Re-discover the Preamble, and know that toilets stand for ‘fraternity’
The ‘original’ preamble to the Constitution, which first surfaced in an I&B ad on Republic Day 2015, have reappeared in a series of X posts without the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’
In 2015, when an I&B (information and broadcasting) ministry advertisement carried the Preamble originally signed by members of the Constituent Assembly, with calligraphy by renowned painter Nandalal Bose and his students, it omitted two words — secular and socialist — incorporated in 1976.
The reaction was sharp and immediate. The BJP government, wryly commented a former UPA minister at the time, wanted to replace ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ with ‘communal’ and ‘corporate’. The RSS kept quiet, and Union ministers were divided in their response, with Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking a public debate and Venkaiah Naidu, a Union minister then, asserting that there were no plans to remove the two words from the Preamble.
Transcripts of debates from the Constituent Assembly indicate that there was indeed a move to include both ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Preamble. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, however, had reasoned that there was no need to include the term ‘secular’ as the entire Constitution embodied the concept of a secular state and non-discrimination on grounds of religion and equal rights and status to all citizens.
On the word ‘socialist’, Dr Ambedkar was of the view that a majority of the people at some point in the future may devise a better social organisation and it should be left to them.
The old debate was revived today, on the eve of Republic Day 2024, when the citizen interactive handle of the Union government @MyGovIndia posted a series of graphics with the following introduction, “As we celebrate 75 years of the Republic of India, let's revisit the original Preamble of our Constitution. How well does New India resonate with these foundational principles? Take a look to embark on a journey through time, exploring how India has evolved while staying true to its roots.”
The posts, of course, excluded the two words inserted in 1976, confirming the allegations of the government’s critics that the Union government is against minorities and panders to crony capitalists.
The laboured text with the graphics that followed actually provides an entirely new meaning of ‘Equality, Liberty, Justice and Fraternity’, besides explaining ‘Sovereignty, Democracy and Republic’ in a new light.
The government appears to believe, for example, that India is a ‘REPUBLIC’ because it has a new Parliament building, ‘peace’ in the NE (?), and because of digital empowerment and financial inclusion. Political Science textbooks will have to change the definition of a republic substantially to accommodate this view.
Similarly, LIBERTY to this government appears to mean opening up the private sector to critical sectors, ease of doing business, and abrogation of Article 370, having allegedly assured equality of women, SC, ST and safai karmacharis (cleaning staff).
If that is not hilarious enough, the handle explains FRATERNITY in terms of 11 crore toilets (for fraternising?), loans to street vendors, and equipment to safai karmacharis.
That is not all. Hold your breath. EQUALITY has apparently been ensured by this government because 48 per cent of the startups have women as directors, 70 per cent of Mudra loans have ostensibly gone to women, and 75 per cent of the houses under the PM Awas Yojana have women as joint owners. Women’s Reservation, Direct Benefit Transfer, and Digitisation have been cited as examples of a robust DEMOCRACY.
Rather than be a spoilsport, we leave it to readers to discover the new essence of the Preamble to the Constitution. Follow the graphics.