Constitution Day in India is celebrated every year on November 26th. It is not a public holiday, but is widely celebrated throughout the country. On the occasion of the holiday, various events are held in Indian cities – marches, demonstrations, competitions, competitions and meetings.
The Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, two years after Indian independence. In it, India is declared a sovereign, democratic republic, guaranteeing justice, equality, and freedom to its citizens. The words “socialist” and “secular” were added to the definition of India in 1976 as a result of a constitutional amendment.
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the largest constitution in the world, with 448 articles, 12 major annexes and 103 amendments, and consists of 117,369 words in the English version, in addition to which there is also an official Hindi translation. Every law passed by the government must be in accordance with the constitution, since it is the supreme law of the state.
The main content of the Indian constitution refers to the most important aspects of the social and state system, as well as the legal status of the individual. The authors of the Constitution of India sought to combine in it all the best constitutional achievements of other states. In particular, the Indian constitution borrowed a number of provisions of the constitutional acts of the British Constitution, as well as the constitutions of the USSR, USA, Canada, Japan and Australia.
The Indian constitution provides for an extremely simple amendment procedure, which has resulted in hundreds of different provisions being amended during its existence, making it more adaptable to the existing situation. About 80 new articles were added to the constitution and about 20 were excluded. In total, more than five hundred changes to the text were made. Amendments are either directly introduced into the text of the Constitution, changing it, or attached to it. Some amendments are close in scope to the US Constitution.
It is possible to single out such most important characteristic features of the Indian constitution as the legal consolidation of the sovereignty of India, a negative attitude towards social inequality, the proclamation of a wide range of rights, freedoms and duties of citizens, taking into account such specific features of Indian society as the consolidation of the principle of a mixed economy with a large role of the public sector, a combination of traditional Indian institutions with institutions that have emerged as a result of the global development of constitutional law, a policy of maintaining global peace and security with the paramount role of Indian interests.
B. R. Ambedkar and the Constitution of Independent India
Indians politics state B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) is a prominent political figure in India, a fighter for the rights of the lower castes, the so-called “untouchables”. Historians and politicians in his homeland and beyond consider him one of the fathers of the Constitution of sovereign India.
The personality and political views of Ambedkar are still poorly studied by domestic Indologists. Except for several works by E. S. Yurlova, which highlight the main stages of his political biography,1 it is perhaps impossible to find an author who was seriously involved in the development of this problem. At the same time, it is not superfluous to say that Russian libraries and depositories contain the main scientific and political works of the outstanding Indian.
The works of foreign authors in English about the life and work of Dr. Ambedkar are also available. We hope that representatives of the younger generation of Russian Indologists will not disregard a political figure of such a large scale as BR Ambedkar. A representative of one of the most numerous lower castes of Maharashtra, the Mahars, he managed to get a secondary education at home and then continue it abroad. In 1916 Ambedkar graduated from a university in the USA.
In 1921, in the United Kingdom, he received a Bachelor of Laws degree. In 1922-1923. studied at the University of Bonn in Germany. In 1923, the University of London awarded him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Immediately, he successfully passed the special examinations for the right to practice law.
His name was entered in the list of lawyers in the Supreme Court of Great Britain. In the 20s. in India he worked as a lecturer in a number of colleges, as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Bombay. In his social activities, he sought to ensure that the problemuntouchability was decided as social, defended the right of the untouchables to have their own electoral curia.
He managed to create the organizational foundations of the untouchable movement in India as a democratic independent force. In the 1930s, a stormy social and political activity of Dr. Ambdkar unfolded. He repeatedly had conflict situations on the issue of eliminating “untouchability” in India as a social phenomenon with Mahatma Gandhi , who called on caste Hindus to abandon the ancient custom of untouchability.
In 1933, Gandhi even went on a hunger strike to protest the problem of creating special electoral curia for the untouchables. Then Ambedkar went to extremes. He encouraged the untouchables and other lower castes to convert to Buddhism . In 1934, 10,000 untouchables in the city of Nagpur announced publicly that they were converting to the Buddhist religion. Contradictions between Mahatma Gandhi and the leader of the untouchables had far-reaching consequences – Buddhism returned to Indiawhere he was virtually forgotten.
The height of B. R. Ambedkar’s political career was his participation in the preparation of the text of the Constitution of the Republic of India, which has been in force since January 26, 1950 until today. When the Constitutional Assembly of India was convened in 1946 and the issue of drafting the Basic Document of Sovereign India was raised, none other than Dr. Ambedkar was nominated to head the drafting committee.
Despite strained personal relations with the applicant, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru recommended him to lead the process of preparing the text of the Constitution4. A man of squeaky personal integrity, India’s foremost expert on legal and constitutional matters, he undertook the laborious task.
Dr. Ambedkar, despite having studied in the United States and having a highly positive attitude towards the American constitutional system, the laws of Germany and other Western countries, nonetheless recognized the profound complexity of defining and resolving India’s social ethnic and caste problems in the context of its Basic Law. He prepared, with the participation of J. Nehru and other prominent Indian politicians, a Draft Constitution, which world history did not know.
It was based on non-communist democratic principles. Personally, he believed that the Napoleonic Code of 1804, the lawsand the principles of the Great French bourgeois revolution of the late 18th century. can become a legal base on which even such a purely medieval society as Indian can solve many of its social and legal problems.
In addition, he categorically opposed the appeal to the principles of Anglo-Saxon case law, the traditions of which the British colonialists brought to India. As is known, in his searches, Dr. Ambedkar did not refer to the Constitution of the USSR, although here one could borrow the principles of solving the ethnic and territorial problems of a multinational, multi-confessional India.
The constitution prepared by Dr. Ambedkar and his colleagues has been in force for 50 years. It declares the federal, republican, democratic state structure of India. Many of the principles of this document could be successfully used for the qualitative improvement of the constitution currently in force in the Russian Federation.
The positive content of the Indian constitution lies in the fact that none of the other current constitutions has such deep and comprehensive definitions of fundamental human rights. Dr. Ambedkar succeeded in upholding and defending the rights of the world’s great religions in India in a constitutional document, but also categorically defending the rights of religious minorities, both traditional and modernist.
The experience of B. R. Ambedkar in his constitutional work can be quite in demand on Russian soil. In 1951, due to socio-political disagreements with J. Nehru on the secularization of traditional Hindu law, he resigned from the post of Minister of Justice of India. He was not elected to the lower house of parliament in 1952. In the future, he is engaged in social and political activities, focusing on the religious and social policy of the government of the All India National Congress.
In the conditions of aggravation of inter-caste contradictions, he again turns to the spread of Buddhism in India among the untouchables. In his opinion, Buddhism and its practice do not violate the cultural and religious tradition of India. In October 1956, more than 300,000 mahars converted to Buddhism at a solemn ceremony dedicated to Buddha’s birthday. It should be noted that the Government of India, quite late, was able to fully appreciate Ambadkar’s contribution to the formation of the constitutional system of free India.
Only since 1985 has his birthday been officially celebrated. We hope that the wide celebration in Russia of the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution of sovereign India will give impetus to a deeper study of the political heritage of its creators, among them BR Ambedkar.