India’s 70th Republic Day: Salient features of our Constitution

January 26, 2019

India celebrates its 70th Republic Day today amidst much grandeur and pomp with a splendid show including parades at the Rajpath in Delhi. Republic Day actually marks the day on which the Constitution of India came into effect as the governing document of democratic India. Today is also a day to remember and pay special tribute to our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to bring us freedom from the clutches of the British. On this occasion, we bring to you some salient features of the Indian Constitution.

Chief architect of the Constitution

Dr. B R Ambedkar, was the chairman of the drafting committee, and is considered to be the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Constitution of India became effective on January 26, 1950 and thereby replaced the Government of India Act, 1935 as the country’s fundamental governing document.

Lengthiest in the world

Indian Constitution is one of the lengthiest and bulkiest constitution in the world. It comprises 448 articles or provisions in 25 parts, 12 schedules and 103 amendments. In the latest amendment of the constitution in January 2019, the articles 15 and 16 were amended in order to provide 10 percent reservation to the poor belonging to general category in government jobs and education.

Derived from different sources

The key tenets of the Constitution of India has been derived from various sources including the Government of India Act of 1935, and the constitutions of other nations. Several provisions have also been adopted from the constitutions of Canada, Australia, Germany, USSR and France.

Rigid and flexible 

The Indian Constitution is rigid and flexible too. It means that certain parts of the constitution can be amended by the parliament by simple majority while some parts require two third majority as not less than one-half of the state legislatures.

Federal system

Our constitution contains all the federal features of governance like dual system of government — centre and states, division of powers between the three organs of the state — executive, judiciary and legislature; supremacy of the constitution, independent judiciary and bicameralism — lower house and upper house.

Parliamentary system of government

Our constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government, which means the real executive power rests with the council of ministers while the President is only a nominal ruler (Article 74).

Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties of citizens

Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are a reason for the citizens to celebrate in India. Our constitution provides a list of Fundamental Rights for its citizens, which cannot be taken away or abridged by any law made by the states (Article 12–35). While it is so, our constitution also provides a list of duties for the citizens, known as the Fundamental Duties (Article 51A).

Directive principles

Directive principles of state policy (Article 36–51) are mentioned in the Indian Constitution, which the government is obliged to observe while formulating new policies.

Secularism

The constitution makes India a secular state by detaching from religious beliefs. With the 42nd amendment of the Constitution of India that was enacted in 1976, the preamble to the constitution asserted that India is a secular nation.

Single citizenship

The Indian Constitution provides a single citizenship for all the people who are residing in different parts of the country and there is no separate citizenship for the states (Article 5–11).

Emergency powers

The extraordinary powers known as the emergency powers have been vested in the President by the constitution during emergencies born out of external aggression, armed rebellion or failure of constitutional machineries in the state (Article 352–360).

Independent judiciary

The constitution provides an independent judiciary (Article 76) that ensures that the government is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and acts as a guardian of the liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens.

Provisions for minorities

The constitution makes special provisions for minorities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, by granting them certain special rights and provisions.

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