Question. The years immediately preceding the making of the Constitution had been exceptionally tumultuous: a time of great hope, but also of disappointment. Explain
Under what pretext the Constituent Assembly met?
Discuss how the political situation of the time may have shaped the nature of the debates within the Constituent Assembly.
❖ 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 and 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 was the rising of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay and other cities in the spring of 1946.
❖ Through late 1940s there were periodic, if scattered, mass protests of workers and peasants. 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 bring about 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.
❖ Innumerable Muslims in India, and Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of sudden death 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.
❖ Problem of the princely states. When the British left India, the constitutional status of these princes remained ambiguous. Many princes did not want to join the Indian Union
This was the background in which the Constituent Assembly met.
Question. What is Objective Resolution?
Answer : On the 13 December1946 Nehru moved the “Objective Resolution” in the constituent Assembly. He proclaimed that India would be an independent Sovereign Republic, guaranteed to its citizens Justice, Equality and Freedom and assured safety to all depressed and backward classes.
Question. Why was the new constitution of Independent India introduced on 26 January 1950?
Answer : Because it was the 20th anniversary of the historical day on which the Congress had declared Complete Independence as its final goal in the Lahore Session in Dec 1929.
Question. Which were the two main dissents of the Indian Constitution?
i) It is being written primarily in English.
ii) Requirement of no educational qualification for any of the post enshrined in it.
Question. When and under which scheme the Constituent Assembly was formed?
Answer : The Constituent Assembly was formed in October 1946 as per the Cabinet Mission Scheme.
Question. When and under whose President ship the first session of all India States People’s Conference was held?
Answer : The first session of all India States People’s Conference was held in 1927 under the presidentship of Diwan Bahadur, M. Ramchan Rai the renowned leader of Ellore.
Question. Name any six leaders who played a very important role in the Constituent Assembly?
Answer : Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr.Rajendra Prasad Sardar patel Dr.B.R.Ambedkar K.M.Munshi Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyar.
Question. Why did Mahatma Gandhi think Hindustani should be the National language?
Answer : By the 1950s, Congress had accepted that Hindustani ought to be the national language. Mahatma Gandhi felt that everyone should speak in a language that common people could easily understand.
Hindustani – a blend of Hindi and Urdu – was a popular language of a large section of the people of India, and it was a composite language enriched by the interaction of diverse cultures. Over the years it had incorporated words and terms from very many different languages and was therefore understood by people from various regions. This multi-cultural language, Mahatma Gandhi thought would be the ideal language of communication between diverse communities, it could unify Hindus and Muslims, and people of the north and south.
Answer : Why is the Indian constitution acceptable to the Indian people even today?
a) The Indian Constitution is acceptable to all because it was based on a broad consensus and did not reflect the views of the drafting committee alone.
b) Even though there was no universal adult Franchise at that time. The constituent assembly consisted of people of all regions and communities making it a miniature India.
c) Eminent people like Maulana Azad and women like Sarojini Naidu played an important part in the constituent assembly as did people of all casts and creeds.
d) Furthermore, the constituent assembly worked in a systematic and open manner.
e) The basic principles were agreed upon, then a draft constitution was prepared for discussion.
f) The draft constitution was discussed thoroughly clause by clause for nearly 3 years before being finalized.
g) Every individual is free to follow. Preach, or profess his/her own religion.
Question. How was the term minority defined by different groups?
Answer : The term minority was defined by different groups in the following ways:
i. Ambedkar demanded separate groups for the minority races.
ii. Hindus and Sikhs, live in so-called Pakistan were not considered a minority race.
iii. Members demanded representation on behalf of the minority in the Constitution.
iv. Nagappa demanded minority status for the Harijans.
iv. Ambedkar demanded separate Constituencies for the minorities.
Question. What was the ‘language controversy, before the Constitution Assembly and how did it seek to resolve the controversy?
Answer : Language Controversy: Hindustani (Hindi+Urdu) started getting separated due to communal parties.
• Language became politicized for communal identity.
• R.V. Dhulekar supported Hindi to be made the language of the Constitution.
• It created a furor (debate) in the Constituent Assembly which was mediated by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru.
Solutions: Proceeded slow to make Hindi as the National Language. Some supported official work to be continued for 15 years in English. After implementation of the Constitution and Provinces to choose regional language for daily work. Constituent Assembly:
i. Hindi – to become National Language gradually.
ii. But not Rajbhasha
Question. What were the ideals expressed in the Objective Resolution?
Answer : It was Jawaharlal Nehru who presented Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly on 13th December 1946. He proposed that the National Flag of India be a ‘horizontal tricolor of saffron, white and dark green in equal proportion’, with a wheel in navy blue at the centre. It outlined and defined the ideals and objectives of the Constitution which are as follows:
1. India was declared an independent sovereign Republic.
2. It assured justice, equality, liberty, and fraternity to all its citizens.
3. It provided adequate safeguards to minorities.
4. It referred to the well-being of the backward and depressed classes.
5. India would combine the liberal ideas of democracy with the socialist idea of economic Justice.
6. India would adopt that form of government that would be acceptable to its
people. No imposition from the British would be accepted by the Indian people.
7. India would be a federation.
8.India would work for world peace and human welfare.
Question. What were the arguments in favour of great power to the provinces?
Answer : In the Constituent Assembly, the rights of the states were mostly defended by K.Santhanam, a member from madras. He emphasized the need to strengthen the states.
• K.Santhanam was in opposition to the center being vested with more powers.
• He felt that an overburdened centre would not be able to fulfill its responsibilities
in an effective manner.
• The centre would become strong if all the states are made stronger.
• He advocated that centre should be given fewer powers and states should be given more.
• K.Santhanam was not happy with the proposed allocation of powers between the centere
and the states.
• He felt that such a distribution of power would cripple the states.
Question. How was the Central Government made more powerful and strong by the Constituent Assembly?
Answer : Most of the members of the Constituent Assembly were in favor of strong central government of India.
• Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru wanted a strong central as he felt, writing a letter to the President of the Constituent Assembly, that, “it would be injurious to the interests of the country to provide for a weak authority.” He was, in fact, convinced that only a strong central government could ensure peace and stability.
• The Union List contained more subjects than the state list.
• Regarding the concurrent list, the center, and the state shared the responsibility. But in case of any disputes center’s decision is recommended.
• The center enjoyed control over many important and key industriesQ.15. What are the different arguments being put forward in favour of separate electorates?
Question. Arguments of N.G. Ranga
Answer : While welcoming the Objectives Resolution, N.G. Ranga, a socialist who had been a leader of the peasant movement, urged that the term minorities be interpreted in economic terms.
The real minorities for Ranga were the poor and downtrodden.
He welcomed the legal rights that the Constitution was granted to each individual but pointed to its limits.
It was essential to create conditions where these constitutionally enshrined rights could be effectively enjoyed. For this they needed protection.
“They need props. (respect) They need a ladder,” said Ranga. Ranga also drew attention to the gulf that separated the broad masses of Indians and those claiming to speak on their behalf in the Constituent Assembly:
Whom are we supposed to represent? The ordinary masses of our country. And yet most of us do not belong to the masses themselves. He argued that “We are of them, we wish to stand for them, but the masses themselves are not able to come up to the Constituent Assembly. It may take some time; in the meanwhile, we are here as their trustees, as their champions, and we are trying our best to speak for them.
Welcoming the Objectives Resolution introduced by Jawaharlal Nehru, N.G. Ranga said: there is a lot of talk about minorities and viewed that the real minorities are not the Hindus in the so-called Pakistan provinces, not the Sikhs, not even the Muslims but the masses of this country.
These people are so depressed and oppressed and suppressed till now that they are not able to take advantage of ordinary civil rights. He further quoted from the tribal history that they have their own traditional law, their tribal law, their lands cannot be alienated. Yet our merchants and the money-lenders go there, and in the so-called free market, they are able to snatch their lands.
There is no elementary education even among these people. These are the real minorities that need protection and assurances of protection. In order to give them the necessary protection, we will need much more than this Resolution…
Question. Arguments of Jaipal Singh, representative of the tribals
Answer : In welcoming the Objectives Resolution, Singh said: … as an Adibasi, I am not expected to understand the legal intricacies of the Resolution. But my common sense tells me that every one of us should march on that road to freedom and fight together. He argued that if there is any group of Indian people that has been shabbily treated it is my people. They have been disgracefully treated, neglected for the last 6,000 years. …
The whole history of those people is one of continuous exploitation and dispossession by the non-aboriginals of India punctuated by rebellions and disorder, and yet I take Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at his word. Singh spoke eloquently on the
need to protect the tribes, and ensure conditions that could help them come up to the level of the general population.
He made a moving plea for breaking the emotional and physical distance that separated the tribals from the rest of society: “Our point is that you have got to mix with us. We are willing to mix with you …”. Singh was not asking for separate electorates, but he felt that reservation of seats in the legislature was essential to allow tribals to represent themselves. It would be away, he said, of compelling others to hear the voice of tribals, and come near them.
Question. Aguements of Ambedkar: “We were suppressed for thousands of years” –
Answer : Ambedkar demanded separate electorates for the Depressed Castes. During the national movement, Ambedkar had demanded separate electorates for the Depressed Castes, and Mahatma Gandhi had opposed it, arguing that this would permanently segregate them from the rest of society.
Question. Arguments of J. Nagappa from Madras. (Depressed Castes)
Answer : Nagappa from Madras pointed out that, the disabilities of the depressed class were caused by the social norms and the moral values of caste society. Society had used their services and labour but kept them at a social distance, refusing to mix with them or dine with them or allow them entry into temples. He said that“We have been suffering, but we are prepared to suffer no more,” He added that numerically the Depressed
Castes were not a minority: they formed between 20 and 25 percent of the total population. Their suffering was due to their systematic marginalisation, not their numerical insignificance. Being suppressed for thousands of years they had no access to education, no share in the administration.
Question. Aguements of K.J. Khanderkar
Answer : Addressing the assembly, K.J. Khanderkar of the Central Provinces said: We were suppressed for thousands of years. … suppressed… to such an extent that neither our minds nor our bodies and now even our hearts work, nor are we able to march forward.
Question. Aguements of Hansa Mehta demanding for social justice
Hansa Mehta of Bombay demanded justice for women, not reserved seats, or separate electorates.
Answer : We have never asked for privileges. What we have asked for is social justice, economic justice, and political justice. We have asked for that equality which alone can be the basis of mutual respect and understanding, without which real cooperation is not possible between man and woman.
The dominant voices
Very important Members
The Constituent Assembly had 300 members in all. 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.
B R 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.
Question. Why is ‘Objective Resolution’ of Nehru considered as momentous resolution? Give two reasons?
Answer : The objective resolution was considered as a momentous resolution because:
It outlined the defining ideals of the Constitution of Independent India and provided a framework within which constitution-making was to proceed.
It proclaimed India to be an “Independent Sovereign Republic”
Question. Mention any two arguments given by Balakrishna Sharma for greater power to the centre.
Answer : Balakrishna Sharma said the following things in favour of greater power to the centre:
He said a strong centre could plan for the well-being of the country and it can mobilise the available economic resources of the country.
A strong centre can establish proper administration and defend the country against foreign invasion.
Question. Describe the different arguments made in favour of protection on of depressed class in the Constituent Assembly.
Answer : The following arguments were made in favour of the protection of depressed classes in the Constituent Assembly:
1. It was realized that the depressed classes especially tribals and untouchables needed special attention and safeguards to raise their status in society and provide them equality. But some members of the depressed class emphasized that the problem of the “Untouchables” could not be resolved through protection and safeguards alone.
2. These members believed that the disabilities of the depressed class were caused by the social norms and the moral values of a caste-divided society. The depressed class had been left in isolation with this belief that they are not born to be fit in the civil society. Their suffering was due to their systematic marginalization. They had no access to education and also had no share in the administration. Thus, in the Constituent Assembly, many recognised that social discrimination could not solve only through constitutional legislation, there had to be a change in the attitudes within society.
Question. “The discussions within the Constituent Assembly were also influenced by the opinions expressed by the public”. Examine the statement.
Answer : The public opinion had a considerable effect on the discussions of the Constituent Assembly that were:
There was a public debate on all the resolutions.
The newspapers reported the arguments presented by different members on any issue.
Criticisms and counter-criticism in the press shaped the nature of the consensus that was ultimately reached on specific issues.
Suggestions from the public were also welcomed which created a sense of collective participation.
Many linguistic minorities demanded protection of their mother tongue. Religious minorities asked for special safeguards.
The group’s low caste or Dalits demanded an end to ill-treatments by upper caste people and reservation of separate seats on the basis of their population in legislatures.
Important issues of cultural rights and social justice raised in the public discussions were debated in the Assembly.
In the same way, groups of religious minorities came forward and asked for special safeguards.
Question. A communist member Somnath Lahiri saw the dark hand of British. imperialism hanging over the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly”. Examine the statement and give your own views in support of your answer. (All India 2012)
Answer : The statement implies that Somnath Lahiri saw the influence of the British imperialism over the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly.
As a result, he urged the members to completely free themselves from the influences of imperial rule. During the winter of 1946-47, when the assembly was constituted, the British were still in India.
An interim administration headed by • Jawaharlal Nehru was in place, but it could only operate under the directions of the viceroy and the British Government in London. Lahiri exhorted his colleagues to realise that the Constituent Assembly was British made and was working on the British plans as the British should like it to be worked out.
Question. How did Constituent Assembly of India protected the powers of the Central government? Explain.
Answer : India achieved its independence on 15 th August, 1947 and was also divided into two parts i.e. India and Pakistan. Before the partition, the Constituent Assembly did not communicate itself in commendation of a strong Central Government, but after the declaration of partition on 3rd June, 1947, Constituent Assembly considered itself free from all restrictions inflicted by Cabinet Mission and political pressures.
Constituent Assembly decided to opt for a federation along with strong centre.
Dr BR Ambedkar and Jawaharalal Nehru propounded a strong Central Government for India. They mentioned to the riots ‘and violence that were fearing the nation apart and stated that only a strong centre can stop the communal disharmony.
Balakrishna Sharma focused on length of the nation and stated that only a centre, which was powerful could plan for the well-being of the country. Strong centre would help in mobilizing available economic resources and proper administration was possible only through strong Centre. In spite of arguments of the centre has likely to break or inefficiency of the centre, the rights of the states were most impressively defended by K Santhanam from Madras.
Also, the decision of the Constituent Assembly to have a strong centre was occasioned by the situations in which it was taken. Most of the members felt that strong centre was the need of the hour. It was necessary to ensure peace, prosperity and political stability, and hence, Gopala swami Ayyangar requested to make centre as strong as possible.