The Constitution of India is a fundamental document that lays out the structure of the Indian government and the rights and duties of its citizens. As an IAS aspirant, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the Constitution, particularly the Preamble, as it forms the basis of the Indian political system and is an important component of the UPSC polity syllabus (GS-II).
To prepare for the Indian Polity section of competitive exams such as the IAS Exam, it is crucial to familiarize oneself with the basics of the Constitution, including its history, key features, and amendments. This knowledge will provide a comprehensive understanding of the Indian political system and help in answering questions related to it.
This article is a comprehensive guide that delves deep into the intricacies of the Constitution of India, providing you with a wealth of relevant information and insights that will elevate your understanding of this fundamental document. From its historical background to its key features and amendments, this article covers all the essential details that will enable you to gain a thorough and nuanced understanding of the Constitution and its central role in shaping the Indian political system. This is an opportunity for you to gain an edge in your studies and excel in your understanding of the Indian polity.
What is the Constitution of India? – Introduction to the Constitution of India
The Indian Constitution, adopted in 1950, is a distinct and remarkable document that embodies the values and aspirations of the Indian people. Although it draws inspiration from various constitutions from around the world, it is truly a unique piece of work that reflects the country’s unique history, culture, and political climate. One of the most important aspects of the Indian Constitution is that it is a living document, which means that it has been amended several times over the years to adapt to the changing needs of the country. Some of the significant amendments include the 7th, 42nd, 44th, 73rd, and 74th Amendments, which have brought forth changes in various provisions such as Panchayat Raj and Municipalities, Fundamental duties, Emergency Provisions, and Reservation of Seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively. These amendments have played a crucial role in shaping the political and social landscape of India and are integral to understanding the country’s current political and social scenario.
Important Amendments of the Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is not a strict one. It can be amended by Parliament if certain rules are followed. The Indian Constitution has undergone numerous changes. Among the significant amendments to the Indian Constitution are:
The 42nd Amendment
The 44th Amendment
The 42nd Amendment is also known as the “Mini Constitution” because it made several significant changes to the United States Constitution. This was during the 1976 Emergency. In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the constituent power of Parliament under Article 368 does not allow it to change the basic structure of the constitution.
Constitution of India – Preamble
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is a powerful and eloquent introduction that sets the tone for the entire document. It is a reflection of the aspirations, values, and principles that form the foundation of the Indian nation. The Preamble was inspired by the American Constitution, which was the first to start with a preamble, and it is widely considered to be the ‘Identity card’ of the Indian Constitution, as referred by N A Palkhivala, a renowned constitutional expert.
Also Read:- Biography of Bhim Rao Ambedkar
The Preamble is based on Pandit Nehru’s Objective Resolution, which he moved and was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It encapsulates the essence of the Constitution and serves as a guiding principle for the nation’s governance. In 1976, the 42nd Amendment added the words ‘socialist’, ‘secular’, and ‘integrity’ to the Preamble, further strengthening the Constitution’s commitment to providing a just and equitable society for all its citizens. The Preamble is not only a testament to the vision and foresight of the framers of the Constitution but also a powerful symbol of the nation’s unity and resolve. It is a powerful reminder of the aspirations of the Indian people and the principles that guide the nation’s destiny.
Ingredients of the Preamble
The Preamble provides four components:
- The power of the constitution is derived from the people of India, according to the constitution.
- It states that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republican state.
- The Constitution’s objectives are as follows: justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.
- Adoption date of the Constitution: November 26, 1949
Why Constitution of India is called Bag of Borrowing?
The Indian Constitution, which was adopted in 1950, is a document that draws inspiration from various constitutions around the world. The country’s founding fathers, who were responsible for drafting the Constitution, were wise enough to recognize the need to borrow features from other nations and tailor them to the specific needs of India. They carefully studied the constitutions of other countries and adopted those features that they deemed most suitable for India.
Also Read: Biography of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Some of the key influences on the Indian Constitution include the British parliamentary system, the American system of checks and balances, and the French concept of the Republic. Additionally, the Indian Constitution also incorporates features from the constitutions of Ireland, South Africa, Japan, and the Soviet Union. For example, the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy are similar to those found in the Irish Constitution, while the provision for the appointment of a public defender is borrowed from the South African Constitution. The Indian Constitution is also heavily influenced by the concept of the welfare state, which is a feature of the constitutions of many European countries.
In summary, the Indian Constitution is a unique document that reflects the country’s unique history, culture, and political climate, but it was made possible by borrowing good features from other nations. This combination of various influences has resulted in a Constitution that best suits India and its people.
|British||The legislative system The Lower House of Parliament is more powerful than the Upper House under the Constitution. The Council of Ministers’ accountability to Parliament The dominance of the rule of law|
|US||Fundamental Rights Preamble Vice-Presidential Functions Constitutional Amendment The Supreme Court’s composition and functions Independence of the judicial system|
|Australian||List of concurrent authorities Procedure for resolving a deadlock between the Centre and the States over concurrent subjects|
|Irish||State Policy Directive Principles The procedure for nominating Rajya Sabha members|
|Weimer Constitution of Germany||Powers of the President|
|Canadian||The Union of India’s provisions for a strong nation name Having residuary authority|
|South African||The procedure for amending legislation with a two-thirds majority in Parliament (for more information on the different types of amendments, see the linked article.) Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected using proportional representation by the state legislatures.|
Features of the Indian Constitution
The following are the main features of the Indian Constitution:
Federal System with Unitary Bias
The Indian Constitution establishes a federal system of government in India, which is characterized by the division of powers and responsibilities between the central government and the state governments. The Constitution contains all the expected features of a federal system such as two levels of government, a written constitution that is supreme and rigid, bicameralism, and the division of powers between the Centre and the states. The Constitution allocates powers to the central and state government through the 7th Schedule, Union List, State List, and Concurrent List. These lists provide a clear demarcation of the powers and responsibilities of the central and state government.
However, the Constitution also incorporates many features of a unitary system of government, such as a strong central government, single citizenship, flexibility of the Constitution, all-India services, integrated judiciary, the appointment of state governors by the Centre, emergency provisions, and so on. This unique combination of federal and unitary features in the Indian Constitution creates a unique system of government known as “quasi-federal,” which is a federal system with a strong central government and limited autonomy for the states.
It is important to note that the term “federation” is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Instead, Article 1 of the Constitution states that India is a “Union of States,” which implies that the Indian federation is not the result of an agreement by the states and that the states do not have the right to secede from the federation. The Indian Constitution also has a provision for a Single Constitution and Single Citizenship, which means that all citizens of India are treated equally and there is no differentiation between citizens of different states.
In summary, the Indian Constitution is a unique document that establishes a federal system of government with a strong central government, which balances the need for decentralization and the need for a strong central government to maintain national unity and integrity. The Constitution has a clear demarcation of the powers and responsibilities of the central and state government and has provisions for the protection of the rights and welfare of citizens.
Parliamentary Form of Government
The parliamentary form of government, also known as the Westminster model or responsible government, is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive branches of government. This form of government was borrowed from the British system and is characterized by the fusion of the executive and legislative branches, where the members of the executive are also members of the legislature. This allows for greater accountability and responsiveness to the people, as the executive is directly accountable to the legislature.
In India, this form of government is followed not only at the centre but also in the states. The Indian Constitution provides for a parliamentary form of government at the centre, with the President as the nominal head of the state and the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and is responsible for the administration of the government. Similarly, in the states, the Governor is the nominal head of the state, and the Chief Minister is the head of the government. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor and is responsible for the administration of the state government.
Under the parliamentary form of government, the Cabinet, which is headed by the Prime Minister, is responsible for the administration of the government. The Cabinet is made up of the Prime Minister and other Ministers, who are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is responsible for the formulation and implementation of government policies. The Cabinet is also responsible for the overall administration of the government, and its members are collectively responsible to the legislature.
In summary, the parliamentary form of government, borrowed from the British system, is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive branches. This form of government is characterized by the fusion of the executive and legislative branches, where the members of the executive are also members of the legislature, and it is followed in India not only at the center but also in the states. The parliamentary form of government is known for its accountability, responsiveness, and adaptability to the changing needs of the country.
The following are the characteristics of India’s parliamentary form of government:
- Nominal and real executives
- Rule of the majority party
- Collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature
- Membership of the ministers in the legislature
- The leadership of the prime minister or the chief minister
- Dissolution of the lower House
Even though both follow the parliamentary form of government, there are some fundamental differences between the Indian and British models. The Indian parliament is not a sovereign institution; the British Parliament is. Furthermore, the Indian state has an elected he
ad (due to its status as a republic), whereas the British head, is hereditary (since Britain is a constitutional monarchy).
Parliament: Structural and Functional Dimensions
- There is a Parliament and two Houses or chambers, according to Article 79: the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).
- The President is both the head of the executive and a member of the legislature. He serves the Parliament in a variety of capacities.
- The president, however, is not permitted to attend or participate in the house debates.
- When necessary, the president summons and prorogues the houses.
- He is also an important part of the legislative process in India, as he must give his assent to every bill passed before it can become law.
- He possesses the authority to dissolve the Lok Sabha.
- The President delivers a special address to both chambers at the start of the first session following each general election to the Lok Sabha, as well as at the start of the first session each year.
- Article 123 also empowers the president to issue ordinances. (For more information on President, see the linked article.)
An introduction to the Indian Constitution will assist UPSC aspirants in drawing key facts for polity answers in the Mains GS-II paper. Also, while an essay on the Indian Constitution is not directly asked for in the paper, certain relevant facts about the Indian Constitution can be used in other polity-related essays.
Question with Multiple Choices
Consider the following assertions:
- The Indian Constitution contains 12 Schedules. One of the first references to Schedules was in the Government of India Act, of 1935, which included ten Schedules. When the Indian Constitution was adopted in 1949, it included eight schedules. With the amendments to the Indian Constitution, there are now 12 Schedules.
- The Tenth Schedule contains provisions concerning the disqualification of members of Parliament and state legislatures for defection. The 52nd Amendment Act of 1985, also known as the Anti-defection Law, added this schedule.
- In a court of law, the preamble is neither enforceable nor justifiable. This means that courts in India cannot issue orders compelling the government to implement the ideas in the Preamble. The preamble can be changed, and it has only been changed once, by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976.
- A constitutional amendment can be initiated only by introducing a bill in either House of Parliament (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha), not in state legislatures.
- The bill can be introduced by either a minister or a private member and does not require the president’s prior approval.
Choose the correct answer from the options provided below.
A) None of the preceding statements are true.
B) Statements 1 and 4 are the only ones that are correct.
C) Only statements 1 and 3 are correct.
D) All of the statements above are correct.
Consider the following assertions:
There is a Parliament and two Houses or chambers, according to Article 79: the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).
The Supreme Court’s nature and functions are based on the US Constitution.
The Irish Constitution serves as a model for the Directive Principles of State Policy.
The election of Rajya Sabha members through proportional representation by state legislatures is modeled after the South African Constitution.
Choose the correct answer from the options provided below.
A)All of the statements above are correct.
B)All of the preceding statements are false.
C) Only option (4) is correct.
D) Option (1) is the only one that is false.
Answer: Option (a) – All of the preceding statements are correct.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Constitution of India
Who is known as the Father of the Indian Constitution?
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is known as the “Father of the Indian Constitution.” He was the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constituent Assembly and the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. He played a pivotal role in drafting the Constitution and his ideas and vision continue to shape the political and social landscape of India. He was appointed as the chairman of the drafting committee in 1947, and the Constitution was adopted on 26th January 1950. He is considered as the main architect of the Indian Constitution and his role in shaping the Indian Constitution is widely acknowledged.
How many laws are there in the Indian Constitution?
The Indian Constitution is a complex document that contains a total of 448 articles, divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules. These articles cover a wide range of topics, including the structure of the government, the rights and duties of citizens, the distribution of powers between the central and state governments, and the administration of justice. Additionally to the articles, there are also several other laws, rules and regulations that are enacted by the Central and State Governments, which are not part of the Constitution but are necessary to govern the country. These laws are passed by the parliament and state legislative assembly and are known as Statutes. The number of statutes in the Indian legal system is quite large and new laws are added regularly.
How many constitutions are there in India?
India has only one Constitution. The Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November 1949 and it came into effect on 26th January 1950. It is the supreme law of the land and lays out the framework for the government, the rights of citizens, and the relationship between the central and state governments. It replaced the Government of India Act 1935 and serves as the basis for the country’s political and legal system. The Constitution of India is a unique document that reflects the country’s unique history, culture, and political climate. It is a living document that has undergone several amendments over the years to adapt to the changing needs of the country.
Which is the largest Constitution?
The Constitution of India is the longest-written Constitution of any sovereign country in the world. It was adopted on 26th November 1949 and came into effect on 26th January 1950, it contains a total of 448 articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules and has undergone more than 100 amendments. The Constitution lays out the framework for the government, the rights of citizens, and the relationship between the central and state governments. It also includes provisions for the protection of the rights and welfare of citizens and the functioning of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches of the government.
Who signed Indian Constitution first?
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who later served as the first President of India, was the first person to sign the Indian Constitution. The Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and was signed by the members of the Assembly on the same day. The Constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950, which is now celebrated as Republic Day in India. The signing ceremony was attended by all the members of the Constituent Assembly, and the Constitution was signed in both Hindi and English. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, as the President of the Constituent Assembly, was the first to sign the Constitution, followed by other members of the Assembly.
Where is the original Constitution of India?
The original Constitution of India is kept in the Parliament Library of India, also known as the Library of the Parliament of India located in the Parliament House in New Delhi. The Constitution is written in Hindi and English and is bound in a maroon leather cover. The original Constitution is a hand-written document, with calligraphic handwriting, and is considered a valuable national treasure. The Constitution is on display for public viewing on special occasions such as Constitution Day (26th November) and Republic Day (26th January). The Constitution is kept in a specially designed helium-filled case to preserve it from any kind of damage.
What is the first line of the Indian Constitution?
The first line of the Indian Constitution is the preamble which states:
“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.”
The preamble is a brief introductory statement that summarizes the Constitution’s main objectives and principles. It sets the tone for the entire Constitution and encapsulates the essence of the Constitution. The preamble is not a part of the Constitution that can be amended, but it has been interpreted by the courts as an aid to interpreting the Constitution.
Why is it called Indian Constitution?
The Indian Constitution is called such because it is the supreme law of the land of India, it lays out the framework for the government of India, the rights of Indian citizens, and the relationship between the central and state governments of India. The Constitution defines the fundamental political principles, procedures, practices, rights, and duties of citizens, and the powers and functions of the government. It outlines the structure, organization, and powers of the government, including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and the powers of the central and state governments. It also includes provisions for the protection of the rights and welfare of citizens and the functioning of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches of the government. It was adopted for the newly independent India in 1949 and came into effect on 26th January 1950.
What is Constitution stand for?
A Constitution is the supreme law of a country that establishes the framework for the government, the rights and duties of citizens, and the relationship between the different branches and levels of government. It lays out the basic principles and rules that govern the country, and it defines the relationship between the government and the governed. The Constitution serves as the foundation of a nation’s legal system and it is the highest source of authority in the country. It is a document that outlines the fundamental rights, duties, and powers of citizens, and the basic structure and organization of the government. It also includes provisions for the protection of the rights and welfare of citizens and the functioning of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches of the government. The Constitution is a living document, which means it can be amended over time to adapt to the changing needs of the country.
What is the nickname of the Constitution why?
The Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” is a nickname that speaks to the unshakable strength and resilience of this fundamental document. It was not named for its actual iron sides, but for its ability to withstand even the most formidable attacks, much like the USS Constitution, a powerful warship that sailed during the War of 1812. During a battle with a British warship, cannonballs were unable to penetrate its sides, earning it the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Similarly, the Constitution of a nation is the foundation upon which the nation is built, and it is the backbone that holds the nation together. It is a document that has stood the test of time, and it will continue to guide and protect the nation for generations to come.