NCERT Textbook - Framing the Constitution Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Framing the Constitution Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


405 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
Framing the Constitution
The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a Ne e e e ew Er w Er w Er w Er w Era a a a a
The Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,
has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the world. But
its length and complexity are perhaps understandable when one
considers the country’s size and diversity. At Independence, India
was not merely large and diverse, but also deeply divided.
A Constitution designed to keep the country together, and to take it
forward, had necessarily to be an elaborate, carefully-worked-out,
and painstakingly drafted document. For one thing, it sought to
heal wounds of the past and the present, to make Indians of different
classes, castes and communities come together in a shared political
experiment. For another, it sought to nurture democratic institutions
in what had long been a culture of hierarchy and deference.
The Constitution of India was framed between December 1946
and December 1949. During this time its drafts were discussed clause
by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. In all, the Assembly
THEME
FIFTEEN
Fig. 15.1
The Constitution was signed in December 1949 after three years of debate.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


405 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
Framing the Constitution
The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a Ne e e e ew Er w Er w Er w Er w Era a a a a
The Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,
has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the world. But
its length and complexity are perhaps understandable when one
considers the country’s size and diversity. At Independence, India
was not merely large and diverse, but also deeply divided.
A Constitution designed to keep the country together, and to take it
forward, had necessarily to be an elaborate, carefully-worked-out,
and painstakingly drafted document. For one thing, it sought to
heal wounds of the past and the present, to make Indians of different
classes, castes and communities come together in a shared political
experiment. For another, it sought to nurture democratic institutions
in what had long been a culture of hierarchy and deference.
The Constitution of India was framed between December 1946
and December 1949. During this time its drafts were discussed clause
by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. In all, the Assembly
THEME
FIFTEEN
Fig. 15.1
The Constitution was signed in December 1949 after three years of debate.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 406
1. A Tumultuous Time
The years immediately preceding the making of the
Constitution had been exceptionally tumultuous: a
time of great hope, but also of abject disappointment.
On 15 August 1947, India had been made free, but it
had also been divided. Fresh in popular memory were
the Quit India struggle of 1942 – perhaps the most
widespread popular movement against the British
Raj – as well as the bid by Subhas Chandra Bose to
win freedom through armed struggle with foreign aid.
An even more recent upsurge had also evoked much
popular sympathy – this was the rising of the ratings
of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay and other cities
in the spring of 1946. Through the late 1940s there
were periodic, if scattered, mass protests of workers
and peasants in different parts of the country.
One striking feature of these popular upsurges was
the degree of Hindu-Muslim unity they manifested.
In contrast, the two leading Indian political parties, the
Congress and the Muslim League, had repeatedly failed
to arrive at a settlement that would bring about religious
reconciliation and social harmony. The Great Calcutta
Killings of August 1946 began a year of almost
continuous rioting across northern and eastern India
(see Chapters 13 and 14). The violence culminated
in the massacres that accompanied the transfer of
populations when the Partition of India was announced.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1947, there was
an outburst of joy and hope, unforgettable for those
who lived through that time. But innumerable
Muslims in India, and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan,
were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of
Fig. 15.2
Images of desolation and destruction
continued to haunt members of the
Constituent Assembly.
held eleven sessions, with sittings spread over 165 days. In
between the sessions, the work of revising and refining the drafts
was carried out by various committees and sub-committees.
From your political science textbooks you know what the
Constitution of India is, and you have seen how it has worked
over the decades since Independence. This chapter will introduce
you to the history that lies behind the Constitution, and the
intense debates that were part of its making. If we try and hear
the voices within the Constituent Assembly, we get an idea of the
process through which the Constitution was framed and the vision
of the new nation formulated.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


405 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
Framing the Constitution
The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a Ne e e e ew Er w Er w Er w Er w Era a a a a
The Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,
has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the world. But
its length and complexity are perhaps understandable when one
considers the country’s size and diversity. At Independence, India
was not merely large and diverse, but also deeply divided.
A Constitution designed to keep the country together, and to take it
forward, had necessarily to be an elaborate, carefully-worked-out,
and painstakingly drafted document. For one thing, it sought to
heal wounds of the past and the present, to make Indians of different
classes, castes and communities come together in a shared political
experiment. For another, it sought to nurture democratic institutions
in what had long been a culture of hierarchy and deference.
The Constitution of India was framed between December 1946
and December 1949. During this time its drafts were discussed clause
by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. In all, the Assembly
THEME
FIFTEEN
Fig. 15.1
The Constitution was signed in December 1949 after three years of debate.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 406
1. A Tumultuous Time
The years immediately preceding the making of the
Constitution had been exceptionally tumultuous: a
time of great hope, but also of abject disappointment.
On 15 August 1947, India had been made free, but it
had also been divided. Fresh in popular memory were
the Quit India struggle of 1942 – perhaps the most
widespread popular movement against the British
Raj – as well as the bid by Subhas Chandra Bose to
win freedom through armed struggle with foreign aid.
An even more recent upsurge had also evoked much
popular sympathy – this was the rising of the ratings
of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay and other cities
in the spring of 1946. Through the late 1940s there
were periodic, if scattered, mass protests of workers
and peasants in different parts of the country.
One striking feature of these popular upsurges was
the degree of Hindu-Muslim unity they manifested.
In contrast, the two leading Indian political parties, the
Congress and the Muslim League, had repeatedly failed
to arrive at a settlement that would bring about religious
reconciliation and social harmony. The Great Calcutta
Killings of August 1946 began a year of almost
continuous rioting across northern and eastern India
(see Chapters 13 and 14). The violence culminated
in the massacres that accompanied the transfer of
populations when the Partition of India was announced.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1947, there was
an outburst of joy and hope, unforgettable for those
who lived through that time. But innumerable
Muslims in India, and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan,
were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of
Fig. 15.2
Images of desolation and destruction
continued to haunt members of the
Constituent Assembly.
held eleven sessions, with sittings spread over 165 days. In
between the sessions, the work of revising and refining the drafts
was carried out by various committees and sub-committees.
From your political science textbooks you know what the
Constitution of India is, and you have seen how it has worked
over the decades since Independence. This chapter will introduce
you to the history that lies behind the Constitution, and the
intense debates that were part of its making. If we try and hear
the voices within the Constituent Assembly, we get an idea of the
process through which the Constitution was framed and the vision
of the new nation formulated.
© NCERT
not to be republished
407 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
sudden death or the squeezing of opportunities on
the one side, and a forcible tearing away from
their age-old roots on the other. Millions of refugees
were on the move, Muslims into East and West
Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs into West Bengal and
the eastern half of the Punjab. Many perished
before they reached their destination.
Another, and scarcely less serious, problem faced
by the new nation was that of the princely states.
During the period of the Raj, approximately one-third
of the area of the subcontinent was under the control
of nawabs and maharajas who owed allegiance to
the British Crown, but were otherwise left mostly
free to rule – or misrule – their territory as they
wished. When the British left India, the constitutional
status of these princes remained ambiguous. As one
contemporary observer remarked, some maharajas
now began “to luxuriate in wild dreams of independent
power in an India of many partitions”.
This was the background in which the
Constituent Assembly met. How could the debates
within the Assembly remain insulated from what
was happening outside?
1.1 The making of the Constituent Assembly
The members of the Constituent Assembly were not
elected on the basis of universal franchise. In the
winter of 1945-46 provincial elections were held in
India. The Provincial Legislatures then chose the
representatives to the Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly that came into being
was dominated by one party: the Congress. The
Fig. 15.3
Jawaharlal Nehru speaking in the
Constituent Assembly at midnight
on14 August 1947
It was on this day that Nehru gave
his famous speech that began with
the following lines:
“Long years ago we made a tryst
with destiny, and now the time
comes when we shall redeem our
pledge, not wholly or in full
measure, but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight hour,
when the world sleeps, India will
awake to life and freedom.”
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


405 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
Framing the Constitution
The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a Ne e e e ew Er w Er w Er w Er w Era a a a a
The Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,
has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the world. But
its length and complexity are perhaps understandable when one
considers the country’s size and diversity. At Independence, India
was not merely large and diverse, but also deeply divided.
A Constitution designed to keep the country together, and to take it
forward, had necessarily to be an elaborate, carefully-worked-out,
and painstakingly drafted document. For one thing, it sought to
heal wounds of the past and the present, to make Indians of different
classes, castes and communities come together in a shared political
experiment. For another, it sought to nurture democratic institutions
in what had long been a culture of hierarchy and deference.
The Constitution of India was framed between December 1946
and December 1949. During this time its drafts were discussed clause
by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. In all, the Assembly
THEME
FIFTEEN
Fig. 15.1
The Constitution was signed in December 1949 after three years of debate.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 406
1. A Tumultuous Time
The years immediately preceding the making of the
Constitution had been exceptionally tumultuous: a
time of great hope, but also of abject disappointment.
On 15 August 1947, India had been made free, but it
had also been divided. Fresh in popular memory were
the Quit India struggle of 1942 – perhaps the most
widespread popular movement against the British
Raj – as well as the bid by Subhas Chandra Bose to
win freedom through armed struggle with foreign aid.
An even more recent upsurge had also evoked much
popular sympathy – this was the rising of the ratings
of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay and other cities
in the spring of 1946. Through the late 1940s there
were periodic, if scattered, mass protests of workers
and peasants in different parts of the country.
One striking feature of these popular upsurges was
the degree of Hindu-Muslim unity they manifested.
In contrast, the two leading Indian political parties, the
Congress and the Muslim League, had repeatedly failed
to arrive at a settlement that would bring about religious
reconciliation and social harmony. The Great Calcutta
Killings of August 1946 began a year of almost
continuous rioting across northern and eastern India
(see Chapters 13 and 14). The violence culminated
in the massacres that accompanied the transfer of
populations when the Partition of India was announced.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1947, there was
an outburst of joy and hope, unforgettable for those
who lived through that time. But innumerable
Muslims in India, and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan,
were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of
Fig. 15.2
Images of desolation and destruction
continued to haunt members of the
Constituent Assembly.
held eleven sessions, with sittings spread over 165 days. In
between the sessions, the work of revising and refining the drafts
was carried out by various committees and sub-committees.
From your political science textbooks you know what the
Constitution of India is, and you have seen how it has worked
over the decades since Independence. This chapter will introduce
you to the history that lies behind the Constitution, and the
intense debates that were part of its making. If we try and hear
the voices within the Constituent Assembly, we get an idea of the
process through which the Constitution was framed and the vision
of the new nation formulated.
© NCERT
not to be republished
407 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
sudden death or the squeezing of opportunities on
the one side, and a forcible tearing away from
their age-old roots on the other. Millions of refugees
were on the move, Muslims into East and West
Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs into West Bengal and
the eastern half of the Punjab. Many perished
before they reached their destination.
Another, and scarcely less serious, problem faced
by the new nation was that of the princely states.
During the period of the Raj, approximately one-third
of the area of the subcontinent was under the control
of nawabs and maharajas who owed allegiance to
the British Crown, but were otherwise left mostly
free to rule – or misrule – their territory as they
wished. When the British left India, the constitutional
status of these princes remained ambiguous. As one
contemporary observer remarked, some maharajas
now began “to luxuriate in wild dreams of independent
power in an India of many partitions”.
This was the background in which the
Constituent Assembly met. How could the debates
within the Assembly remain insulated from what
was happening outside?
1.1 The making of the Constituent Assembly
The members of the Constituent Assembly were not
elected on the basis of universal franchise. In the
winter of 1945-46 provincial elections were held in
India. The Provincial Legislatures then chose the
representatives to the Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly that came into being
was dominated by one party: the Congress. The
Fig. 15.3
Jawaharlal Nehru speaking in the
Constituent Assembly at midnight
on14 August 1947
It was on this day that Nehru gave
his famous speech that began with
the following lines:
“Long years ago we made a tryst
with destiny, and now the time
comes when we shall redeem our
pledge, not wholly or in full
measure, but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight hour,
when the world sleeps, India will
awake to life and freedom.”
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 408
Fig. 15.4
The Constituent Assembly in
session
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel is seen
sitting second from right.
Congress swept the general seats in the provincial
elections, and the Muslim League captured most of
the reserved Muslim seats. But the League chose to
boycott the Constituent Assembly, pressing its
demand for Pakistan with a separate constitution.
The Socialists too were initially unwilling to join,
for they believed the Constituent Assembly was a
creation of the British, and therefore incapable of being
truly autonomous. In effect, therefore, 82 per cent
of the members of the Constituent Assembly were
also members of the Congress.
The Congress however was not a party with one
voice. Its members differed in their opinion on critical
issues. Some members were inspired by socialism
while others were defenders of landlordism. Some
were close to communal parties while others were
assertively secular. Through the national movement
Congress members had learnt to debate their ideas
in public and negotiate their differences. Within the
Constituent Assembly too, Congress members did not
sit quiet.
The discussions within the Constituent Assembly
were also influenced by the opinions expressed by
the public. As the deliberations continued, the
arguments were reported in newspapers, and the
proposals were publicly debated. Criticisms and
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


405 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
Framing the Constitution
The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a N The Beginning of a Ne e e e ew Er w Er w Er w Er w Era a a a a
The Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,
has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the world. But
its length and complexity are perhaps understandable when one
considers the country’s size and diversity. At Independence, India
was not merely large and diverse, but also deeply divided.
A Constitution designed to keep the country together, and to take it
forward, had necessarily to be an elaborate, carefully-worked-out,
and painstakingly drafted document. For one thing, it sought to
heal wounds of the past and the present, to make Indians of different
classes, castes and communities come together in a shared political
experiment. For another, it sought to nurture democratic institutions
in what had long been a culture of hierarchy and deference.
The Constitution of India was framed between December 1946
and December 1949. During this time its drafts were discussed clause
by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. In all, the Assembly
THEME
FIFTEEN
Fig. 15.1
The Constitution was signed in December 1949 after three years of debate.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 406
1. A Tumultuous Time
The years immediately preceding the making of the
Constitution had been exceptionally tumultuous: a
time of great hope, but also of abject disappointment.
On 15 August 1947, India had been made free, but it
had also been divided. Fresh in popular memory were
the Quit India struggle of 1942 – perhaps the most
widespread popular movement against the British
Raj – as well as the bid by Subhas Chandra Bose to
win freedom through armed struggle with foreign aid.
An even more recent upsurge had also evoked much
popular sympathy – this was the rising of the ratings
of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay and other cities
in the spring of 1946. Through the late 1940s there
were periodic, if scattered, mass protests of workers
and peasants in different parts of the country.
One striking feature of these popular upsurges was
the degree of Hindu-Muslim unity they manifested.
In contrast, the two leading Indian political parties, the
Congress and the Muslim League, had repeatedly failed
to arrive at a settlement that would bring about religious
reconciliation and social harmony. The Great Calcutta
Killings of August 1946 began a year of almost
continuous rioting across northern and eastern India
(see Chapters 13 and 14). The violence culminated
in the massacres that accompanied the transfer of
populations when the Partition of India was announced.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1947, there was
an outburst of joy and hope, unforgettable for those
who lived through that time. But innumerable
Muslims in India, and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan,
were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of
Fig. 15.2
Images of desolation and destruction
continued to haunt members of the
Constituent Assembly.
held eleven sessions, with sittings spread over 165 days. In
between the sessions, the work of revising and refining the drafts
was carried out by various committees and sub-committees.
From your political science textbooks you know what the
Constitution of India is, and you have seen how it has worked
over the decades since Independence. This chapter will introduce
you to the history that lies behind the Constitution, and the
intense debates that were part of its making. If we try and hear
the voices within the Constituent Assembly, we get an idea of the
process through which the Constitution was framed and the vision
of the new nation formulated.
© NCERT
not to be republished
407 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
sudden death or the squeezing of opportunities on
the one side, and a forcible tearing away from
their age-old roots on the other. Millions of refugees
were on the move, Muslims into East and West
Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs into West Bengal and
the eastern half of the Punjab. Many perished
before they reached their destination.
Another, and scarcely less serious, problem faced
by the new nation was that of the princely states.
During the period of the Raj, approximately one-third
of the area of the subcontinent was under the control
of nawabs and maharajas who owed allegiance to
the British Crown, but were otherwise left mostly
free to rule – or misrule – their territory as they
wished. When the British left India, the constitutional
status of these princes remained ambiguous. As one
contemporary observer remarked, some maharajas
now began “to luxuriate in wild dreams of independent
power in an India of many partitions”.
This was the background in which the
Constituent Assembly met. How could the debates
within the Assembly remain insulated from what
was happening outside?
1.1 The making of the Constituent Assembly
The members of the Constituent Assembly were not
elected on the basis of universal franchise. In the
winter of 1945-46 provincial elections were held in
India. The Provincial Legislatures then chose the
representatives to the Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly that came into being
was dominated by one party: the Congress. The
Fig. 15.3
Jawaharlal Nehru speaking in the
Constituent Assembly at midnight
on14 August 1947
It was on this day that Nehru gave
his famous speech that began with
the following lines:
“Long years ago we made a tryst
with destiny, and now the time
comes when we shall redeem our
pledge, not wholly or in full
measure, but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight hour,
when the world sleeps, India will
awake to life and freedom.”
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 408
Fig. 15.4
The Constituent Assembly in
session
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel is seen
sitting second from right.
Congress swept the general seats in the provincial
elections, and the Muslim League captured most of
the reserved Muslim seats. But the League chose to
boycott the Constituent Assembly, pressing its
demand for Pakistan with a separate constitution.
The Socialists too were initially unwilling to join,
for they believed the Constituent Assembly was a
creation of the British, and therefore incapable of being
truly autonomous. In effect, therefore, 82 per cent
of the members of the Constituent Assembly were
also members of the Congress.
The Congress however was not a party with one
voice. Its members differed in their opinion on critical
issues. Some members were inspired by socialism
while others were defenders of landlordism. Some
were close to communal parties while others were
assertively secular. Through the national movement
Congress members had learnt to debate their ideas
in public and negotiate their differences. Within the
Constituent Assembly too, Congress members did not
sit quiet.
The discussions within the Constituent Assembly
were also influenced by the opinions expressed by
the public. As the deliberations continued, the
arguments were reported in newspapers, and the
proposals were publicly debated. Criticisms and
© NCERT
not to be republished
409 FRAMING THE CONSTITUTION
counter-criticisms in the press in turn shaped the
nature of the consensus that was ultimately
reached on specific issues. In order to create a sense
of collective participation the public was also asked
to send in their views on what needed to be done.
Many of the linguistic minorities wanted the
protection of their mother tongue, religious
minorities asked for special safeguards, while dalits
demanded an end to all caste oppression and
reservation of seats in government bodies. Important
issues of cultural rights and social justice raised
in these public discussions were debated on the floor
of the Assembly.
1.2 The dominant voices
The Constituent Assembly had 300 members. Of these,
six members played particularly important roles.
Three were representatives of the Congress, namely,
Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabh Bhai Patel and Rajendra
Prasad. It was Nehru who moved the crucial
“Objectives Resolution”, as well as the resolution
proposing that the National Flag of India be a
“horizontal tricolour of saffron, white and dark
green in equal proportion”, with a wheel in navy
blue at the centre. Patel, on the other hand, worked
mostly behind the scenes, playing a key role in the
drafting of several reports, and working to reconcile
opposing points of view. Rajendra Prasad’s role was
as President of the Assembly, where he had to steer
the discussion along constructive lines while
making sure all members had a chance to speak.
Besides this Congress trio, a very important member
of the Assembly was the lawyer and economist B.R.
Ambedkar. During the period of British rule,
Ambedkar had been a political opponent of the
Congress; but, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi,
he was asked at Independence to join the Union
Cabinet as law minister. In this capacity, he served
as Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the
Constitution. Serving with him were two other
lawyers, K.M. Munshi from Gujarat and Alladi
Krishnaswamy Aiyar from Madras, both of whom
gave crucial inputs in the drafting of the Constitution.
These six members were given vital assistance by
two civil servants. One was B. N. Rau, Constitutional
Advisor to the Government of India, who prepared
a series of background papers based on a close study
of the political systems obtaining in other countries.
© NCERT
not to be republished
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