Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, made a very interesting comment in a video which has gone viral. Speaking at a function, Prasad spoke about how he dawned upon the hidden beauty of the Indian Constitution, in the year 2000, when India was celebrating 50 years of its constitution. Incidentally, we at OpIndia.com had covered this aspect in 2016.
Besides having the founding principles of our country, the lawmakers at the time, thought it necessary that the Constitution should be illustrated with appropriate graphics. Thus, the original constitution was adorned with drawings by two artists: Nandalal Bose and Beohar Rammanohar Sinha. The most interesting aspect of this was, the choice of drawings:
1. The page on citizenship, exhibited India’s vedic civilization
2. The section on Fundamental rights, was adorned with an image of Ram, Sita and Laxman
3. The Directive Principles of State Policy portion, had Krishna
Other religious and historical characters in the Constitution included Buddha, Mahavira, Hanuman, Nataraja, Akbar, Shivaji, Guru Gobind Singh etc. This Constitution, with all the above images and more, was signed off by the founding fathers of the country, including Jawahar lal Nehru, the most revered leader for the Congress party. This was the Idea of India back then.
Today, the Idea of India has changed. Talking about Hindu Gods or leaders is blasphemous. Rajputs are called cowards. Shivaji is called an over-glorified local chieftain. Aurangzeb (who was not considered worthy of place in the constitution, unlike Akbar), is called a fair and just king. History as we know it, is being re-written. Indian cultural heritage, is being denied.
Minister Prasad spoke of the above motifs in the Constitution, and raised a very pertinent question: If, the above constitution was framed today: would it be accepted? Or would it be labelled communal?
It is a valid question. Would today’s left liberals masquerading as intellectuals, self proclaimed judges in the media, social commentators, approve of this sort of imagery? Would this be then called “rise of Hindu nationalism”? Would some “comedian” then link this to the rise of Modi and the rise of Fascism? Would some left liberal rag write a piece of how the Constitution itself is trampling all over minorities?
The answers to the above, are well known, and are unfortunate. We live in a time, where expressing ‘Indianness’ has become a crime. A newly wed actress wearing sindoor is mocked for being “patriarchal”. This is new the Idea of India. And sadly, this is the Idea of India, of those very people, who swear to live by the Constitution. The very constitution, which accepts Indian heritage, ethos, and philosophy, is used by our new heroes, to shout that India should be torn to pieces.
These self proclaimed ‘thekedaars of the constitution’ are unaware that perhaps our Constitution embraced the idea of pluralism far more than that of secularism. While many other nations start and end with their political boundaries, India is one where cultural heritage far predates political doctrines or boundaries. It was only by the 42nd amendment to the constitution in 1976, that the word ‘secular’ was inserted in the preamble of our constitution. It is hence safe to assume, that secularism as a concept is one that wasn’t envisaged by our political founding fathers, but an afterthought. A tool, to be exploited for decades to come. A weapon, in the face of vote bank politics.
Our constitution believed in pluralism, the very foundation of dharma. Not secularism, that alienates India’s cultural heritage from its political identity.
Minister Prasad attributed this “hijacking of Indian heritage” to “people who enjoyed state power, came with collusive research, designed to weaken the morale of India”. While the power of such people is slowing fading away, we still have a long way to go. And Mr Hegde, if you do wish to amend the Constitution today, forget about it. If what was written 67 years ago can run the risk of being called communal today, then what you may do today will surely be called communal.