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:
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
[“SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC” and “unity of the Nation” substituted by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976]
What is a ‘Preamble’?
The Preamble is like an introduction or preface of a book. As an introduction, it is not a part of the contents but it explains the purposes and objectives with which the document has been written. So is the case with the ‘Preamble’ to the Indian Constitution. As such the ‘Preamble’ provides the guide lines of the Constitution.
The Preamble, in brief, explains the objectives of the Constitution in two ways –
- one, about the structure of the governance and
- the other, about the ideals to be achieved in independent India.
It is because of this, the Preamble is considered to be the key of the Constitution.
Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic
Sovereignty is one of the foremost elements of any independent State. It means absolute independence, i.e., a government which is not controlled by any other power – internal or external. A country cannot have its own constitution without being sovereign. India is a sovereign country. It is free from external control. It can frame its policies. India is free to formulate its own foreign policy.
The word socialist was not there in the Preamble of the Constitution in its original form. In 1976, the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution incorporated ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’, in the Preamble.
The word ‘Socialism’ had been used in the context of economic planning. It signifies major role in the economy. It also means commitment to attain ideals like removal of inequalities, provision of minimum basic necessities to all, equal pay for equal work.
In the Directive Principles of the State Policy, these ideals have been incorporated as well as partly, implemented in the Constitution.
In the context of secularism in India, it is said that ‘India is neither religious, nor irreligious nor anti-religious.’
Now what does this imply? It implies that in India there will be no ‘State’ religion – the ‘State’ will not support any particular religion out of public fund. This has two implications –
- a) every individual is free to believe in, and practice, any religion he/she belongs to, and,
- b) State will not discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of religion.
The Preamble to the Constitution reads as, that the Constitution belongs to the people of India. The last line of the Preamble says ‘…. Hereby Adopt, Enact And Give To Ourselves This Constitution’.
In fact the Democratic principles of the country flow from this memorable last line of the Preamble. Democracy is generally known as government of the people, by the people and for the people. Effectively this means that the Government is elected by the people, it is responsible and accountable to the people.
The democratic principles are highlighted with the provisions of universal adult franchise, elections, fundamental rights, and responsible government.
The Preamble also declares India as a Republic. It means that the head of the State is the President who is indirectly elected and he is not a hereditary ruler as in case of the British Monarch.
Justice, Liberty and Equality
The struggle for freedom was not only against the British rule but their struggle should also usher in an era of restoring the dignity of men and women, removal of poverty and end to all types of exploitation.
Such strong motivations and cherished ideals had prompted the framers to lay emphasis on the provisions of Justice, Liberty and Equality to all the citizens of India.
Justice promises to give people what they are entitled to in terms of basic rights to food, clothing, housing, participation in the decision-making and living with dignity as human beings.
Besides, the granting of political justice in the form of universal adult franchise or the representative form of democracy; the Preamble covers all these dimensions of justice – social, economic and political.
The Preamble also mentions about liberty of thought and expression. These freedoms have been guaranteed in the Constitution through the Fundamental Rights. Though freedom from want has not been guaranteed in the Fundamental Rights, certain directives to the State have been mentioned in the Directive Principles.
Equality is considered to be the essence of modern democratic ideology. The Constitution makers placed the ideals of equality in a place of pride in the Preamble.
All kinds of inequality based on the concept of rulers and the ruled or on the basis of caste and gender, were to be eliminated.
All citizens of India should be treated equally and extended equal protection of law without any discrimination based on caste, creed, birth, religion, sex etc.
Similarly equality of opportunities implies that regardless of the socio-economic situations into which one is born, he/she will have the same chance as everybody else to develop his/her talents and choose means of livelihood.
Fraternity, Dignity, Unity and Integrity
In the background of India’s multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and keeping in view the partition of the country, the framers of the Constitution were very much concerned about the unity and integrity of our newly independent country.
There was a need for harmonious co-existence among various religions, linguistic, cultural and economic groups.
Inclusion of phrases like ‘dignity of individuals’, ‘fraternity among people’ and ‘unity and integrity of the nation’ in the Preamble highlight such a need.
Egalitarian: A society, which feels concerned for meeting the needs of all its members, is known as egalitarian society. An egalitarian state is expected to reduce inequalities among citizens and fulfil minimum requirements of all.
The Preamble has provided for a vision humane which is, democratic, secular and, therefore, egalitarian. Therefore, inspite of not being a part of the Constitution, the Preamble has always been given due respect and regard by the courts while interpreting the Constitution.
References : http://lawmin.nic.in
Bibliography : NIOS – Political Science