Defend The Indian Constitution! Defend Diversity, Dialogue, Democracy!
By Forum for the Defence of the Indian Constitution
23 January, 2015
On 26 January 2015 as we mark the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Indian Constitution and the declaration of the country as a Republic the time has come to ask, ‘How much longer will this entity called modern India last?’
There are many genuine reasons for such alarm. Both the Indian Constitution, drafted under the chairmanship of Dr B.R.Ambedkar and the idea of India as that the leaders of the Freedom Movement fought for are under threat from big corporations in alliance with feudal elites operating under the banner of ‘Hindutva’.
For the last two decades or more now the country has been subjected to the most brutal neo-liberal economic policies that have created a tiny minority of very wealthy people and pauperised the bulk of the Indian population. Farmers, Adivasis, Dalits, women and the urban poor in particular are the worst hit with many of them resorting to suicide unable to cope with rising debt and costs of living.
This is a country where there is no ‘public’ anymore in the ‘Republic’ and the term ‘socialist’ enshrined in the Constitution has become a mockery of the Indian people and their aspirations. The Indian state, its politicians, bureacurats, army and police function solely on behalf of what can only be called a homegrown ‘Feast India Company’ that thrives on the graveyards of ordinary citizens.
Since the coming of the BJP to power in 2014 the pretence of being ‘secular’ has also been thrown overboard completely. Those running the country have openly declared their intention to convert this country into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, where Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists indeed every religious minority will either have to ‘reconvert’ or live as second-class citizens forever. On a daily basis we are witness today to the subversion of the Indian Constitution and its promises of fundamental rights, democracy, equality and fraternity to every citizen.
The Indian parliament for a long time has been the rubber stamp of the rich and powerful but under the BJP/NDA regime even the farce of parliamentary approval has been dropped. New laws, with long-term implications for the people of this country- are being made through diktat from above and with zero participation of elected representatives.
The federal nature of India, one of the key principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution, is under attack as the forces of big capital push for a ‘homogenisation’ of everything from tax collection to laws that were once decided by the state governments. This is being compounded by ‘Aryanisation’ of the culturally diverse Indian nation, made up of thousands of ethnic, linguistic, regional and religious identities, through measures such as declaring the Gita as the ‘national scripture’ and the imposition of Hindi.
This has never been a country where the Constitutional guarantees of the right to life and liberty were ever taken seriously by those in power even in the past, but now the blatant assault on democratic norms, institutions and values is done openly. Indian prisons overflow with Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims as they bear the brunt of this complete disregard for due process of law or individual rights combined with the racist, discriminatory mindsets of the Indian justice and security system.
Let us make no mistake about it. The Constitution of India is what helps India constitute its diverse components into one functional reality with its principles of human rights, federalism and separation of powers. Take away the Constitution and its values and this prison-house of castes, nationalities, linguistic and class groups called India would fall like a pack of cards.
Yet, the enemies of the Constitution are many and its defenders few...so few that perhaps there are only a handful who will really come out to protect it with both their minds and bodies. And yet this is the most important legacy emerging from the Indian national movement against British colonialism, without which it is matter of time before Western imperialism will swallow the subcontinent once again through various intrigues.
On 26 January this year, we call upon all Indian citizens to pledge to defend the Indian Constitution and ensure the future of India as a genuinely modern, democratic, federal and secular Republic. Read and understand the Constitution, translate and popularise its contents, mobilise to protect it from the relentless assault by those who want to convert us all into a nation of slaves serving domestic and foreign masters.
The time has come to launch a second struggle for national independence against the forces of both communalism and imperialism. The first battle will be over the sanctity of the Indian Constitution, its objectives and the values it represents!
Issued by: Forum for the Defence of the Indian Constitution
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