Chap. 2 ‘Constitutional Design’ Notes Political Science Class 9

CBSE Class 9 Pol. Sc. Chapter 2 “Constitutional Design” Notes: The chapter notes are one of the best ways to study and revise for exams and gain hold on the subject matter. Click here for more study materials and other chapters of class 9 Political science.

The chapter deals with basic questions- Why do we need a constitution? How are the constitutions drawn up? Who designs them and in what way? What are the values that shape the constitutions in democratic states? Once a constitution is accepted, can we make changes later as required by the changing conditions? One recent instance of designing constitution for a democratic state is that of South Africa.

We begin this chapter by looking at what happened there and how the South Africans went about this task of designing their constitution. Then we turn to how the Indian Constitution was made, what its foundational values are, and how it provides a good framework for the conduct of citizens’ life and that of the government.

1 Democratic Constitution in South Africa

Nelson Mandela’s Ideals, Struggles and Commitment

  • Mandela fought against both white and black domination.
  • He envisioned a democratic and harmonious society with equal opportunities.
  • Expressed willingness to die for the ideal of a democratic and free society.
  • Mandela and leaders tried for opposing apartheid regime in 1964.
  • Sentenced to life imprisonment by white South African government.
  • Spent 28 years incarcerated in Robben Island, the most feared prison.

Struggle against Apartheid

  • Apartheid: Unique racial discrimination system in South Africa.
  • Imposed by white Europeans during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • White settlers became local rulers, contrasting India’s colonization.
  • People categorized by skin colour: ‘whites,’ ‘blacks,’ ‘coloured,’ Indian migrants.
  • Non-whites treated as inferiors; lacked voting rights.

Oppression and Segregation

  • Apartheid oppressive for blacks; prohibited from white areas.
  • Needed permits to work in white areas.
  • Segregation extended to transportation, facilities, institutions, and even churches.
  • Whites and blacks had separate trains, buses, hospitals, schools, etc.
  • Segregation enforced strictly; blacks had limited rights and opportunities.

Resistance and Protests

  • Since 1950, non-whites (blacks, coloured, Indians) resisted apartheid.
  • Launched protest marches, strikes, and demonstrations.
  • African National Congress (ANC) led struggle against segregation.
  • ANC included workers’ unions, Communist Party, and supportive whites.
  • Some whites joined ANC to oppose apartheid and played leading roles.
  • International condemnation of apartheid’s unjust, racist nature.

Violent Suppression

  • White government responded with brutality: detentions, torture, killings.
  • Thousands of black and coloured people detained, tortured, or killed.
  • Despite global outcry, white racist government persisted in ruling with force.

Towards a New Constitution of S. Africa

Shift in Government Approach

  • Increased protests against apartheid led to realization that repression wasn’t sustainable.
  • White regime altered policies, repealed discriminatory laws.
  • Bans on political parties and media restrictions were lifted.
  • Nelson Mandela released after 28 years of imprisonment.
  • On April 26, 1994, new national flag marked birth of South African democracy.
  • Apartheid government ended, paving way for multi-racial government formation.

Peaceful Transition and Mandela’s Perspective

  • Peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy was achieved due to recognizing inherent goodness in others.
  • Nelson Mandela emphasized belief in goodness as cornerstone of democracy.

Building a New South Africa

  • Black leaders called for forgiveness and unity among races.
  • Emphasis on equality, democratic values, social justice, and human rights.
  • Former oppressors and freedom struggle leaders collaborated to create a common constitution.
  • Two years of discussion yielded a comprehensive constitution with extensive citizen rights.

Inclusive Solution and Transformation

  • Focus on including everyone in problem-solving, regardless of past actions or affiliations.
  • South African Constitution’s preamble encapsulated this spirit.
  • Transformation of the state denounced as undemocratic into a democratic model was possible due to determination of the people.

Mandela’s Perspective on the Constitution

  • South African Constitution reflects commitment to prevent recurrence of racist and repressive past.
  • Charter for transforming the country into one shared by all its people, irrespective of race or gender.

2. Why Do We Need a Constitution?

The South African Example

  • South Africa’s transition to democracy exemplifies the importance of constitutions.
  • Oppressor and oppressed aimed to live as equals but faced trust issues and safeguarding concerns.
  • Black majority sought to protect majority rule, social, and economic rights.
  • White minority aimed to secure privileges and property.
  • A compromise was reached through negotiations.

Need for Rules in Trust-Building

  • Trust maintained by establishing rules of the game.
  • Rules determine how rulers are chosen, government powers, and citizen rights.
  • These rules need to be difficult to change.
  • South Africans agreed on basic, supreme rules known as the constitution.

Universality of Constitution Making

  • Diverse societies worldwide require basic rules.
  • Countries, associations, clubs, and parties all need constitutions.
  • A country’s constitution defines relationships among citizens and between people and government.

Functions of a Constitution

  1. Trust and Coordination: It generates a degree of trust and coordination that is necessary for different kind of people to live together.
  2. Government Structure: Specifies government composition and decision-making authority. – It specifies how the government will be constituted, who will have power to take which decisions;
  3. Limits on Government: Restricts government powers, outlines citizen rights. – It lays down limits on the powers of the government and tells us what the rights of the citizens are;
  4. Expresses Aspirations: It expresses the aspirations of the people about creating a good society.

Constitution and Democracy

  • Not all countries with constitutions are democratic, but all democracies have constitutions.
  • American and French post-independence instances established the practice of having written constitutions in democracies.

3. Making of the Indian Constitution

Challenging Circumstances

  • Indian Constitution, like South Africa’s, was crafted under challenging conditions.
  • Task of creating a constitution for a vast and diverse nation like India was complex.
  • India’s transition from subjects to citizens was a significant shift.
  • Partition based on religious differences led to a traumatic experience for India and Pakistan.
  • Partition-related violence caused significant loss of life on both sides of the border.

Princely States and Uncertainty

  • British left princely states to decide whether to join India, Pakistan, or remain independent.
  • Merger of princely states posed challenges due to varied interests and allegiances.
  • Constitution drafting occurred amid uncertainty about the country’s future.

Anxieties and Concerns

  • Constitution makers faced apprehensions about the country’s present and future.
  • Concerns about security and stability of India loomed during constitution drafting.
  • Anxieties stemmed from the traumatic experience of partition and the uncertain state of the nation.

The process of creating the Indian Constitution was a complex endeavour that took place against a backdrop of partition-related turmoil, uncertain political landscapes, and the transition from colonial subjects to citizens.

The Path to Constitution

Advantage of Consensus

  • Unlike South Africa, Indian Constitution makers didn’t need to create consensus about democratic India’s nature.
  • Much of the consensus had developed during the freedom struggle.
  • National movement aimed at rejuvenating and transforming society and politics alongside ending foreign rule.

Early Agreement on Basic Values

  • Motilal Nehru and other Congress leaders drafted India’s constitution in 1928.
  • 1931 Karachi session of Indian National Congress discussed principles of independent India’s constitution.
  • Inclusion of universal adult franchise, freedom, equality, and minority rights was agreed upon.

Familiarity with Colonial Institutions

  • Understanding colonial institutions aided agreement on institutional design.
  • British rule provided limited voting rights, resulting in weak legislatures.
  • 1937 elections to Provincial Legislatures and Ministries offered valuable experience.
  • Insights gained were helpful in setting up India’s own institutions.

Learning from Other Countries

  • Indian leaders drew inspiration from French Revolution, British parliamentary democracy, US Bill of Rights, and Russian socialist revolution.
  • Adaptation, not imitation, was the approach. Suitability for India was always considered.

Years of Deliberation

  • Extensive thinking and deliberation on constitutional framework had positive impact.
  • Confidence was built to learn from other countries, but with Indian context in mind.
  • Each step involved questioning and adapting concepts to suit India’s needs.

The Indian Constitution’s development was shaped by the country’s history, leaders’ ideals, and the necessity to tailor global concepts to the unique Indian context.

The Constituent Assembly

Makers of the Constitution

  • The Indian Constitution was crafted by a group of leaders in the Constituent Assembly.
  • The Constituent Assembly was a body of elected representatives.
  • Elections were held in July 1946, and the Assembly’s first meeting took place in December 1946.
  • After the division of India and Pakistan, separate Constituent Assemblies were formed for each country.

Constitution Adoption and Effect

  • The Constituent Assembly of India, comprising 299 members, adopted the Constitution on November 26, 1949.
  • The Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, celebrated as Republic Day.

Reasons for Accepting the Constitution

  1. Broad Consensus: The Constitution doesn’t just reflect individual views; it embodies a wide consensus of its time.
  2. Legitimacy: Unlike some countries, no significant social group or political party has challenged the Constitution’s legitimacy.
  3. Representation: The Constituent Assembly represented the people of India, including various political and social groups.
  4. Fair Geographical Share: Members were elected from all regions of the country, ensuring representation.
  5. Systematic Work: The Assembly worked systematically, openly, and through consensus.
  6. Drafting Process: Basic principles were agreed upon, followed by drafting by a committee led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
  7. Thorough Discussion: Draft Constitution was discussed thoroughly, clause by clause, with over 2,000 amendments considered.
  8. Deliberation Duration: Members debated for 114 days over three years.
  9. Recorded Debates: Every discussion and document in the Assembly were recorded and preserved as “Constituent Assembly Debates.”
  10. Interpretation Basis: These debates provide the rationale behind each constitutional provision and are used to interpret its meaning.

The Indian Constitution was meticulously crafted by a diverse group of leaders through a comprehensive, open, and systematic process, ensuring its legitimacy and representing the nation’s varied interests.

4. Guiding Values of the Indian Constitution

Overall Philosophy of the Constitution

To understand the Constitution’s philosophy: Explore major leaders’ views on the Constitution. Analyse what the Constitution itself expresses about its philosophy.

The Preamble: A Glimpse of Philosophy

  • The preamble to the Constitution encapsulates its philosophy.
  • It outlines the dream and vision of a just and equitable India.
  • Reflects aspirations for equality, justice, liberty, and fraternity among citizens.

The Shared Dream and Promise – Gandhiji & Ambedkar’s Speech

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s dream was an India free from inequality, with effective participation of the poorest.
  • A nation where social hierarchies don’t exist, all communities coexist harmoniously, untouchability and substance abuse are eradicated, and women have equal rights.
  • Dr. Ambedkar shared the dream of equality but had a different approach to achieving it.
  • He warned of contradictions between political equality and social-economic inequality and the risk it posed to democracy.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s Vision

  • Nehru spoke at midnight on August 15, 1947, marking India’s independence.
  • Referred to the tryst with destiny and the responsibility that freedom brought.
  • Emphasized continuous striving to fulfil pledges made to India and humanity.
  • Pledged to serve the suffering millions, eradicate poverty, ignorance, disease, and inequality.
  • Aspired to alleviate suffering and wipe every tear from every eye.

The Indian Constitution’s philosophy is rooted in the dreams and aspirations of its leaders. It envisions a just, equal, and progressive India where every citizen’s rights are protected, and the nation’s well-being is paramount.

Philosophy of the Constitution

Foundation of Indian Democracy

  • Values nurtured by the freedom struggle formed the bedrock of India’s democracy.
  • These values are enshrined in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Preamble serves as a guiding light for all the articles in the Constitution.

Significance of the Preamble

  • The Constitution starts with the Preamble, a concise declaration of its core values.
  • Inspired by the American model, many countries use a preamble to outline their fundamental principles.
  • The Preamble encapsulates the entire Constitution’s philosophy.

Preamble’s Democratic Poem

  • The Preamble is like a poetic ode to democracy.
  • It serves as the foundation on which the Constitution stands.
  • It provides a yardstick to assess the merit of laws and government actions.
  • Each word in the Preamble carries profound significance and meaning.

Preamble’s Role (Soul of The Constitution)

  • The Preamble embodies the essence of the Constitution.
  • It serves as the key to understanding the ideals and objectives of the nation.
  • It shapes the interpretation and evaluation of laws and government actions.
  • The Preamble is considered the soul of the Indian Constitution.

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution encapsulates the principles that guide the entire document, serving as a touchstone for evaluating the legitimacy and quality of laws and government actions.

Institutional Design

Constitution: Values and Arrangements

  • A constitution doesn’t just express values; it embodies them in institutional structures.
  • The Constitution of India extensively covers these arrangements.

Dynamic Nature of the Constitution

  • The Indian Constitution isn’t considered sacred, static, or unalterable.
  • Crafters envisioned it as adaptable to people’s aspirations and societal changes.
  • Provisions for incorporating changes through constitutional amendments were included.

Understanding Institutional Design

  • The Constitution employs legal language, which might be initially challenging to comprehend.
  • However, the fundamental institutional design is relatively easy to grasp.

Core Elements of Institutional Design

  1. Choosing Leaders: The Constitution outlines the process for selecting leaders to govern the nation.
  2. Power Distribution: It defines the distribution of powers and decision-making authority.
  3. Rights Protection: It establishes limits on government actions by granting certain rights to citizens that must be upheld.

The Indian Constitution is more than a set of values; it’s a complex framework detailing how the nation is governed, powers are distributed, and citizens’ rights are safeguarded.

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