NCERT Textbook - The Indian Constitution Class 8 Notes | EduRev

Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters

Class 8 : NCERT Textbook - The Indian Constitution Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Social and Political Life
2
Unit One
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Page 2


Social and Political Life
2
Unit One
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
3
Teacher’s Note
The Indian Constitution has been regularly referred to in the previous two Social and Political Life
textbooks. Unlike the previous two books, where little space was devoted to discussing the
Constitution itself, this year the chapters in Unit 1 take the Constitution as its main focus.
Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of the principles that underlie a liberal constitution. Three short
storyboards have been used to familiarise the student with the ideas that are being discussed.
The storyboards use incidents located within a classroom-setting to illustrate three complex
constitutive principles. The storyboards should be used to aid the student’s understanding of these
constitutive principles.
The discussion on the Indian Constitution is situated within a historical context. This has been done
with the express intent that students become aware of the major influence that our anti-colonial
struggle had on Indian democracy. In discussing the Constitution, we have had to use several new, and
often difficult terms, to explain certain key features. While teaching these, please keep in mind that
the student will continue to study these key features in greater depth in higher classes. Therefore, the
attempt here is to familiarise the student with a very basic understanding of the significance of these
features within the working of democracy in India.
Chapter 2 discusses secularism. The most prevalent definition of secularism is that it refers to the
separation between Religion and the State. The chapter uses this definition as the foundation and
then proceeds to elucidate two complicated ideas: the first points to why this separation is important
and the second to what is particular to Indian secularism.
There are two main reasons why the separation between Religion and State is important. The first
is to prevent the domination of one religion over another, i.e. inter-religious domination. The second
is to oppose the various types of domination that can happen within a religion, i.e. intra-religious
domination. For example, the chapter discusses untouchability in Hindu religious practice which
allowed ‘upper castes’ to dominate members of some ‘lower castes’. Secularism’s opposition to
institutionalised religion means that it promotes freedom and equality between and within religions.
The second major conceptual idea that the chapter deals with is the unique nature of Indian
secularism. Indian secularism does protect the religious freedom of individuals by maintaining a
separation from religion. But it also provides room for the reform of religions, for example, the
abolishing of untouchability, child marriage, etc. Therefore, in its attempt to achieve religious equality
(both between as well as within religions) the Indian secular State both maintains a separation as
well as intervenes in religion. This intervention can either be in terms of a ban (like that on
untouchability) or in terms of providing assistance to religious minorities. The chapter explains this
and refers to it as ‘principled distance’. This means that any interference in religion by the State has
to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
Several of the above points are quite complex. It is crucial that you understand these points clearly
before teaching this chapter. It is very likely that students will come up with several suggestions for
why the government should intervene or not intervene in religious affairs. While discussion is to be
encouraged, it is important to mediate this and ensure that it does not reinforce stereotypes of
religious minorities.
The Indian Constitution
and Secularism
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Page 3


Social and Political Life
2
Unit One
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
3
Teacher’s Note
The Indian Constitution has been regularly referred to in the previous two Social and Political Life
textbooks. Unlike the previous two books, where little space was devoted to discussing the
Constitution itself, this year the chapters in Unit 1 take the Constitution as its main focus.
Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of the principles that underlie a liberal constitution. Three short
storyboards have been used to familiarise the student with the ideas that are being discussed.
The storyboards use incidents located within a classroom-setting to illustrate three complex
constitutive principles. The storyboards should be used to aid the student’s understanding of these
constitutive principles.
The discussion on the Indian Constitution is situated within a historical context. This has been done
with the express intent that students become aware of the major influence that our anti-colonial
struggle had on Indian democracy. In discussing the Constitution, we have had to use several new, and
often difficult terms, to explain certain key features. While teaching these, please keep in mind that
the student will continue to study these key features in greater depth in higher classes. Therefore, the
attempt here is to familiarise the student with a very basic understanding of the significance of these
features within the working of democracy in India.
Chapter 2 discusses secularism. The most prevalent definition of secularism is that it refers to the
separation between Religion and the State. The chapter uses this definition as the foundation and
then proceeds to elucidate two complicated ideas: the first points to why this separation is important
and the second to what is particular to Indian secularism.
There are two main reasons why the separation between Religion and State is important. The first
is to prevent the domination of one religion over another, i.e. inter-religious domination. The second
is to oppose the various types of domination that can happen within a religion, i.e. intra-religious
domination. For example, the chapter discusses untouchability in Hindu religious practice which
allowed ‘upper castes’ to dominate members of some ‘lower castes’. Secularism’s opposition to
institutionalised religion means that it promotes freedom and equality between and within religions.
The second major conceptual idea that the chapter deals with is the unique nature of Indian
secularism. Indian secularism does protect the religious freedom of individuals by maintaining a
separation from religion. But it also provides room for the reform of religions, for example, the
abolishing of untouchability, child marriage, etc. Therefore, in its attempt to achieve religious equality
(both between as well as within religions) the Indian secular State both maintains a separation as
well as intervenes in religion. This intervention can either be in terms of a ban (like that on
untouchability) or in terms of providing assistance to religious minorities. The chapter explains this
and refers to it as ‘principled distance’. This means that any interference in religion by the State has
to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
Several of the above points are quite complex. It is crucial that you understand these points clearly
before teaching this chapter. It is very likely that students will come up with several suggestions for
why the government should intervene or not intervene in religious affairs. While discussion is to be
encouraged, it is important to mediate this and ensure that it does not reinforce stereotypes of
religious minorities.
The Indian Constitution
and Secularism
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Social and Political Life
4
In this chapter, we are going to begin with football, a
game many of you have probably heard of, or even
played. As the name suggests, this is a game that involves
the players’ feet. According to the rules of football, if
the ball touches the arm of any player (except the
goalkeeper), then this is considered a foul. So if players
start holding the football in their hands and passing it
around, then they are not playing football any more.
Similarly other games, such as hockey or cricket, also
have rules according to which they are played. Each of
these rules helps define the game, and helps us
distinguish one game from another. As these are
fundamental to the game, we can also call them the
constitutive rules of the game. Like these games, a
society also has constitutive rules that make it what it
is and differentiate it from other kinds of societies. In
large societies in which different communities of people
live together, these rules are formulated through
consensus, and in modern countries this consensus is
usually available in written form. A written document
in which we find such rules is called a Constitution.
We have looked at the Indian Constitution in Classes VI
and VII in our Social and Political Life textbooks. Have
you ever wondered why we need a Constitution or been
curious about how the Constitution got written, or who
wrote it? In this chapter, we will discuss both these
issues and also look at the key features of the Indian
Constitution. Each of these features is crucial to the
working of democracy in India and some of these will
be the focus of different chapters in this book.
Chapter 1
The
Indian Constitution
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Page 4


Social and Political Life
2
Unit One
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
3
Teacher’s Note
The Indian Constitution has been regularly referred to in the previous two Social and Political Life
textbooks. Unlike the previous two books, where little space was devoted to discussing the
Constitution itself, this year the chapters in Unit 1 take the Constitution as its main focus.
Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of the principles that underlie a liberal constitution. Three short
storyboards have been used to familiarise the student with the ideas that are being discussed.
The storyboards use incidents located within a classroom-setting to illustrate three complex
constitutive principles. The storyboards should be used to aid the student’s understanding of these
constitutive principles.
The discussion on the Indian Constitution is situated within a historical context. This has been done
with the express intent that students become aware of the major influence that our anti-colonial
struggle had on Indian democracy. In discussing the Constitution, we have had to use several new, and
often difficult terms, to explain certain key features. While teaching these, please keep in mind that
the student will continue to study these key features in greater depth in higher classes. Therefore, the
attempt here is to familiarise the student with a very basic understanding of the significance of these
features within the working of democracy in India.
Chapter 2 discusses secularism. The most prevalent definition of secularism is that it refers to the
separation between Religion and the State. The chapter uses this definition as the foundation and
then proceeds to elucidate two complicated ideas: the first points to why this separation is important
and the second to what is particular to Indian secularism.
There are two main reasons why the separation between Religion and State is important. The first
is to prevent the domination of one religion over another, i.e. inter-religious domination. The second
is to oppose the various types of domination that can happen within a religion, i.e. intra-religious
domination. For example, the chapter discusses untouchability in Hindu religious practice which
allowed ‘upper castes’ to dominate members of some ‘lower castes’. Secularism’s opposition to
institutionalised religion means that it promotes freedom and equality between and within religions.
The second major conceptual idea that the chapter deals with is the unique nature of Indian
secularism. Indian secularism does protect the religious freedom of individuals by maintaining a
separation from religion. But it also provides room for the reform of religions, for example, the
abolishing of untouchability, child marriage, etc. Therefore, in its attempt to achieve religious equality
(both between as well as within religions) the Indian secular State both maintains a separation as
well as intervenes in religion. This intervention can either be in terms of a ban (like that on
untouchability) or in terms of providing assistance to religious minorities. The chapter explains this
and refers to it as ‘principled distance’. This means that any interference in religion by the State has
to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
Several of the above points are quite complex. It is crucial that you understand these points clearly
before teaching this chapter. It is very likely that students will come up with several suggestions for
why the government should intervene or not intervene in religious affairs. While discussion is to be
encouraged, it is important to mediate this and ensure that it does not reinforce stereotypes of
religious minorities.
The Indian Constitution
and Secularism
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Social and Political Life
4
In this chapter, we are going to begin with football, a
game many of you have probably heard of, or even
played. As the name suggests, this is a game that involves
the players’ feet. According to the rules of football, if
the ball touches the arm of any player (except the
goalkeeper), then this is considered a foul. So if players
start holding the football in their hands and passing it
around, then they are not playing football any more.
Similarly other games, such as hockey or cricket, also
have rules according to which they are played. Each of
these rules helps define the game, and helps us
distinguish one game from another. As these are
fundamental to the game, we can also call them the
constitutive rules of the game. Like these games, a
society also has constitutive rules that make it what it
is and differentiate it from other kinds of societies. In
large societies in which different communities of people
live together, these rules are formulated through
consensus, and in modern countries this consensus is
usually available in written form. A written document
in which we find such rules is called a Constitution.
We have looked at the Indian Constitution in Classes VI
and VII in our Social and Political Life textbooks. Have
you ever wondered why we need a Constitution or been
curious about how the Constitution got written, or who
wrote it? In this chapter, we will discuss both these
issues and also look at the key features of the Indian
Constitution. Each of these features is crucial to the
working of democracy in India and some of these will
be the focus of different chapters in this book.
Chapter 1
The
Indian Constitution
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
5
The Indian Constitution
Today most countries in the world have a Constitution.
While all democratic countries are likely to have a
Constitution, it is not necessary that all countries that have
a Constitution are democratic. The Constitution serves
several purposes. First, it lays out certain ideals that form
the basis of the kind of country that we as citizens aspire to
live in. Or, put another way, a Constitution tells us what
the fundamental nature of our society is. A country is
usually made up of different communities of people who
share certain beliefs but may not necessarily agree on all
issues. A Constitution helps serve as a set of rules and
principles that all persons in a country can agree upon as
the basis of the way in which they want the country to be
governed. This includes not only the type of government
but also an agreement on certain ideals that they all believe
the country should uphold.
Why Does a Country Need a Constitution?
In 1934, the Indian National Congress made
the demand for a Constituent Assembly.
During the Second World War, this assertion
for an independent Constituent Assembly
formed only of Indians gained momentum
and this was convened in December 1946.
The photo on page 2 shows some members
of the Constituent Assembly.
Between December 1946 and November
1949, the Constituent Assembly drafted a
constitution for independent India. Free to
shape their destiny at last, after 150 years
of British rule, the members of the
Constituent Assembly approached this task
with the great idealism that the freedom
struggle had helped produce. You will read
more about the work of the Constituent
Assembly later in the chapter.
The photo alongside shows Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the
Constituent Assembly.
Chapter 1: The Indian Constitution
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Page 5


Social and Political Life
2
Unit One
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
3
Teacher’s Note
The Indian Constitution has been regularly referred to in the previous two Social and Political Life
textbooks. Unlike the previous two books, where little space was devoted to discussing the
Constitution itself, this year the chapters in Unit 1 take the Constitution as its main focus.
Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of the principles that underlie a liberal constitution. Three short
storyboards have been used to familiarise the student with the ideas that are being discussed.
The storyboards use incidents located within a classroom-setting to illustrate three complex
constitutive principles. The storyboards should be used to aid the student’s understanding of these
constitutive principles.
The discussion on the Indian Constitution is situated within a historical context. This has been done
with the express intent that students become aware of the major influence that our anti-colonial
struggle had on Indian democracy. In discussing the Constitution, we have had to use several new, and
often difficult terms, to explain certain key features. While teaching these, please keep in mind that
the student will continue to study these key features in greater depth in higher classes. Therefore, the
attempt here is to familiarise the student with a very basic understanding of the significance of these
features within the working of democracy in India.
Chapter 2 discusses secularism. The most prevalent definition of secularism is that it refers to the
separation between Religion and the State. The chapter uses this definition as the foundation and
then proceeds to elucidate two complicated ideas: the first points to why this separation is important
and the second to what is particular to Indian secularism.
There are two main reasons why the separation between Religion and State is important. The first
is to prevent the domination of one religion over another, i.e. inter-religious domination. The second
is to oppose the various types of domination that can happen within a religion, i.e. intra-religious
domination. For example, the chapter discusses untouchability in Hindu religious practice which
allowed ‘upper castes’ to dominate members of some ‘lower castes’. Secularism’s opposition to
institutionalised religion means that it promotes freedom and equality between and within religions.
The second major conceptual idea that the chapter deals with is the unique nature of Indian
secularism. Indian secularism does protect the religious freedom of individuals by maintaining a
separation from religion. But it also provides room for the reform of religions, for example, the
abolishing of untouchability, child marriage, etc. Therefore, in its attempt to achieve religious equality
(both between as well as within religions) the Indian secular State both maintains a separation as
well as intervenes in religion. This intervention can either be in terms of a ban (like that on
untouchability) or in terms of providing assistance to religious minorities. The chapter explains this
and refers to it as ‘principled distance’. This means that any interference in religion by the State has
to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
Several of the above points are quite complex. It is crucial that you understand these points clearly
before teaching this chapter. It is very likely that students will come up with several suggestions for
why the government should intervene or not intervene in religious affairs. While discussion is to be
encouraged, it is important to mediate this and ensure that it does not reinforce stereotypes of
religious minorities.
The Indian Constitution
and Secularism
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Social and Political Life
4
In this chapter, we are going to begin with football, a
game many of you have probably heard of, or even
played. As the name suggests, this is a game that involves
the players’ feet. According to the rules of football, if
the ball touches the arm of any player (except the
goalkeeper), then this is considered a foul. So if players
start holding the football in their hands and passing it
around, then they are not playing football any more.
Similarly other games, such as hockey or cricket, also
have rules according to which they are played. Each of
these rules helps define the game, and helps us
distinguish one game from another. As these are
fundamental to the game, we can also call them the
constitutive rules of the game. Like these games, a
society also has constitutive rules that make it what it
is and differentiate it from other kinds of societies. In
large societies in which different communities of people
live together, these rules are formulated through
consensus, and in modern countries this consensus is
usually available in written form. A written document
in which we find such rules is called a Constitution.
We have looked at the Indian Constitution in Classes VI
and VII in our Social and Political Life textbooks. Have
you ever wondered why we need a Constitution or been
curious about how the Constitution got written, or who
wrote it? In this chapter, we will discuss both these
issues and also look at the key features of the Indian
Constitution. Each of these features is crucial to the
working of democracy in India and some of these will
be the focus of different chapters in this book.
Chapter 1
The
Indian Constitution
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
5
The Indian Constitution
Today most countries in the world have a Constitution.
While all democratic countries are likely to have a
Constitution, it is not necessary that all countries that have
a Constitution are democratic. The Constitution serves
several purposes. First, it lays out certain ideals that form
the basis of the kind of country that we as citizens aspire to
live in. Or, put another way, a Constitution tells us what
the fundamental nature of our society is. A country is
usually made up of different communities of people who
share certain beliefs but may not necessarily agree on all
issues. A Constitution helps serve as a set of rules and
principles that all persons in a country can agree upon as
the basis of the way in which they want the country to be
governed. This includes not only the type of government
but also an agreement on certain ideals that they all believe
the country should uphold.
Why Does a Country Need a Constitution?
In 1934, the Indian National Congress made
the demand for a Constituent Assembly.
During the Second World War, this assertion
for an independent Constituent Assembly
formed only of Indians gained momentum
and this was convened in December 1946.
The photo on page 2 shows some members
of the Constituent Assembly.
Between December 1946 and November
1949, the Constituent Assembly drafted a
constitution for independent India. Free to
shape their destiny at last, after 150 years
of British rule, the members of the
Constituent Assembly approached this task
with the great idealism that the freedom
struggle had helped produce. You will read
more about the work of the Constituent
Assembly later in the chapter.
The photo alongside shows Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the
Constituent Assembly.
Chapter 1: The Indian Constitution
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Social and Political Life
6
Let us try and understand what we mean by this through two
contrasting situations in the recent history of Nepal, a country
that borders India on the north. Until recently, Nepal was a
monarchy . The previous Constitution of Nepal, which had been
adopted in 1990, reflected the fact that the final authority rested
with the King. A people’ s movement in Nepal fought for several
decades to establish democracy and in 2006 they finally
succeeded in putting an end to the powers of the King. The
people had to write a new Constitution to establish Nepal as a
democracy. The reason that they did not want to continue with
the previous Constitution is because it did not reflect the ideals
of the country that they want Nepal to be, and that they have
fought for.
As in the game of football, in which a change in the constitutive
rules will change the game altogether, Nepal, by moving from a
monarchy to a democratic government, needs to change all its
constitutive rules in order to usher in a new society . This is why ,
the people of Nepal adopted a new Constitution for the country
in 2015. The caption alongside elaborates Nepal’s struggle for
democracy.
The second important purpose of a Constitution is to define
the nature of a country’s political system. For example,
Nepal’s earlier Constitution stated that the country was
to be ruled by the King and his council of ministers. In
countries that have adopted a democratic form of
Discuss with your teacher what
you understand by the term
‘constitutive’. Provide one
example of ‘constitutive rules’
from your everyday life.
Why did the people of Nepal
want a new Constitution?
The country of Nepal has witnessed several
people’s struggles for democracy. There was a
people’s struggle in 1990 that established
democracy that lasted for 12 years until
2002. In October 2002, King Gyanendra,
citing the Maoist uprising in the countryside as
his reason, began taking over different aspects
of the government with the army’s assistance.
The King then finally took over as the head of
government in February 2005. In November
2005, the Maoists joined other political parties
to sign a 12-point agreement. This agreement
signalled to the larger public an imminent return
to democracy and peace. In 2006, this
people’s movement for democracy began
gaining immense force. It repeatedly refused
the small concessions that the King made and
finally in April 2006 the King restored the Third
Parliament and asked the political parties to
form a government. In 2008, Nepal became a
democracy after abolishing the monarchy. The
above photos show scenes from the people’s
movement for democracy in 2006.
2020-21
©  NCERT 
not to be republished
Read More
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