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India: Rise – In Defence of the Idea of India Enshrined in the Constitution

Monday 2 November 2020, by siawi3


Rise – In Defence of the Idea of India Enshrined in the Constitution

G.G. Parikh and Neeraj Jain

November 1, 2020

On 26 November, 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Consitution of India, crafted by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. All the values that Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of the freedom struggle like Nehru and Maulana Azad stood for constitute the foundations of India’s Constitution.

Now, seven decades later, the BJP – a party whose idealogues had no role to play in the freedom struggle, rather they opposed it – is in power at the Centre. It is seeking to build an India that is totally different from the dreams of our founding fathers as enshrined in the Constitution; all the fundamental Constitutional values of democracy, liberty, fraternity and secularism are under attack.

- It has mounted a fierce assault on the people’s right to voice their dissent. The latest such attack is the attempt by the Delhi Police to falsely implicate the activists of the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movement as masterminds of the brutal communal violence in parts of North-East Delhi. Supporters and participants of these protests are being harrassed and jailed under the draconian anti-terror UAPA. At the same time, persons associated with the BJP against whom there is much video evidence that they openly indulged in inciting and participating in the violence are roaming scot-free, they have not even been chargesheeted by the police; there is even massive evidence of the complicit partisan role of the police in the Delhi violence.
- It is seeking to deepen caste and gender discrimination in the country; even the policy of reservation for the historically marginalised sections – the SCs-STs – is being weakened.
- It has mounted a fierce attack on secularism: it is spreading false propaganda about Minorities, demonising them through various hate campaigns – resulting in attacks, riots, lynchings and even killings of Muslims and Christians.
- It has brutally violated our Constitutional commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, further alienating them from the Indian government.

Unfortunately, even the judiciary today is reluctant to play its constitutionally mandated role of checking violations of fundamental rights by the state.

At the same time, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government is pursuing economic policies that are complete violation of the vision embodied in the Consitution that directs the State to build an egalitarian society and ensure for all citizens the availability of adequate healthcare, equitable and good quality education, nutrition, and decent livelihoods. Its anti-people character is best revealed in its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. It has displayed such ineptitude and apathy for the people, that:

- Corona cases in the country are rising at the rate of nearly 1 lakh a day – the fastest daily increase in the world; nearly 2,000 people are dying every day, more than 75,000 people have died so far.
- The economy has crashed by a massive 24% during April–June 2020; the actual collapse may be a mindboggling 40–50%; crores of people have been rendered unemployed.

Instead of taking steps to tackle this unprecedented crisis, the Modi government is continuing to implement its pro-corporate pro-rich policies at an acceleraed pace:

- It has announced large scale privatisation of public sector corporations, including the railways, oil and gas corporations, and even defence equipment and space sectors!
- It is privatising public sector banks and insurance companies – endangering the safety of life time savings of crores of working people.
- It is allowing private sector profiteerers to usurp the country’s mineral wealth, including even the coal sector.
- It has passed three ordinances that will allow agribusiness corporations to gradually acquire control over Indian agriculture.
- Trampling upon the Forest Rights Act, it has cleared several environmentally destructive projects which will result in massive displacement of tribal communities.
- It is seeking to change environmental laws – that put short-term profits of big business over the interests of future generations.
- BJP ruled state governments are dismantling labour laws, so that corporations can further squeeze workers, make them work long hours at rock bottom wages.
- It has unveiled a New Education Policy that will further accelerate the ongoing privatisation of education – putting education beyond the reach of the poor.
- It is refusing to recognise government ‘scheme’ workers (such as the ASHA workers, the NHM workers and Anganwadi workers) – who are in the forefront of fighting the pandemic at great risk to their lives – as ‘workers’ and continues to deny them even minimum wages.

The Modi government is the most anti-people government to have come to power at the Centre since independence. While pushing ahead its agenda of subverting the Indian Constitution and transforming the country into a Hindu Rashtra, it is brutally repressing all those opposing its nefarious agenda, imprisoning them in false cases under draconian laws, trashing the fundamental rights of criticism and dissent guaranteed under the Consitution – reminiscent of the days of the British empire.

We need to make efforts to make the Indian citizens aware that the dreams of a Hindu Rashtra being sold by the BJP are not going to benefit the common people – it is only going to benefit the corporate houses, which is why they stand fully behind the Modi government and the media houses under their control continue to dish out propaganda in its support. Our founding fathers had understood this very well. That is why they resolutely defended the Idea of building a secular and democratic country, even as our neighbouring country was being built on the foundations of fundamentalism.

On 25 November 1949, the eve of the adoption of the Constitution of India, its chief architect Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had warned that unless we removed the inequality pervading our social and economic structure, unless we established full social and economic democracy, the existence of our democratic constitution would always be in peril. Today we see that inequality is has gone to extreme levels, and the Constitution is under threat. ‘We, the People of India’ need to unite and fight this assault on our Constitutional rights and values, as well as on the neoliberal development being implemented in the country that has led to obscene inequality.

We call upon people’s organisations all across the country to come together and launch a concerted campaign to create awareness among the people regarding all these issues. In the face of the massive repression unleashed by the Modi-led government at the Centre on all progressive voices seeking to challenge its fascist rule, we need to unitedly and boldly declare that the government will never succeed in silencing us. We need to reach out to the people and make them aware of the anti-people anti-Constitution agenda being pursued by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. We need to proclaim, loud and clear, our allegiance to the Idea of an inclusive, humane and egalitarian country of equal citizenship, which is the proudest legacy of our freedom struggle.