The Indian Constitution: A Guiding Light of Unity and Duty

History and significance of the Indian Constitution
Image courtesy: Ensure IAS

In seventy-three years ago, on November 26th, a momentous event took place in the history of India—the adoption of the Indian Constitution. It marked not only the birth of a new nation but also the inception of a remarkable document that would serve as a beacon of unity and a reminder of civic duty for generations to come.

The Indian Constitution is not just a legal framework; it is the very foundation upon which the diverse tapestry of India is woven together. It does more than enshrine the rights of its citizens; it underscores their duties, setting it apart as a unique and visionary document in the world of governance. This distinctive feature is what makes it a guiding light for the people of India.

Reflecting on the events of November 26th, it is essential to remember that this day is not without its share of painful memories. It is a day that carries the weight of history, as terrorists attempted to disrupt India’s rich traditions and cultural heritage, particularly in Mumbai. However, it is also a day that symbolizes the resilience and determination of a nation that chose unity over division and democracy over chaos.

The creation of the Indian Constitution was a monumental effort, with numerous stalwart individuals playing central roles. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and many others dedicated themselves to transforming the dreams and aspirations of every corner of India into the written word. Their commitment to inclusivity and justice laid the groundwork for a constitution that transcends the boundaries of time.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s last speech on November 25, 1949, stands as a testament to his foresight. He expressed concern about whether India could sustain its newfound freedom and republican status. Today, we proudly declare that India not only answered Ambedkar’s questions but also evolved and enriched its democracy over the years.

Over the past seven decades, the spirit of the Indian Constitution has endured, remaining steadfast and unshakable despite various challenges and attempts to undermine it. India has made significant progress within the framework of the Constitution, ushering in numerous reforms that have propelled the nation forward.

At the heart of this enduring spirit lies a simple yet profound message: “Dignity for Indians and Unity for India.” The Indian Constitution upholds the dignity of its citizens while preserving the unity and integrity of the entire nation. It stands as a model of global democracy, emphasizing not only rights but also the importance of duties and responsibilities.

The Indian Constitution
Image courtesy: Amar Chitra Katha

Let’s have to holistic view regarding this “Empowering Women in India: A Path Forward”

In India, the Constitution upholds the principle of gender equality and ensures women’s rights. It prohibits discrimination based on sex (Article 15) and guarantees equal protection under the law (Article 14). Moreover, it places a fundamental duty on every citizen to reject practices derogatory to women’s dignity.

The way forward involves providing better education opportunities, as education empowers women and changes societal attitudes. Skilling and micro-financing can enhance financial independence, while a multi-sectorial strategy should ensure women’s safety. Specific initiatives at the grassroots level, such as Swagatam Nandini and Nanhe Chinh, can promote gender inclusivity. Incentives for higher education and improvements in rural infrastructure are essential. Ultimately, a shift from women development to women-led development is crucial, recognizing that empowered women drive progress and secure a better future for all.

In India, women’s empowerment is not just a constitutional promise but a dynamic reality, with women breaking stereotypes and contributing significantly to diverse sectors, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

As responsible citizens, we should reflect on these duties in our daily lives. From preserving our mother tongue to conserving resources and fulfilling our civic responsibilities, we must actively contribute to the strength and progress of the nation. The law is not merely a set of rules to follow; it is a framework within which we shape our collective destiny. The preamble of the Indian Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people of India.” This powerful statement underscores the collective strength, inspiration, and purpose of every Indian citizen. It reminds us of our role in shaping the destiny of the nation and our responsibility to work together to fulfill our duties as responsible citizens.

The Indian Constitution
Image courtesy: Slideshare

What Does the Constitution Say About Women Empowerment?

  • The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
    • The Constitution not only guarantees equality to women, but also provides the State with the power to take measures of positive discrimination in favor of women in order to mitigate their cumulative socio-economic and political disadvantages.
  • Women have fundamental rights to not be discriminated on the grounds of sex (Article 15) and get equal protection under the law. (Article 14)
  • It also imposes a fundamental duties on every citizen to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

What should be the Way Forward?

  • Better Education Opportunities:Giving education to women means giving education to the whole family. Education plays an important role in building self-confidence among women.
    • It also enables people to change she/her status in society. Education enables and builds confidence to make decisions in a better way.
    • The Education policyneeds to be more inclusive to ensure girls right to education and their right to be free from discrimination within educational institutions.
      • Also, education policy should target young men and boys to positively change their attitudes towards girls and women.
  • Skilling and Micro Financing: Skilling and micro financing can get women financially stable and therefore she is no longer dependent upon others in the society.
    • Training women in non-traditional skills with market demand, creating more public and private sector jobs for women is important for financial empowerment.
  • Women’s Safety: A multi-sectorial strategy to raise awareness among women about the current government initiatives and mechanisms should be devised to ensure the safety of women throughout the country.
    • Panic Button, Nirbhaya Police Squad are some good steps in the direction of women’s safety.
    • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted to ensure safe working spaces for women and to build an enabling environment that respects women’s right of equality of status and opportunity.
  • Specified Actions at the Lowest Level of Governance: There is a need to devise, support and promote projects at the lowest level of governance, to bring more inclusivity in governance and improve the status of women in India. For instance:
    • Swagatam Nandini (Katni, Madhya Pradesh): This initiative was launched with an objective of celebrating the birth of girls.
      • With a small procession to celebrate the arrival of the daughter, parents of new-born baby girls are felicitated with baby kits under the Ladli Lakshmi Scheme.
    • Nanhe Chinh (Panchkula, Haryana): Encouraged by Anganwadi Workers (AWWs), baby girls are brought to local AWCs by their families.
      • Their footprints are outlined on chart paper and put up on the wall of the AWC with the mother’s and baby girls’ names.
  • Incentives in Education: In order to curb the higher dropout rate among girls, there is a need to provide relatively higher financial incentives for higher education.
    • Rewards should be given to villages/districts that are able to attain an equal child sex ratio through education, information, and communication campaigns.
    • Additional emphasis should be laid on e-governance so that there is a timely check on the expenditure released by the centre and various state governments for scholarships for girl students.
  • Improvement in Basic Amenities at Rural Level: Improvement in basic infrastructure can reduce domestic work burdens.
    • For instance, domestic work for rural women often includes arduous tasks such as fetching water and fuelwood. Piped drinking water and clean natural gas (already improving) will reduce this load.
  • From Women Development to Women Led Development: Women should be reimagined as architects of India’s progress and development, rather than being passive recipients of the fruits of development.
    • The ripple effects of Women Led Development are undeniable as an educated and empowered woman will ensure education and empowerment for future generations.

In the words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “The Constitution is not only the mere lawyers’ document. It is the vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age.” Seventy- Three years since its adoption, the Indian Constitution continues to guide us towards a brighter future, reminding us that unity and duty are the cornerstones of a prosperous and harmonious nation.

-Tishya Sharma, Lawyer and content writer with She Sight magazine.

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