Vision of a Republic Indian Constitution

Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it

: Dr Rajendra Prasad1

Think for a moment, nearly 200 years of being governed by people who followed orders of a foreign entity! It is surely traumatising and suffocating. This was the precise feeling our forefathers felt under the British regime. The brutality of a foreign governance that solely focused on destroying the resources of the colonised nation and doing little to nothing to alleviate the sufferings of the indigenous population; the impact was humiliating.

Desiring freedom from this humiliation gave impetus to India’s freedom struggle. It was this very will to take back the control of India’s destiny from England, that freedom movement which motivated men and women to join the national struggle not only on the field but also within the political and legislative circles.

Of the People, For the People

The year 1947 India had a tryst with destiny, for the sun of the British Empire had finally set. However, it was the year 1950 when India truly took control of her own destiny, for that was the year when The Constitution came into force, indicating the arrival of an independent nation that was firmly rooted in its ancient heritage with an optimism for a bright future.

The idea Swaraj was at the core of Indian Freedom Struggle. A government of the people, for the people and by the people. Abstract needs form for it to function more effectively, hence the idea of a Constitution that will empower the citizens of India, started taking roots within the minds of the leaders who were fighting the British on a more political level.

Offers and Proposals

Demand to be governed by our own laws was an important hallmark of the freedom struggle. In 1940, the then Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow offered what came to be known as the “August Offer”. Among other things, this “offer” included the recognition of Indians’ right to frame their own Constitution2.

Manabendra Nath Roy and his Constitution of Free India

Much before when the Constituent Assembly was created to prepare a Constitution, there existed M.N. Roy’s draft “Constitution of Free India” which was published in 1944. It was endorsed and released for public discussion by the Radical Democratic Party.3

Born as Narendra Nath Bhattacharya on 21-03-1887 in Bengal, Manabendra Nath Roy’s participation in the freedom movement started at the tender age of 14 and swerved towards more extremist form of nationalism.4.

While the British regime was reeling under the effects of the ongoing Second World War, the freedom movement in India had started to gain momentum. It was during this time that M.N Roy observed that chances were high that India will gain independence after the World War is over.

It called for the establishment of a nationwide network of ‘People’s Committees’ (district/city governments) elected by citizens. These committees would enjoy wide and critical powers in federal, provincial and local governance. They could recall representatives, initiate legislation, and demand referendums on executive measures — even those initiated by the federal government. The Draft separated the executive and legislative functions at the federal levels but merged them at the provincial tier of government.5

Did you know? M.N Roy’s Draft Constitution of Free India comprised of Thirteen Chapters and 137 Articles which embraced radical decentralisation and direct democracy.

Making the Constitution As We Know It- The Journey Begins

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, it became more and more clear that the British Government was working towards exiting from India. Under pressure from massive freedom movement and other factors led to the arrival of a Cabinet Mission in 1946 to discuss the transfer of power from British Government to the Indian political leadership.

Thus came the Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946 which laid foundation of the Constituent Assembly which undertook the Herculean task of framing a Constitution for India and for the people of India.

Did you know? First meeting of the Constituent Assembly took place on 09-12-1946, in the Constitution Hall. On that day, 207 members were present who submitted their credentials6. Amongst these 207 members, 186 members were men, and 15 members were women.7

Friday the 13th has a significance in our history, and it has nothing to do with ghosts! In fact this day and date’s importance for Indians is quite contrary- when the first step was taken to so that we can rid ourselves of the ghosts of colonial past!

13-12-1946, which happened to be a Friday, was the day when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru introduced the Objective Resolution which acted as a beacon for the Constitution Drafters8. “In framing the Constitution, we should remember that whatever plans of progress we make, we should never yield to the proposal of dividing India. India should remain one. Thus protecting our past civilization, we may proceed forward and take the greatest part in bringing peace to the world”.

Did you Know? The Objective Resolution introduced by Pandit Nehru eventually took form as the Preamble of our Constitution.9

In furtherance of its core objective to frame a balanced Constitution, the Constituent Assembly appointed several Committees on different aspects of the Constitution to conduct preliminary research and deliberations10.

The Advisor’s Quest

Born on 26-02-1887, Sir Benegal Narasing Rau, a reputed jurist, intellectual and civil servant, was chosen as the Constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly. Sir Rau had to undertake the arduous task to assimilate the aspirations and diverse practices and traditions of India into a balanced Draft Constitution.

In order to prepare the Draft Constitution, Sir B.N. Rau delved into extensive research. He travelled to United States of America, Canada, Ireland etc. and held discussions with scholars, judges and authorities of legislative law11.

Did you know? During his travels, Sir B.N. Rau, met Justice Felix Frankfurter, a Judge on the Supreme Court of the United States who advised Rau to avoid the “due process clause” in the Constitution12.

Furthermore, Sir BN Rau had to take into consideration the Reports of the Committees formed by the Constituent Assembly. He compiled reports of various committees to prepare a Draft Constitution which he submitted to the Drafting Committee. Decision making in the committees was on the basis of a majority vote and members could record their dissents to decisions taken if they wished13.

Did you know? Sir BN Rau declined to accept any remuneration for his work as the Constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly.14

The Drafters

After a Draft Constitution was prepared by Sir BN Rau, the Constituent Assembly on 29-08-1947 constituted The Drafting Committee15. Shri Satya Narayan Sinha suggested the names of 7 members be appointed to scrutinise and to suggest necessary amendment to the draft Constitution of India. The names were as follows-

(1) Shri Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar,

(2) Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar,

(3) The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar,

(4) Shri K. M. Munshi,

(5) Saiyid Mohd. Saadulla,

(6) Sir B. L. Mitter (replaced later by N. Madhava Rao)

(7) Shri D. P. Khaitan (replaced later by T.T. Krishnamachari)

After due deliberations, the names in the Resolution were adopted, with Dr B.R Ambedkar being appointed as the Committee’s Chairman.

Further in the course of Constitution making, N. Madhava Rao replaced Sir B.L. Mitter who resigned due to ill health and T.T. Krishnamachari filled the vacancy created by the demise of Shri DP Khaitan.

A Herculean Labour

In the backdrop of recent Independence and Partition of India, the Drafting Committee was in effect charged with the duty of preparing a Constitution in accordance with the decisions of the Constituent Assembly on the reports made by the various Committees appointed by it such as the Union Powers Committee, the Union Constitution Committee, the Provincial Constitution Committee and the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribal Area, etc.

The Constituent Assembly had also directed that in certain matters the provision contained in the Government of India Act, 1935, should be followed.

Furthermore, they had to examine the Draft Constitution prepared by Sir B.N. Rau and add or subtract what was necessary and unnecessary respectively. An early Draft of the Constitution was presented before the Assembly on 21-02-1948, four months after the submission of Sir B.N. Rau’s Draft.16

On 04-11-1948, Dr B.R. Ambedkar formally introduced the Draft Constitution as settled by the Drafting Committee and move that it be taken into consideration17.

Did you Know? The Draft of 1948 consisted of 315 Articles, and 8 ‘Schedules’ and was publicly available to members of the Assembly, provincial governments, central ministries, Courts, and the general public, along with an invitation to provide feedback and suggestions.18.

Put before the Assembly, every Article of the Draft Constitution was debated on, and amendments were suggested19.

After revising the Draft Constitution based on the afore-stated debates and discussions which lasted from November 1948 to October 1949, Dr Ambedkar on 14-11-1949, presented a revised Draft before the Assembly after examining 395 Articles.20

Resolving To Be a Republic

Did you know? Out of 165 sittings of the Constituent Assembly, 114 were spent debating the Draft Constitution21. It took nearly 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to complete the lengthiest written Constitution in the world.

Ten o’ clock, morning, on 26-11-1949, the Constituent Assembly gathered for a historic moment. Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, congratulated the Assembly on accomplishing a task of such tremendous magnitude as framing of the Constitution. “It has undoubtedly taken us three years to complete this work, but when we consider the work that has been accomplished and the number of days that we have spent in framing this Constitution, the details of which were given by the Honourable Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, yesterday, we have no reason to be sorry for the time spent.”22

After enumerating the salient features of the Constitution vis-à-vis separation of powers, structure of judiciary; enabling amendments easily; Directive Principles of State Policy et al, Dr Rajendra Prasad observed that,

We have prepared a democratic Constitution. But successful working of democratic institutions requires in those who have to work them willingness to respect the viewpoints of others, capacity for compromise and accommodation (…) Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it”.

With these words of admiration and optimism, the Draft Constitution was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

On 24-1-1950, the Constituent Assembly met one last time to sign the copy of the Constitution by the Members.

Did you know? There were three copies of the Constitution- One in English completely hand-written and illuminated by artists; The second copy printed in English and the third copy hand-written in Hindi. The calligraphy work for the original handwritten copies of the Indian Constitution was done by renowned calligrapher Prem Behari Narain Raizada.23

Article 394, Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Citizenship), Article 60 (Oath and Affirmation by the President) and Article 324 (Election), Article 366 (Definition) Article 367 (Interpretation) Articles 379, 380, 388, 391, Article 392 (Power of President to remove difficulties) and Article 393 came into force on 26-11-1949; whereas the remaining provisions of the Constitution came into force on the 26-01-1950.

Did you Know? By the time it was passed, the Constitution came to have 395 Articles and 8 Schedules, instead of the 243 Articles and 13 Schedules of the original Draft Constitution of Sir B.N. Rau24.

The Republic of India

Making the Constitution was no mean feat. This document through its words, gave form to the abstract ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity, and an ambition to attain social and economic justice. The idea of a ‘Republic’ that was conceived during the freedom movement, finally came into being in 1950 and from there onwards, it has been a constant ever-evolving journey for the nation and its people. India is a land of diversity since times immemorial, which is why the Indian Constitution is the longest written Constitution in the world25 and which is why the framers drafted the Constitution in a way so that it can be amended to accord the ever-changing societal needs.

The Constitution of India is merely not “black and white law of the land”. It reflects our collective conscience; a beacon in times of our darkest moments; a reminder of the struggles that we faced in the past and struggles that we still have face in future. The Constitution is what provides the citizens not only their duties but also their rights and a reminder that the State has to work for the people.

It cannot be stressed and remembered enough that how the rights and remedies provided in the Constitution were interpreted by the Judges time and again to uphold rights of the citizens and that framework provided in it, has a system of checks and balances for the Legislature and Executive and Judiciary. These frameworks may or may not have had the desired effects, but that is what our Constitution is all about- i.e., providing ways for the organs of the State to find balance between several competing interests.

However, the amazing thing is, we don’t celebrate Republic Day only on 26th January every year. We celebrate Republic Day every single moment of our existence- when we have our morning “chai pe charchas”, when the Parliament passes any law; when debates are held in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; when people talk about latest societal developments and the very fact that after every 5 years, we decide who is going to form a government and work for the “Janta Janardan”.

26th January is a reminder that this Swaraj was gained through battles, sacrifices and long sessions of reasonable debates and discussions. So, like every year, let us remember again that the journey from a British colony to Republic of India has been long and we still must travel farther, but if we lose momentum on the way, there is our Constitution to guide us through.

Wishing you all a Happy Republic Day!

1. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. 11, Saturday 26th November 1949

2. What is a Constitution? When did the Constitution of India come into force? – The Hindu

3. Constitution of Free India : A Draft (M.N. Roy, 1944) Archives – Constitution of India

4. Roy, Manbendra Nath | Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (

5. Constitution of Free India : A Draft (M.N. Roy, 1944) Archives – Constitution of India

6. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 1, 9th December, 1946

7. The Constitution Framers – Constitution of India

8. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 1, 13th December 1946

9. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 11, 26th November, 1949

10. Committees – Constitution of India

11. The man who laid the bedrock for the Indian Constitution (

12. Of constitutional & lsquo; due process’ | Latest News | The Hindu

13. Committees – Constitution of India

14. The man who laid the bedrock for the Indian Constitution (

15. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 5, 29th August, 1947

16. Draft Constitution of India 1948 Archives – Constitution of India

17. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 7, 4th November, 1948

18. Supra

19. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 7, 15th November, 1948

20. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 11, 14th November, 1949

21. Draft Constitution of India 1948 Archives – Constitution of India

22. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 11, 26th November, 1949

23. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee whereas, B.N. Rau was the constitutional advisor of the constituent assembly – FACTLY

24. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol 11, 26th November, 1949

25. Constitution Rankings – Comparative Constitutions Project

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One comment

  • 📜 The Indian Constitution, born out of a fervent desire for Swaraj, symbolizes India’s struggle for independence and self-governance. After nearly two centuries of foreign rule, the year 1950 marked India’s tryst with destiny as The Constitution came into force, shaping an independent nation rooted in its ancient heritage. The Constitution embodied the vision of a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people,” reflecting the essence of India’s freedom movement. This legal document empowered citizens and paved the way for a brighter future. 🇮🇳📖 #IndianConstitution #Independence #Swaraj #FreedomStruggle

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