On November 26, 1949, the masterminds of the constituent assembly who envisaged Indian future in a certain way adopted the most extended handwritten document what we call the "Constitution of India"- which is unique both in terms of content and spirit.
From then on, every year on November 26, Constitution Day (National Law Day), also known as Samvidhan Divas, is observed to commemorate the Constitution of India.
Our Constitution is a bag of borrowings as the makers drew ideas from constitutions of various nations like USA, France, Australia and others. The Constitution was drafted between December 1946 and December 1949-the most challenging period as it was the time when religious riots, caste wars, and entrenched gender inequality were threatening the social fabric of the country.
The demand for a Constituent Assembly was first made by MN Roy, a communist party leader and later pursued by the Congress party. In 1940, the British government accepted the demand and allowed Indians to draft the Indian Constitution.
On August 29, 1947, a drafting committee under the chairmanship of Dr BR Ambedkar was constituted to prepare a draft constitution. There were a total of 11 sessions between December 9, 1946, and January 24, 1950. During this period between the adoption and enforcement, there were over 2000 amendments made to the draft after much debate and discussion.
Indian Constitution is the longest written constitution in the world which originally had 395 articles, divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules. At present, our Constitution contains 448 articles, with 12 schedules.
The original Constitution was not printed or typed but handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in an italic style with beautiful calligraphy in both Hindi and English. Each page was beautified and decorated by artists from Shantiniketan.
Our Constitution strikes a balance between rigidity and flexibility. The Parliament can make amendments to the Constitution as per the needs, according to Article 368. However, the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be changed or modified. Any violation of the basic structure of the Constitution is unconstitutional and is invalidated by courts.
The Constitution of India identifies only single citizenship. In countries like the USA, there is a provision of dual citizenship. The people of India are citizens of the country as a whole and not of the respective states like in the USA.
Universal Adult Franchise promotes the policy of 'one person one vote'. Every individual of 18 years and above has the right to vote irrespective of their age, gender, race, colour, religion etc.
The Constitution includes all the federal characteristics of governance such as dual government system, constitutional supremacy, an independent judiciary, bicameralism and division of powers between the three state organs of the executive, judiciary, and legislature.
Nevertheless, it is unique in that it includes many unitary features as well. They include string centre, all India services common to the centre and the states, emergency provisions that can transform the Constitution into a unitary one if necessary, the appointment of governors by the president on the advice of the centre, etc.
Unlike the United States where there is a two-tiered judiciary, a single judicial system prevails with the Supreme Court at the top in India, with the State and District High Courts and other subordinate courts below and subject to the supervision of the High Courts.
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