A Comparative Analysis Of The Sources Of Inspiration For The Indian Constitution
In the grand narrative of India's constitutional journey, the Constitution
stands tall as the guardian of democracy, ensuring citizens' rights in a society
aspiring to be free and just. Adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November
26, 1949, and brought into effect on January 26, 1950, it is a living document
shaped by an array of global influences.
Government of India Act 1935: A Crucible of Constitutional Ideas
The roots of India's constitutional evolution delve into the Government of India
Act 1935. A magnum opus of British legislation, it spanned 321 sections and 10
schedules, drawing inspiration from diverse sources. From the Simon Commission's
report to deliberations at the Third Round Table Conference, it synthesized
ideas from the White Paper of 1933 and Joint select committees. The Act ushered
in provincial autonomy, delineating powers through federal, provincial, and
United Kingdom: Infusing Parliamentary Essence
The British constitutional legacy imprints upon India's governance structure.
The parliamentary form of government, with a cabinet led by the Prime Minister,
and the concept of the rule of law found resonance. Article 14's assurance of
equality before the law mirrors this foundational principle.
United States: Fundamental Rights and Judicial Review
From the United States, India borrowed the canvas of fundamental rights
(Articles 12-32). Ensuring citizens' basic human rights, it echoes the
principles enshrined in the American Bill of Rights. The power of judicial
review, allowing courts to nullify conflicting legislative or executive orders,
is a crucial feature adopted from the U.S. constitutional framework.
Ireland: Directive Principles and Procedural Norms
The Irish influence emerges through the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
and procedural norms. DPSP, nestled in Part IV, reflects ideals of socialism,
Gandhian principles, and liberal intellectual directives. Additionally, Ireland
contributed to the procedure for the nomination of members to the Rajya Sabha.
Canada: A Federal Blueprint and Residual Powers
Canada's constitutional architecture left a profound impact. India's
quasi-federal structure, the distribution of powers between the central and
state governments, and the retention of residual powers by the central
government mirror the Canadian model.
France: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in the Preamble
The French Constitution infused India's Preamble with the ideals of Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity. This profound influence shaped the identity of the
Indian state as the 'Republic of India.'
Australia: Trade and Commerce Freedoms and Concurrent List
Australia contributed to India's economic framework. The provisions ensuring
freedom of trade and commerce within the country and between states, as well as
the concept of the Concurrent List, were borrowed.
South Africa and Germany: Constitutional Procedures and Emergency Powers
South Africa's impact is evident in India's procedures for constitutional
amendments and the election of Rajya Sabha members. Germany's influence surfaces
in the provisions allowing the suspension of fundamental rights during
Soviet Union (USSR), Japan, and Russia: Duties, Planning, and Justice
Ideas from the Soviet Union and Japan manifested in India's Fundamental Duties
(Article 51-A) and a Constitutionally mandated Planning Commission. Russia's
influence echoes in the Preamble's emphasis on social, economic, and political
India's Constitution is a harmonious symphony of global influences, carefully
woven to create a unique tapestry of governance. As Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stated,
"There is nothing to be ashamed of in borrowing. It involves no plagiarism."
Indeed, India's Constitution stands as a testament to the universality of
constitutional ideas, adapting them to the rich cultural fabric of the nation.
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