Chapter 1 Constitution: Why and How?
Which of these is not a function of the constitution?
(a) It gives a guarantee of the rights of the citizen.
(b) It marks out different spheres of power for different branches of government.
(c) It ensures that good people come to power. id) It gives expression to some shared values.
(c) It ensures that good people come to power.
Which of the following is a good reason to conclude that the authority of the constitution is higher than that of the parliament?
(а) The constitution was framed before the parliament came into being.
(b) The constitution makers were more eminent leaders than the members of the parliament.
(c) The constitution specifies how parliament is to be formed and what are its powers.
(d) The constitution cannot be amended by the parliament.
(c) The constitution specifies how parliament is to be formed and what are its powers.
State whether the following statements about a constitution are True or False:
(a) Constitutions are written documents about formation and power of the government.
(b) Constitutions exist and are required only in democratic countries.
(c) Constitution is a legal document that does not deal with ideals and values.
(d) A constitution gives its citizens a new identity.
State whether the following inferences about the making of the Indian Constitution are Correct or Incorrect. Give reasons to support your answer.
(a) The Constituent Assembly did not represent the Indian people since it was not elected by all citizens.
(b) Constitution making did not involve any major decision since there was a general consensus among the leaders at that time about its basic framework.
(c) There was little originality in the Constitution, for much of it was borrowed from other countries.
(a) It is incorrect to say that Constituent Assembly did not represent Indian people
- Although the members of Constituent Assembly were not elected by Universal suffrage, but there was a serious attempt to make the Assembly a representative body.
- The Constituent Assembly represented the members of all religions, social and economic groups to accommodate all shades of opinion within it.
- The Assembly had 26 members even from scheduled castes.
(b) It is correct to say because:
- Objective the Resolution containing principles was moved by Nehru in 1946 brought by the nationalist movement.
- Constituent Assembly could not have functioned without any background consensus on main principles.
- Our constitution does not have only rules and procedures but a moral commitment also to establish a government to fulfill the promises made to peoples.
(c) It is incorrect to say because:
- Though they borrowed a number of provisions from Constitutions of different countries but it was not based upon slavish imitations.
- Each provision before it was included, well considered by the members of Constituent Assembly.
- Long debates and discussions also took place to examine the suitability to the conditions prevailing in India along with problems and aspirations of the people.
Give two examples each to support the following conclusions about the Indian Constitution:
(a) The Constitution was made by credible leaders who commanded people’s respect.
(b) The Constitution has distributed power in such a way as to make it difficult to
(c) The Constitution is the locus of people’s hopes and aspirations.
(a) The following two factors are responsible:
- The members of Constituent Assembly were elected by indirect election by the members of Provincial Legislative Assemblies to be established in 1935. Assembly reflected each of the communities, provinces, princely states through an appropriate formula. Even 28 members belonged to scheduled castes.
- The members of Constituent Assembly went through long debates and discussions for 166 days spread over two years eleven months.
(b) The following two factors can be summed up for the same:
- Our Constitution has made institutional arrangements of government on the basis of check and balance approach. If one of the institutions goes beyond its limitations, the other checks it.
- The procedure for amendments is well elaborated for different articles of the Constitution.
(c) The following factors are responsible for the same because:
- The Constitution has provided some Fundamental Rights along with protected provisions,tibebthe judiciary has powers to protect them.
- The Constitution of India has incorporated some ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ which are not justiciable but a moral duty of government. The governmenthas also given some effects to these in the form of fixed minimum wages, formation of Panchayati Raj Institutions, employment guarantee scheme and mid-day meal schemes, etc. to be the hopes and aspirations of the people.
Why is it necessary for a country to have a clear demarcation of powers and responsibilities in the constitution? What would happen in the absence of such a demarcation?
It is necessary for a country to have a clear demarcation of powers and responsibilities
in the constitution because:
- To ensure that no single institution acquires monopoly of power.
- In case of transgressions, it may be checked by one of the institutions.
- To specify who plays important role in decision-making powers.
- It shows how government would be constituted.
- It lays down some limits on the government and citizens both which are fundamental in nature which should not to be trespassed by government and citizens.
- The Constitution shows how organs of government are interrelated alongwith a demarcation of powers of institutions like legislature, executive and judiciary as well as statutory bodies, ibsbElection Commission of India, etc.
- The judiciary has been given a specific place to declare any law unconstitutional if not at par the provisions of Constitution.
In the absence of such a demarcation:
- The federal set up would get strained and there would be crisis in center as well as states.
- There would be a problem to the citizens and laws will be proved to be unjust and unfair.
Why is it necessary for a constitution to place limitations on the rulers? Can there be a constitution that gives no power at all to the citizens?
It is necessary for a constitution to place limitations on the rulers:
- These units are fundamental in the sense that the rulers may not trespass them.
- Citizens have been specified certain fundamental rights in Constitution to limit powers of rulers.
- Citizens have been granted some basic rights of liberties also, ibebright to freedom of speech and expressions, freedom to form trade union and associations, etc. which cannot be checked by the government.
- Only during the national emergency or in national interest, these rights may be withdrawn during some specific periods.
- It is necessary for a constitution to place limitations on the rulers otherwise they may turn to be a dictator and may overlook the people’s interest constitution guards and controls the rulers.
No, there can be no constitution that gives no power to its people:
- In a Constitutional monarchy, monarch decides the powers of people.
- In a dictatorship, the ruler is supposed to get the support of people to cling to the power, i.e. Pakistan’s General Musharraf also conducted periodic referendum to hold power.
- In a democratic institutions/Constitution; the people are the real source of power where public mandate is required to enact the policies for rulers.
- These can’t be a Constitution that gives no power at all to the citizens. It is always for the welfare of the citizens of the country.
The Japanese Constitution was made when the US occupation army was still in control of Japan after its defeat in the Second World War. The Japanese constitution could not have had any provision that the US government did not like. Do you see any problem in this way of making the constitution? In which way was the Indian experience different from this?
The Japanese Constitution could not have had any provision that the US government did not like, after the defeat of Japan in Second World War (1939-1945), due to fact that Constitution seeks to perform the functions and look after the interest of the rulers or authorities in the country who has occupied it. But, in a democratic country, a constitution expresses the fundamental identity of people as in India.
Indian experience was different from the experience of Japan in the following manner:
- The Indian Constitution was framed by the Constituent Assembly which was elected to aspire India to be a society free of any sort of discrimination among people.
- The framers of Indian Constitution worked for leading a life of social dignity and social respect along with minimum material well-being and education to an individual.
- Indian Constitution enabled the government to fulfill the aspirations of society, to make it more better.
- Indian Constitution has inculcated the federal spirit with the distribution of powers between the different levels of government as well as bicameral legislatures and independent judiciary have also been set up.
- The Constituent Assembly framed Constitution after a long debates and discussions to provide political, social and legal equalities to the people.
Raj at asked his teacher this question: “The constitution is a fifty year old and therefore outdated book. No one took my consent for implementing it. It is written in such tough language that I cannot understand it. Tell me why should I obey this document?” If you were the teacher, how would you answer Rajat?
Had I been the teacher I would answer Rajat:
- Indian Constitution is a blend of flexibility and rigidity. Hence, despite being fifty years old, it is not outdated as it has been amended a number of times whenever required to be modified from time to time.
- The Constitution was framed by the Constituent Assembly of an elected representatives from every section of society.
- Though Constituent Assembly was dominated by Congress which occupied 82% of the seats in Assembly, but it has representation from every class, religion and communities, regions to accommodate all shades of opinion within it.
- Though it is not possible to consult each and every individual in framing of Constitution, hence, the provisions were made to elect representatives from every section to reflect the people from all these.
In a discussion on the experience of the working of our Constitution, three speakers took three different positions:
(a) Harbans: The Indian Constitution has succeeded in giving us a framework of democratic government.
(b) Neha: The Constitution made solemn promises of ensuring liberty, equality and fraternity. Since this has not happened, the Constitution has failed.
(c) Nazima: The Constitution has not failed us. We have failed the Constitution.
Do you agree with any of these positions? If yes, why? If not, what is your own position?
In the above mentioned conversation of three people focused whether the working of our Constitution is fruitful or not:
- Indian Constitution is a document consisting the supreme and fundamental laws of country about powers, functions and structures of the government.
- Constitution also shows that how the organs of government are interrelated with each other as well as the relationship between the government and its citizens.
- In the Preamble of Constitution, India has been declared A Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic to provide social, economic and political justice to all the citizens along with introduction of universal adult franchise also. But in practice Indian democracy is suffering from various social and economic evils which have proved a curse.
- Equality and freedom of citizens is disturbed on the basis of some unconstitutional activities.
- Though the provisions for free and fair elections have been made even then money and muscle power is prevailing everywhere.
- Sometimes political leaders are found to belong to criminal background and some play the politics of vote bank.
- The judiciary has to interfere in the functioning of executive and legislatures,
- Various problems are still being faced by country, i.e. terrorism, naxalism, communal riots, etc.
Hence, we agree with the position of Neha that the goals which were supposed to be achieved through Constitution, has not still been achieved due to above mentioned facts, so we can say that the Constitution has failed to fulfill the needs of the individuals.
- We have failed the Constitution because we have not applied our sincere efforts towards citizens’ welfare properly.
- Corruption has taken place in public and private sector both, this is not only due to representatives but the citizens are not vigilant and dutiful also.
- The citizens are also supposed to be active in public affairs and to support other citizens in the exercise of the rights and discharge of obligations.
- The citizens should get themselves educated to curb social and economic inequality to implement the Constitution. Hence, it can be concluded that Constitution has not failed us but we have failed the Constitution due to our negligence towards our rights and duties
Extra Questions Solved
Very Short Answer Type Questions
What is the Constitution?
The Constitution of a country is a written document which prescribes it to be a supreme law of the country to decide the structure of the government along with the rights and duties of citizens. The Constitution speaks of who would play a vital role in decision-making powers.
What are the features of the Constitution?
- It is the Supreme Law of Country.
- It maintains a relationship between the government and the citizens of country.
- It constitutes the structure of the government.
- It tells who would play an important role in decision-making powers.
What is the nature of India as per the Preamble of the Indian Constitution?
India is a Sovereign, Secular, Socialist, Democratic and Republic state.
Mention the function of Constitution which set some limits on our government but on the other hand it favors the citizens.
The Constitution sets some limits on what a government can impose on its citizens. These limits are fundamental in the sense that government may never trespass them.
What is the need and importance of a Constitution?
- The Constitution provides a framework within which a government has to work.
- It minimizes the chances of disputes among the various organs of the government as it clearly defines their powers and functions separately.
- It also controls the misuse of power by the government.
- It safeguards the fundamental rights of the citizens.
What do you mean by ‘Democratic’ with special reference to India?
- Democratic denotes to choose democracy as a way of life and run the administration through democratic institutions like legislatures, executive, free and fair judiciary, etc.
- ‘Democratic’ word in Preamble refers to social and economic democracy except political democracy.
What do the political and economic justice stand for?
- Political Justice: Political justice refers to equal political rights to be enjoyed by all the citizens of country where every citizen has right to elect the representatives as well as the right to be elected as representatives.
- Economic Justice: It refers to every citizen to get the equal opportunities to earn one’s livelihood as well as equal payment for equal work.
What is Preamble to the Constitution?
Preamble to the Constitution is an introductory part of Constitution which enables the people to assess and evaluate the performance of government in the light of objectives laid down into the Preamble.
Mention the four main features of Indian Constitution.
- It establishes a Sovereign, democratic republic in India.
- It establishes India as a secular state.
- It has provisions of fundamental rights as well as fundamental duties to the citizens of India.
- It establishes a parliamentary form of government in India.
“India is a secular state”. Justify the statement.
- The word ‘Secular’ was put in the Preamble to Constitution through the 42nd Amendment.
- ‘Secular’ refers that the state has no religion of its own but shows due respect to all religions.
- The state observes complete neutrality in religious matters.
- The 45th Amendment carries equal respect and recognition to all religions.
- No discrimination in India has ever been made against any individual belonging to different communities, religions, castes, etc.
What do you understand by the terms liberty, equality and fraternity in the Preamble to Constitution?
Liberty: It is stated in the Preamble as a goal that the people should have liberty of thought, expression, belief and faith, jfeftthe state should remove the obstacles for the individuals to enjoy freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
Equality: The Preamble to the Constitution always emphasizes to remove any sort of discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, colour, caste, etc. by making the provisions:
- Article 14— Equality of Justice
- Article 15—Social equality
- Article 16—Equality to achieve administrative services
- Article 17—Untouchability is removed (Social inequality)
- Article 18—All the designations except academic and military were finished.
Fraternity: Fraternity refers to brotherhood means equality of all citizens and their integrity. Everybody in society should be provided with the basic right to food, housing and clothing without any discrimination. Every citizen of the state is to be regarded as the part of the decision-making process.
What is the main difference between the position of the head of state in India and that of the USA?
How can you justify that India is a Republic?
India is a Republic because the head of the state is the President who is elected by the Electoral College of the Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly for a fixed period of five years.
The difference between the position of the President of India and the USA is that in the USA, the President is the head of the presidential form of democratic government (real head of executive) whereas in India, President is the head of the parliamentary government, i.e. Prime Minister and his Cabinet is real executive and the President is the nominal head of the state.
What is the Constitution? How can we say that the Constitution is a living document?
A Constitution is a written set of rules and regulations to run the government of a country. It also defines the positions of three organs of the Government, i.e. the executive, the legislature and the judiciary along with maintaining relations between the Government and the citizens.
A Constitution is a living document because:
- It contains provisions to resolve social-economic problems.
- To update at par the provisions of constitution, the amendments are made.
- Judicial interpretations, executive orders, customs also support to the growth of a constitution.
- A Constitution is capable to adopt the new conditions as they arise.
Why should we respect our Constitution?
We should respect our Constitution because:
- A Constitution is a supreme and fundamental law of country.
- A Constitution distributes the powers and functions among the three organs of government, i.e. the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
- The Government of India is composed of principles laid down in a Constitution.
- A Constitution maintains relations between the government and the citizens.
“India is a Sovereign, Democratic, Republic”. Justify the statement.
India as a Sovereign State:
- India has attained a full status of independent statehood.
- India is no longer under subjugation of any foreign power.
- India is free to conduct her internal and external affairs as she deems desirable.
India as a Democratic State:
- The ultimate source of political and constitutional authority in India is vested with the people.
- Elections are held on regular intervals on the basis of adult franchise.
- Equality is the basic principle of a democratic form of government.
- Citizens of India enjoy the justifiable fundamental rights.
- Rule of Law is an essential feature of Indian Democratic State.
India as a Republic:
- The head of the state is the President of India.
- He is elected by the electoral college of parliament and state assemblies after every five years.
Indian Constitution contains some provisions for social justice. Examine.
In India, social justice is lacking due to the fact that persons who enjoy greater wealth and property, have power and others are deprived.
Provisions made in Indian Constitution to end social injustice in India:
- The Indian Constitution has declared the practice of untouchability, a punishable offence.
- The state will provide equal opportunities to all citizens of India.
- No one can be discriminated from using public facilities on the ground of caste, religion, language, etc.
- India works on welfare state’s philosophy to the welfare of people and upliftment of weaker sections.
- Constitution has given special privileges to SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s and even to women and minorities.
Write a note on Constituent Assembly.
- The Indian Constitution was made by Constituent Assembly.
- It held its first sittings on 9 December 1946 and reassembled on 14 August 1947 by the elected members of Provisional Legislative Assemblies through an election.
- It was composed roughly along the lines suggested by Cabinet Mission and on 26 November 1949, 284 actual members appended their signature to the Constitution.
- Constituent Assembly was made seriously a representative body in which the representation from all section of society was made and accommodated all shades of opinion.
- The Assembly took 166 days spread over two years, eleven months and eighteen days to frame the Constitution finally adopted.
What is the philosophy of the Indian Constitution? Discuss.
- Framers of the Constitution expressed their vision for a new society and polity.
- Despite the differences of opinion, the framers reached a consensus to be reflected in the Constitution.
- Indian Constitution was attempted to reach a goal of building a new social order on the basis of democracy, equality, and justice.
- It also projected fundamental rights and civil liberties of Indian citizens alongwith fundamental duties and directive principles of state policy.
- Indian Constitution is based on a liberal-welfare-democratic society to be reflected in the Preamble.
- Thus the philosophy of the Constitution finds its expression in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.
Passage Based Questions
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 18) given below carefully and answer the questions that follow:
“… I have realised as nobody else could have, with what zeal and devotion the members of the Drafting Committee and especially its Chairman, Dr. Ambedkar in spite of his indifferent health, have worked. We could never make a decision which was or could be ever so right as when we put him on the Drafting Committee and made him its Chairman. He has^not only justified his selection but has added lustre to the work which he has done. In. this ‘ connection, it would be invidious to make any distinction as among the other members of the Committee. I know they have all worked with the same zeal and devotion as its Chairman, and they deserve the thanks of the country.”
1. Who was the Chairman of Drafting Committee?
2. What made the Constituent Assembly of India unique?
3. How long the Constitution of India took in framing?
4. Who was the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly?
1. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.
2. Constituent Assembly of India included the members from all shades of opinion who did not simply advance their interest but gave principled reasons to other members.
3. 2 years 11 months and 18 days.
4. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 21) given below carefully and answer the questions that follow:
“One likes to ask whether there can be anything new in a Constitution framed at this hour in the history of the world… The only new things, if there can be any, in a Constitution framed so late in the day are the variations made to remove the faults and to accommodate it to the needs of the country.”
1. Whose words have been referred to here?
2. What was the main new thing according to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar during the process of framing the Indian Constitution?
1. Here, the words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar have been referred to.
2. According to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar the only new thing in the new Constitution framed so late in the day are the variations made to remove the failures and accommodate it to the needs of India.
Long Answer Type Questions
Write the Preamble to the Indian Constitution.
The Preamble: We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: justice, social, economic and political, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
Equality of status and of opportunity, and to promote among them all:
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. In our Constituent Assembly, this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.
What was ‘Objectives Resolution’? Explain.
The best summary of the principles that the nationalist movement brought to the Constituent Assembly is the Objectives Resolution that defines the aims of the Assembly, moved by Nehru in 1946. It encapsulated the aspirations and values behind the Constitution:
- India is an independent, sovereign, republic;
- India shall be a Union of erstwhile British Indian territories, Indian States and other parts outside British India and Indian States as are willing to be a part of the Union.
- Territories forming the Union shall be autonomous units and exercise all powers and functions of the Government and administration, except those assigned to or vested in the Union;
- All people of India shall be guaranteed and secured social, economic and political justice. Equality of status and opportunities and equality before law and fundamental- freedom of speech, expression, belief, faith, worship, association and action-subject to law and public morality.
- The minorities, backward and tribal areas, depressed and other backward classes shall be provided adequate safeguards.
- The land would make full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and welfare of mankind;
- All powers and authority of sovereign and independent India and its constitution shall flow from the people;
- The territorial integrity of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea and air shall be maintained according to justice and law of civilized nations
What are the unique features of Indian Constitution?
The unique features of Indian Constitution are as follows:
- Indian Constitution is written set of rules and regulations and it is the lengthiest Constitution in the world containing 395 articles, 12 schedules and a book of more than 250 pages.
- Indian Constitution has provided to Indian citizens fundamental rights and to establish a welfare state, directive principles of state policy have also been generated.
- By the 42nd Amendment in 1976, some (ten) fundamental duties have also been added up in the Constitution.
- Indian Constitution is federal in structure but unitary in spirit.
- The Indian Constitution is a blend of flexibility and rigidity, i.e. some of the Articles in Constitution can be amended by simple-majority but some require 2/3 majority of the parliament and voting in each house as well as to be ratified by at least half of the state legislatures.
Mention the sources of the Indian Constitution along with the feature taken from these sources.
The Government of India Act, 1935:
About two-thirds of the Indian Constitution is derived from the Government of India Act, 1935
- Provincial autonomy
- Parliamentary system
- Federal count
- Federal system
- Parliamentary form of government
- The idea of the rule of law
- Institution of the speaker and his role
- Law-making procedure
- Single citizenship
- Single integrated judiciary
United States Constitution:
- Charter of Fundamental Rights
- Power of judicial review and independence of the judiciary
- Preamble to Constitution
- Provided for the guidelines to the state
- Included directive principles of state policy
- Principles of liberty
- Principles of equality and fraternity
- A quasi-federal form of government (a federal system with a strong central government).
- The idea of residual powers.
- Emergency provisions
- Indian President’s powers to impose external or internal emergencies.
1. Read the cartoon (NCERT Textbook, page 5) given below and answer the questions that follow:
Does this always happen in any constitution-making?
No, this does not happen in all Constitution-making if the representatives in Constituent Assembly are elected either directly or indirectly from all sections of society, the attempt of framing the Constitution would be successful.
2. Read the cartoon (NCERT Textbook, page 7) given below and answer the questions that follow:
(i) Can you identify what these different groups stand for?
(ii) Who do you think prevailed in this balancing act?
(i) The cartoon refers to different religions, cultures, castes and regions having different preferences, i.e. liberal nationalists and radical nationalists.
(ii) Both the songs ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ were accepted as national heritage. The first is our national anthem and the second is our national song. All the Indians show respect and sing both the songs. Despite so many diversities of languages customs, cultures, festivals the whole country has the same respect for national song and the tricolour. They balance the diversity of India.
3. Read the cartoon (NCERT Textbook, page 9) given below and answer the questions that follow:
(i)What do these different people stand for?
(ii) Compare the conflict depicted here with that depicted in earlier cartoons for the European Union and India.
(i) The cartoon refers to three different ethnic groups in Iraq, i.e. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurdis. The above groups stand for their own philosophies, ideologies and interests.
(ii) The Iraqi people expect to frame a new Constitution and to be accepted by all ethnic groups of Iraq. In the European Union, the attempt of the people failed but in India, the same attempt got success.
4. Read the cartoon (NCERT Textbook, page 14) given below and answer the questions that follow:
(i) Why does the cartoonist describe the new Iraqi Constitution as the castle of cards?
(ii) Would this description apply to the Indian Constitution?
(i) Because it is being prepared by pro-US. The people as well as the Constituent
Assembly of Iraq is not representing all ethnic groups of the country. Hence, the Constitution is imposed and will be scattered as a castle of cards.
(ii) This description does not apply to the Indian Constitution because:
- Indian Constitution is not imposed on Indians, but it was framed from among different shades of opinion after a long discussions and debates.
- It was adopted by people willfully.
- It is a living document to be amended from time to time at par aspirations of people.