Did You Agree to be Bound by the Constitution?

Some time ago I published the draft of a “Constitution for a Free India(click to read, right-click to download pdf) which I propose should replace the current Indian constitution. In the preamble of the draft, it says —

“… The people of India as the principals agree unanimously through this constitution to empower as their agents governments at the national and state levels which shall carry out the legitimate wishes of the people as expressed by their political choices in elections. … “

What does “agree unanimously” mean and imply? When you agree to something, you give your consent, assent. Agreeing implies coming to a common understanding or arrangement.

Any constitution (that of a nation state, or of a social club) is in its essence a contract between the people and the organization, and among the people of that organization. No contract can reasonably be said to be binding on someone who has not agreed to be bound by it through some action that explicitly indicates his assent (such as putting his signature on the contract document.)

What if someone has not even read the constitution? The question of his assenting to the contract implied by the constitution does not arise. What if the constitution is unreadable? It would be pointless for a person to assent to something that is incomprehensible or that which is not known to him.

These are important questions that almost never gets asked. People are too trusting of authority. The attitude is, “Hey, everyone seems to be OK with it. So I guess it is OK.”

When confronted with the inevitable user level agreement of a piece of software, one mindlessly clicks the box “I agree” and gets on with life. That attitude is perhaps not a matter of life and death. But trusting authority when it comes to matters of governance is foolish at best and actually fatal in most cases. Governments kill people by the truckloads nearly everywhere around the world.

These are matters worth pondering. But people rarely do. Politics, Bollywood and cricket appear to be the only things that matter to most Indians. The important bits get lost in the shuffle. Which partly explains the trash — both figurative and literal — that India so abundantly produces.

Author: Atanu Dey


3 thoughts on “Did You Agree to be Bound by the Constitution?”

  1. Why should citizenship be revocable? Why do naturalized citizens not enjoy the same set of privileges (like the ability to vote or run for elected office)?


    1. India has very porous borders. Politicians have an incentive to allow unconstrained illegal immigration from Bangladesh, for example, and use them as a vote bank to win elections. It changes the demographics of the neighboring states such as Assam and Bengal. By disallowing naturalized citizens the vote, it reduces the incentives for politicians to do harm to India.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: