution allows coordination and
assurance
Imagine yourself to be a member of a
reasonably large group. Further imagine that
this group has the following characteristics.
The members of this group are diverse in
various ways. They have different religious
allegiances: some are Hindus, some are
Muslims, some Christians and some perhaps
profess no religion at all. They are also varied
in many different respects: they
pursue different professions, have
different abilities, have different
hobbies, different tastes in
everything from films to books.
Some are rich and some are poor.
Some are old, some young.
Imagine further that members of
this group are likely to have disputes over various aspects
of life: How much property should one be allowed to own?
Should it be compulsory that every child be sent to school
or should  the parents be allowed to decide? How much
should this group spend on its safety and security? Or
should it build more parks instead? Should the group be
allowed to discriminate against some of its members?
Every question will elicit a variety of answers from different
people. But, for all their diversity, this group has to live
together. They are dependent upon each other in various ways. They
require the cooperation of each other. What will enable the group to
live together peacefully?
Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my
colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this
apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or
town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too?
This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much
like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my
village. village. village. village. village.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 3


1
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
Chapter One
CONSTITUTION:
WHY AND HOW?
INTRODUCTION
This book is about the working of the Indian Constitution. In the chapters that
follow, you will read information about various aspects of the working of our
Constitution. You will learn about the various institutions of the government in
our country and their relationship with each other.
But before you begin to read about elections, governments, and presidents
and prime ministers, it is necessary to understand that the entire structure of the
government and the various principles that bind the institutions of government
have their origin in the Constitution of India.
After studying this chapter, you  will learn:
± what a constitution means;
± what a constitution does to the society;
± how constitutions govern the allocation of power in society; and
± what was the way in which the Constitution of India was made.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
2
Indian Constitution at Work
WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION?
What is a constitution? What are its functions? What role does it
perform for a society? How does a constitution relate to our daily
existence? Answering these questions is not as difficult as you might
think.
Constitution allows coordination and
assurance
Imagine yourself to be a member of a
reasonably large group. Further imagine that
this group has the following characteristics.
The members of this group are diverse in
various ways. They have different religious
allegiances: some are Hindus, some are
Muslims, some Christians and some perhaps
profess no religion at all. They are also varied
in many different respects: they
pursue different professions, have
different abilities, have different
hobbies, different tastes in
everything from films to books.
Some are rich and some are poor.
Some are old, some young.
Imagine further that members of
this group are likely to have disputes over various aspects
of life: How much property should one be allowed to own?
Should it be compulsory that every child be sent to school
or should  the parents be allowed to decide? How much
should this group spend on its safety and security? Or
should it build more parks instead? Should the group be
allowed to discriminate against some of its members?
Every question will elicit a variety of answers from different
people. But, for all their diversity, this group has to live
together. They are dependent upon each other in various ways. They
require the cooperation of each other. What will enable the group to
live together peacefully?
Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my
colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this
apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or
town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too?
This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much
like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my
village. village. village. village. village.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
3
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
One may say that perhaps members of this group can live together
if they can agree on some basic rules. Why will the group need certain
basic rules? Think of what would happen in the absence of some
basic rules. Every individual would be insecure simply because they
would not know what members of this group could do to each other,
who could claim rights over what. Any group will need some basic
rules that are publicly promulgated and known to all members of
that group to achieve a minimal degree of coordination. But these
rules must not only be known, they must also be enforceable.  If
citizens have no assurance that others will follow these rules, they
will themselves have no reason to follow these rules. Saying that the
rules are legally enforceable gives an assurance to everybody that
others will follow these, for if they do not do so, they will be punished.
The first function of a constitution is to provide a set of
basic rules that allow for minimal coordination amongst
members of a society.
Activity
Enact the thought experiment of this section in the
classroom. The entire class should discuss and arrive
at some decisions that would apply to everyone for
this entire session. The decision could be about:
± How would the class representatives be chosen?
± Which decisions will the representative be able to
take on behalf of the entire class?
± Are there some decisions that the class
representative cannot take without consulting the
entire class?
± You can add any other items to this list (collection
of common kitty for the class, organisation of picnic
and trips, sharing of common resources, …) as long
as everyone agrees to it. Make sure that you
include those subjects that have led to any
differences in the past.
± How to revise these decisions in case you
need to?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 4


1
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
Chapter One
CONSTITUTION:
WHY AND HOW?
INTRODUCTION
This book is about the working of the Indian Constitution. In the chapters that
follow, you will read information about various aspects of the working of our
Constitution. You will learn about the various institutions of the government in
our country and their relationship with each other.
But before you begin to read about elections, governments, and presidents
and prime ministers, it is necessary to understand that the entire structure of the
government and the various principles that bind the institutions of government
have their origin in the Constitution of India.
After studying this chapter, you  will learn:
± what a constitution means;
± what a constitution does to the society;
± how constitutions govern the allocation of power in society; and
± what was the way in which the Constitution of India was made.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
2
Indian Constitution at Work
WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION?
What is a constitution? What are its functions? What role does it
perform for a society? How does a constitution relate to our daily
existence? Answering these questions is not as difficult as you might
think.
Constitution allows coordination and
assurance
Imagine yourself to be a member of a
reasonably large group. Further imagine that
this group has the following characteristics.
The members of this group are diverse in
various ways. They have different religious
allegiances: some are Hindus, some are
Muslims, some Christians and some perhaps
profess no religion at all. They are also varied
in many different respects: they
pursue different professions, have
different abilities, have different
hobbies, different tastes in
everything from films to books.
Some are rich and some are poor.
Some are old, some young.
Imagine further that members of
this group are likely to have disputes over various aspects
of life: How much property should one be allowed to own?
Should it be compulsory that every child be sent to school
or should  the parents be allowed to decide? How much
should this group spend on its safety and security? Or
should it build more parks instead? Should the group be
allowed to discriminate against some of its members?
Every question will elicit a variety of answers from different
people. But, for all their diversity, this group has to live
together. They are dependent upon each other in various ways. They
require the cooperation of each other. What will enable the group to
live together peacefully?
Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my
colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this
apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or
town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too?
This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much
like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my
village. village. village. village. village.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
3
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
One may say that perhaps members of this group can live together
if they can agree on some basic rules. Why will the group need certain
basic rules? Think of what would happen in the absence of some
basic rules. Every individual would be insecure simply because they
would not know what members of this group could do to each other,
who could claim rights over what. Any group will need some basic
rules that are publicly promulgated and known to all members of
that group to achieve a minimal degree of coordination. But these
rules must not only be known, they must also be enforceable.  If
citizens have no assurance that others will follow these rules, they
will themselves have no reason to follow these rules. Saying that the
rules are legally enforceable gives an assurance to everybody that
others will follow these, for if they do not do so, they will be punished.
The first function of a constitution is to provide a set of
basic rules that allow for minimal coordination amongst
members of a society.
Activity
Enact the thought experiment of this section in the
classroom. The entire class should discuss and arrive
at some decisions that would apply to everyone for
this entire session. The decision could be about:
± How would the class representatives be chosen?
± Which decisions will the representative be able to
take on behalf of the entire class?
± Are there some decisions that the class
representative cannot take without consulting the
entire class?
± You can add any other items to this list (collection
of common kitty for the class, organisation of picnic
and trips, sharing of common resources, …) as long
as everyone agrees to it. Make sure that you
include those subjects that have led to any
differences in the past.
± How to revise these decisions in case you
need to?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
4
Indian Constitution at Work
± Write down all these decisions on a paper and put
it up on the notice board. Which problems did you
encounter in this decision? Were there differences
among different students? How did you resolve
these differences? Did the entire class gain
something from this exercise?
Specification of decision making powers
A constitution is a body of fundamental principles according to which
a state is constituted or governed. But what should these
fundamental rules be? And what makes them fundamental? Well,
the first question you will have to decide is who gets to decide what
the laws governing the society should be? You may want rule X, but
others may want rule Y. How do we decide whose rules or preferences
should govern us? You may think the rules you want everyone to
live by are the best; but others think that their rules are the best.
How do we resolve this dispute? So even before you decide what
rules should govern this group you have to decide: Who gets to
decide?
The constitution has to provide an answer to this question. It
specifies the basic allocation of power in a society. It decides who
gets to decide what the laws will be. In principle, this question, who
gets to decide, can be answered in many ways: in a monarchical
constitution, a monarch decides; in some constitutions like the old
Soviet Union, one single party was given the power to decide. But in
democratic constitutions, broadly speaking, the people get to decide.
But this matter is not so simple. Because even if you answer that the
people should decide, it will not answer the question: how should
the people decide? For something to be law, should everyone agree
to it? Should  the people directly vote on each matter as the ancient
Greeks did? Or should the people express their preferences by electing
representatives? But if the people act through their representatives,
how should these representatives be elected? How many should there
be?
In the Indian Constitution for example, it is specified that in most
instances, Parliament gets to decide laws and policies, and that
Parliament itself be organised in a particular manner. Before
identifying what the law in any given society is, you have to identify
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 5


1
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
Chapter One
CONSTITUTION:
WHY AND HOW?
INTRODUCTION
This book is about the working of the Indian Constitution. In the chapters that
follow, you will read information about various aspects of the working of our
Constitution. You will learn about the various institutions of the government in
our country and their relationship with each other.
But before you begin to read about elections, governments, and presidents
and prime ministers, it is necessary to understand that the entire structure of the
government and the various principles that bind the institutions of government
have their origin in the Constitution of India.
After studying this chapter, you  will learn:
± what a constitution means;
± what a constitution does to the society;
± how constitutions govern the allocation of power in society; and
± what was the way in which the Constitution of India was made.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
2
Indian Constitution at Work
WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION?
What is a constitution? What are its functions? What role does it
perform for a society? How does a constitution relate to our daily
existence? Answering these questions is not as difficult as you might
think.
Constitution allows coordination and
assurance
Imagine yourself to be a member of a
reasonably large group. Further imagine that
this group has the following characteristics.
The members of this group are diverse in
various ways. They have different religious
allegiances: some are Hindus, some are
Muslims, some Christians and some perhaps
profess no religion at all. They are also varied
in many different respects: they
pursue different professions, have
different abilities, have different
hobbies, different tastes in
everything from films to books.
Some are rich and some are poor.
Some are old, some young.
Imagine further that members of
this group are likely to have disputes over various aspects
of life: How much property should one be allowed to own?
Should it be compulsory that every child be sent to school
or should  the parents be allowed to decide? How much
should this group spend on its safety and security? Or
should it build more parks instead? Should the group be
allowed to discriminate against some of its members?
Every question will elicit a variety of answers from different
people. But, for all their diversity, this group has to live
together. They are dependent upon each other in various ways. They
require the cooperation of each other. What will enable the group to
live together peacefully?
Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my Yes, this could be my
colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this colony as well! Does this
apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or apply to your village or
town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too? town or colony too?
This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much This group is very much
like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my like the people of my
village. village. village. village. village.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
3
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
One may say that perhaps members of this group can live together
if they can agree on some basic rules. Why will the group need certain
basic rules? Think of what would happen in the absence of some
basic rules. Every individual would be insecure simply because they
would not know what members of this group could do to each other,
who could claim rights over what. Any group will need some basic
rules that are publicly promulgated and known to all members of
that group to achieve a minimal degree of coordination. But these
rules must not only be known, they must also be enforceable.  If
citizens have no assurance that others will follow these rules, they
will themselves have no reason to follow these rules. Saying that the
rules are legally enforceable gives an assurance to everybody that
others will follow these, for if they do not do so, they will be punished.
The first function of a constitution is to provide a set of
basic rules that allow for minimal coordination amongst
members of a society.
Activity
Enact the thought experiment of this section in the
classroom. The entire class should discuss and arrive
at some decisions that would apply to everyone for
this entire session. The decision could be about:
± How would the class representatives be chosen?
± Which decisions will the representative be able to
take on behalf of the entire class?
± Are there some decisions that the class
representative cannot take without consulting the
entire class?
± You can add any other items to this list (collection
of common kitty for the class, organisation of picnic
and trips, sharing of common resources, …) as long
as everyone agrees to it. Make sure that you
include those subjects that have led to any
differences in the past.
± How to revise these decisions in case you
need to?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
4
Indian Constitution at Work
± Write down all these decisions on a paper and put
it up on the notice board. Which problems did you
encounter in this decision? Were there differences
among different students? How did you resolve
these differences? Did the entire class gain
something from this exercise?
Specification of decision making powers
A constitution is a body of fundamental principles according to which
a state is constituted or governed. But what should these
fundamental rules be? And what makes them fundamental? Well,
the first question you will have to decide is who gets to decide what
the laws governing the society should be? You may want rule X, but
others may want rule Y. How do we decide whose rules or preferences
should govern us? You may think the rules you want everyone to
live by are the best; but others think that their rules are the best.
How do we resolve this dispute? So even before you decide what
rules should govern this group you have to decide: Who gets to
decide?
The constitution has to provide an answer to this question. It
specifies the basic allocation of power in a society. It decides who
gets to decide what the laws will be. In principle, this question, who
gets to decide, can be answered in many ways: in a monarchical
constitution, a monarch decides; in some constitutions like the old
Soviet Union, one single party was given the power to decide. But in
democratic constitutions, broadly speaking, the people get to decide.
But this matter is not so simple. Because even if you answer that the
people should decide, it will not answer the question: how should
the people decide? For something to be law, should everyone agree
to it? Should  the people directly vote on each matter as the ancient
Greeks did? Or should the people express their preferences by electing
representatives? But if the people act through their representatives,
how should these representatives be elected? How many should there
be?
In the Indian Constitution for example, it is specified that in most
instances, Parliament gets to decide laws and policies, and that
Parliament itself be organised in a particular manner. Before
identifying what the law in any given society is, you have to identify
2015-16(20/01/2015)
5
Chapter 1: Constitution: Why and How?
who has the authority to enact it. If Parliament has the authority to
enact laws,  there must be a law that bestows this authority on
Parliament  in the first
place. This is the function
of the constitution. It is an
authority that constitutes
government in the first
place.
The second function
of a constitution is to
specify who has the
power to make
decisions in a society.
It decides how the
government will be
constituted.
Limitations on the
powers of government
But this is clearly not
enough. Suppose you
decided who had the
authority to make
decisions. But then this
authority passed laws that
you thought were patently
unfair. It prohibited you
from practising your
religion for instance. Or it
enjoined that clothes of a
certain colour were
prohibited, or that you
were not free to sing certain songs or that people who belonged to a
particular group (caste or religion) would always have to serve others
and would not be allowed to retain any property. Or that government
could arbitrarily arrest someone, or that only people of a certain skin
colour would be allowed to draw water from wells. You would obviously
think these laws were unjust and unfair. And even though they were
passed by a government that had come into existence based
“European Constitution” by Patrick Chappate, International Herald Tribune, 21SEP04 Copyright Cagle Cartoons.
READ A CARTOON
Countries of the European Union tried to create a
European constitution. The attempt failed. Here is a
cartoonist’s impression of this attempt. Does this
always happen in any constitution making?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
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