ALMOST seven decades ago the Indian Constitution came into force. Its Preamble had key words that were aimed to create an idea of a new nation, a country of the future. Since 1950, we have slipped further into the past, and each of the terms that were designed to give our society a new modern identity have been flouted and vandalised. Let us take each of them. The nation was to be sovereign. Ever since Independence, the ruling regimes became dependent on superpowers, be it Russia or the US. India was to emerge as a socialist country, where the means of production, distribution, and exchange were to be owned and regulated by the citizens. In effect, we are ruled by corrupt elected representatives, who use violence and money power to dole out favours to their loyalists and supporters through their discretionary powers. We were to be democratic. Our elections remain a farce— booth capturing has changed to EVM tampering.
Let us not forget that the Constitution-makers wanted us to be secular. Over the years, we have encouraged fights between religions; we have used falsehoods to denigrate members of other religious communities. Every government was responsible for this degeneration; no one can claim the moral high ground. We destroyed mosques to build temples, we desecrated temples in the name of religion, and we raped nuns and killed priests.
The Constitution-writers imagined a nation that provides social, economic, and political justice. What we got instead was justice that invariably bends in favour of the powerful. The poor never get it; they drown in their sorrows, or spend years in jail. Justice remains blind to this environment. The gap between the haves and have-notes is yawning, the rural-urban divide increasing, and politics is dictated by caste, creed, and community allegiances.
Well, there was a mention of liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship. All these are at risk now. One can be put behind bars, and punished for sedition and terror activities if one voices certain expressions and thoughts. Your faith and means of worship can be questioned incessantly, and you can be forced to leave this country, or face death threats. Some sections feel that people should either follow the beliefs of the majority or leave the country. Equality of status and opportunity, which was written in the Preamble, has degenerated into ever-expansive affirmative action that may end up with quotas for every caste and community. Equality in opportunity now implies an extension of quotas. Equality in status means the use of politics to become as rich as the other through dishonest means. Equality by fair and just means is passé; it is the use of violence to gain empowerment that prevails instead.
Given this environment of hate, and success at any cost, fraternity and dignity of individuals, and unity and integrity of the nation have fallen by the wayside. They are the ideals of a forgotten, unknown past. They are the ideas of a previous generation, which was delinked from ground realities. The practical Indian, and the argumentative Indian has junked the Preamble. Long live the Constitution! MG Devasahayam, Alam Srinivas and MK Shukla analyse the state of democracy.