As today India marks its 69th Republic day, how many among us know how long it took for our constitution to get implemented. On this day let us recollect the great efforts made by our maestros to build up a strong foundation for our nation.
Most of you know that India became independent on August 15, 1947. But do you know why we celebrate Republic Day?
January 26, 1950, is the day the Constitution of India came into effect. What was until then known as Union of India officially became the Republic of India. For 66 years now, the Indian Constitution has been the permanent instrument that ensures the working of the government system.
Let’s take a look at how the Constitution was created. Though it came into force only in 1950, the demand for a Constituent Assembly was made back in 1934. M N Roy, a Communist party leader, was the first to moot the idea. This was then taken up by the Congress party and the British government accepted the demand in 1940. The August offer, as it was known, allowed Indians to draft their Constitution.
A Drafting Committee was constituted on August 29, 1947, with Dr. B R Ambedkar as Chairman to prepare a Draft Constitution. This committee finally finished their work on November 26, 1949. The date is therefore known as Constitution or National Law Day. The process was complete when the members signed the document — two copies in English and Hindi — on January 24, 1950.
Now let’s go through a few facts about our constitution about which little did we know.
1. The original Constitution of India was handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in a flowing italic style with beautiful calligraphy. Each page was beautified and decorated by artists from Shantiniketan.
2. The original copies of the Indian Constitution, written in Hindi and English, are kept in special helium-filled cases in the Library of the Parliament of India.
3. With 25 parts containing 448 articles and 12 schedules, the Indian Constitution is the longest written Constitution of any sovereign country in the world.
4. The Constituent Assembly, which first met on December 9, 1946, took precisely 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to come up with the final draft.
5. When the draft was prepared and put for debate and discussion, over 2000 amendments were made, before it was finalised.
6. The drafting of the Constitution was finally complete on 26th November, 1949. But, it was legally enforced only after two months on 26th January, 1950. Which came to be known as the Republic Day.
7. The handwritten Constitution was signed on 24th January, 1950, by 284 members of the Constituent Assembly, which included 15 women. It came into force two days later on 26th January.
8. Our Constitution makers took inspiration from various other Constitutions while drafting the one for our country, which is why the Indian Constitution is often called a bag of borrowings.
9. The concept of Five Year Plans (FYP) was taken from the USSR, and the Directive Principles (socio-economic rights) were taken from Ireland.
10. The ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in our Preamble have been taken from the French Revolution, which is also the French motto.
11. The Preamble to our Constitution was inspired by the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America, which also starts with “We the people”.
12. The fundamental rights recognized by our Constitution have also been adopted from the American Constitution. The Indian Constitution recognizes nine fundamental rights as the basic human rights of all its citizens.
13. Interestingly, in the beginning, the Right to Property was also one of the fundamental rights. The Article 31 of our constitution said that, “No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.” However, the 44th Amendment, in 1978, deleted it.
14. The Indian Constitution has also been hailed as one of the world’s best Constitution because in 62 years of its adoption, it had been amended only 94 times.