“Why India Needs a New Constitution.” is the title of the chapter I contributed to a Festschrift published in November 2016 by the Center for Civil Society in Delhi.
That idea rubs Indians the wrong way because Indians generally believe that the constitution is a fine work. Not that they have examined it for themselves. They think that it must be so because politicians praise the constitution and uncritically accept their verdict.
It is like the fable of the emperors new clothes, except in this case the people have not themselves seen the emperor in his new clothes. They have only heard of reports that the emperor has a new set of clothes, and experts who have seen the new clothes have declared them to be wonderful. The belief has been implanted in the people, and they will vehemently oppose any suggestions to the contrary.
I argue that the emperor’s new clothes are in fact his old clothes, and therefore the “new” clothes do an equally bad job of hiding his unsightly nakedness as his old clothes did.
To persuade you to read the chapter in the book Liberalism in India (link at the end), here are a few excerpts below. Continue reading →
The Center for Civil Society convened a day-long conference on Nov 20th at The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi, to honor the memory of S V Raju. I attended and had the opportunity to meet with many friends and also some people I had heard about but never met before.
The most important thing for the constitution of any civilized society is the guarantee that it provides that all people are treated equally and without discrimination by the government. The other bits follow logically from that principle.
And the back story to that is here. (I don’t like the video style of getting multiple people to say bits of a sentence — it’s tiresome and distracting.)
The First Amendment to the US Constitution is 45 words long. The full text reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Just by the way, the first 10 amendments to the US constitution is collectively known as the “Bill of Rights.” They were all ratified on Dec 15, 1791.
The First Amendment to the Indian constitution was introduced by Jawaharlal “Cha-cha” Nehru and was enacted in June 1951. The full text of the amendment is below.
It is not for the fainthearted. You ask why? Because here’s a very brief extract from the more than 1700 words.
No law in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution which is consistent with the provisions of article 19 of the Constitution as amended by sub-section (1) of this section shall be deemed to be void, or over to have become void, on the ground only that, being a law which takes away or abridges the right conferred by sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of the said article, its operation was not saved by clause (2) of that article as originally enacted.
In the previous parts (first and second) of this essay, I discussed some aspects of constitutions and governments. The discussion was general and was principles based. In this part, I examine the particular case of the Indian constitution and the governments that it gives rise to. And I conclude that the constitution needs to be replaced. Continue reading →
In part 1 of “Constitution, Government, Economy”, I had explored what a state is, what an economy is, the need for a constitution, the restrictions that must be imposed on a government, etc. This is a continuation of the same. In this, I go into some details on redistribution and why it must no be done by government. Continue reading →