Time for relook at Constitution?
Our Constitution has been in force for about 65 years now and has stood us in good stead. Or has it not? That is a question worth pondering? To my mind, much more urgently than the question whether Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi, or Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi should be next Prime Minister of India? More urgently than whether BJP or Congress, or Congress or the Third Front should come to power?
We have been having such great reverence for the Constitution in ink (abusing it in spirit all the time through our actions) that the thought of critically examining it in totality hardly ever crosses our mind. But in the present scenario, when a sense of helplessness and being a citizen of a failed nation is all pervasive, we must collectively introspect whether the Constitution has failed us or we have failed the Constitution. Or has it been a combination of both?
The common feeling is that our leaders have failed the Constitution. While feeling so, we don’t realize that it means we have failed it since we are the ones responsible for choosing our leaders. But is it that the only reason for the pathetic state a right thinking Indian today finds him or her in? The recent scams during last couple of years, unfolding at the heels of the previous one, exponentially increasing in size every time, from worth a few hundred crores to a few thousand crores and then to lakhs of crores of rupees; and the perpetrators and those responsible for misuse or wastage or loot of such large amounts of public money still continuing to control and govern us without any accountability, will suggest that our Constitution also has failed us.
There could be nothing more farcical than the implicated Railway Minister in the recent infamous Railgate scandal becoming a prosecution witness rather than being the main accused. The culprits of the Bofors deal could never be brought to book. Neither could the revered Constitution save us from the dark era of Emergency in 1975. Nor could it save us from the clutches of dynastic rule.
That is not all. Today one will think hundred times before seeking a judicial redress of one’s genuine grievances. One will not be sure of getting justice but one will be sure that even if one gets it, it will be too late, and the implementation of it may further take years. For this we can’t blame the leaders. Then there is bureaucracy, not only in the public sector but also in the private sector, to contend with. And the majority of the media, especially the most visible one, working on hidden agenda, bringing out half truths and very careful in hiding the complete truth, is too evident now-a-days.
All this boils down to the harsh reality that it is nothing but our collective character as a people that is responsible for our present state, and those responsible for drafting the Constitution didn’t take that sufficiently into account. Today those in power and responsible not only for cornering huge amounts of public money for personal gains, but also for rank bad governance, can look forward to coming to power again by doling out goodies and promises to the starving and the deprived masses just before the next elections. The five year tenure allows the people’s representatives to exploit the fact that public memory is short. They can and do loot for the major part of their tenure, and announce doles towards its end.
On the positive side, we have been enjoying peace and freedom. Overall there has been peace except for sporadic riots here and there, and now and then. Credit for that goes more to our tolerant nature, than the Constitution. Except for those two dark years of Emergency, we have been enjoying freedom of the highest order, a gift by our Constitution.
Still, the ever increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, and ever increasing civil unrest in the shape of Maoists and other public outcries, tells us that all is not well. We are far from a country the founding fathers of the Constitution had in mind. Our children die of hunger and our large work force of youths remains unemployed and without work. Injustice and inequality rule. In the name of growth, we are allowing inroads to the foreign powers.
It is true that we can’t change our character. But being living beings, we also can’t resign ourselves to the present state. That will mean death to us and our descendants. So we have to do something. The meaningless and motivated late evening TV debates anchored by Arnab Goswamis and Rajdeep Sardesais resulting in and ending up in the dignitaries and the anchors calling each other names, can’t be that something. These debates, though on air for years now, haven’t been able to bring about any accountability or improvement in governance. More often than not, the media ends up being the mouth piece of the rogues and the rascals controlling institutions and running the country.
What we can meaningfully do and must do is to have a relook at the Constitution. I am not suggesting that Constitution must be changed nor I am suggesting any particular changes. What I am suggesting is that there is an urgent need to review the Constitution in its totality, utilizing the rich experience of 65 plus years of independent India. Our intellectual energies as a nation need to be channelized in this direction. Media needs to come out of its infatuation with Shahrukhs, Priyankas, Dhonis, and Modis, and needs to rise above selfish agenda to devote itself to the act of nation rebuilding.
A team consisting of sagacious Indians from all walks of life can be formed for the purpose of reviewing the Constitution. The members of this team should be from as divergent fields as can be, but they all must be well read, possessing good intentions, necessary vision and wisdom. They must not be egoists. They will have a job at hand as important and as historical as the Constituent Assembly of India had. They should be up to it. Our present day leaders will do well to lend them and the whole exercise their support. They and we all live and prosper only as long as the nation survives.