‘People are quite ignorant about Constitution’- E. Z. Khobragade
Former IAS officer E Z Khobragade, while working as the chief executive officer, zilla parishad, Nagpur initiated the preamble reading programme in the year 2005 at the school level. He followed up on this issue with the state government, after which, in 2008, the Maharashtra government issued orders regarding celebrating Constitutional Day in all offices, schools and colleges on November 26. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently declared that Constitutional Day will be celebrated on November 26 across the country. Chitra Sawant spoke to Khobragade on the importance of celebrating Constitution Day.
Q: It has been decided to celebrate November 26 as Constitution Day in various institutions across the country…
A: The Constitution is framed for the people with an objective to build a developed, prosperous and strong nation. The Preamble is the soul of our Constitution, the opening page and an integral part of our Constitution which is our ‘Rashtra Granth’. The Preamble to the Constitution states the social philosophy, i.e. liberty, equality and fraternity, as principles of life. It embodies the sovereignty of the Constitution. But we people are quite ignorant about the constitutional principles, philosophy and morality. This ignorance of the common man as well the people in the government has created problems. Therefore, celebrating Constitution Day assumes great importance. We should with an open heart recognise the greatest contribution of Dr BR Ambedkar in the framing of the Constitution of India. It is because of his efforts that we have got this Constitution based on the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Celebrating Constitution Day is also an opportunity to honour and remember the father of the Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar.
Q: What is unique about our Constitution?
B: The aims and objectives are embodied in Preamble. The unique features are: a parliament system of executive, fundamental rights and its enforcement, directive principles of state policy, an independent judiciary, adult franchise, centre-state relationship, federal structure and a unique blend of rigidity and flexibility, and fundamental duties. The most important aspect of the features of the Indian Constitution is the tendency to eradicate inequality that traditional social relations have given birth to. The Preamble speaks about the aims and objectives. The Indian constitution provides not only basic laws, but also provides detailed and minute administrative provisions. This was to prevent subversion of the Constitution through legislative processes. Uniqueness lies in the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, justice and secularism. According to the Constitution, the people of the country are the supreme authority. The Indian Constitution, one of the longest documents in the world and the most important book in the country, was adopted on November 26, 1949, while it came into force on January 26, 1950. Hence, this is a historical day in the making of our constitution.
Q: Why it is pertinent and relevant for us to celebrate Constitution Day now more than ever before?
A: It lays down the basic structure of the government under which its people are to be governed. It establishes the main organs of the government — the executive, the legislature and the judiciary and media. This awareness of knowing the basic philosophy and constitutional morality would help us to establish good governance. It regulates the relationship between the different organs and between the government and the people. Therefore, the governing class as well as citizens must know their Constitution and its principles and values. We are governed by constitutional laws and procedures. It is a fundamental duty of every citizen to respect our Constitution and abide by it. We are benefitted by various schemes and programmes as told by the Constitution to the government. Hence, knowing, imbibing and practising the Constitution by all is a must for the betterment of the nation and individuals. Schools are the places where the constitutional culture can be easily imbibed in the minds of the children and teachers.
Q: In what way should the Constitution be introduced at the school level?
A: Knowing our Constitution from one’s school days is an important step towards developing our children into better citizens. Essay competitions, drawing competitions, ‘Samvidhan Sabhas’, ‘Parishad’ and cultural programmes on various aspects of Constitution need to be organised in schools, villages, colleges and offices, so that its philosophy and morality is imbibed amongst them. This is a slow but necessary process to fulfill the objectives given in the Preamble of our Constitution.