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PSIR 1B-2 Making of the Indian Constitution – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Imprint of the British Constitution on the Indian Constitution. [2023/10m/150w/5a]

The Indian Constitution, adopted in 1950, reflects the influence of the British Constitution in several ways due to India’s colonial history under British rule. While the Indian Constitution is a unique and distinct document, it bears certain imprints of the British Constitution.

India’s system of government closely resembles the British model, with a President as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. The parliamentary system includes a bicameral legislature, just like the British Parliament, consisting of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).

The concept of the rule of law, which is central to the British legal system, is evident in the Indian Constitution. It upholds the supremacy of the Constitution and the equal protection of the law for all citizens, similar to the British legal tradition.

The Indian Cabinet system, with the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, mirrors the British Cabinet system. The executive authority is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers responsible to the lower house of the Parliament, similar to the British Cabinet’s relationship with the House of Commons.

India’s adoption of a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Lok Sabha (elected directly by the people) and the Rajya Sabha (representing the states), is influenced by the British Parliament’s structure, which includes the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The Indian President performs ceremonial duties, akin to those of the British monarch, and has no real political power.

The Indian Constitution, like the British Constitution, enshrines fundamental rights and freedoms. Concepts such as the right to equality before the law and the protection of individual liberties are shared principles.

It’s important to note that while the Indian Constitution bears these imprints of the British Constitution, it also incorporates a wide range of unique provisions that reflect India’s diverse culture, historical context, and specific needs. The Indian Constitution, therefore, is a distinct and comprehensive document that has evolved to serve the world’s largest democracy, encompassing the values of justice, equality, and individual freedoms. [342 words]

2] The making of the Indian Constitution is described as an attempt towards ‘social revolution’. Comment. [2022/15m/200w/8b]

Dr. Ambedkar held that political democracy cannot sustain unless social and economic democracy usher in the country. The Indian Constitution reflects that spirit.

At the time of independence, Indian society was marred by several evil practices, such as untouchability. The framers of the Constitution were well aware of the ground realities. Thus, the Indian Constitution contains provisions that aim to strengthen the goals of social revolution.

Parts III and IV of the Constitution highlight its core commitment to social revolution. Fundamental rights ensure equality, declare untouchability illegal, prohibit human trafficking, etc. The Directive Principles of State Policy aim to make people free in a positive sense by ensuring social and economic equity.

The Constitution is a been a living document. Several amendments have added to the social revolutionary fervour. For instance, the Right to Education Act, Maternity Benefits, etc.

On the flip side, it has a condescending effect in contemporary times. Several constitutional provisions emerge as bones of contention. Reservations, for example, are being questioned in several circles. Also, at present, the judiciary has emerged as an active player in bringing social change. [199 words]

Indian Constitution is unique in the sense it attempts to bring social revolution through democratic means.

3] The Constitution of India is a product of a historical process, rich with constitutional antecedents.” Comment. [2021/10m/150w/5a]

The Indian Constitution has been shaped by several historical processes that took place in India and the world at large. The most significant of these events that shaped the constitution, was India’s struggle for freedom.

The Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of people against the state in the form of fundamental rights. Besides, a strong centre envisaged by the Constitution is the outcome of separatist tendencies during the national movement. Socialist triumphs in the Soviet Union have had a huge impact on Indian Constitution.

The Indian Constitution is also rich in constitutional antecedents. It draws inspiration from several documents, either passed as legislation in British India or framed by Indian leaders as aspirational documents. Thus, a major portion has been derived from the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935.

India has continued with the parliamentary form of government. Besides, other documents such as the Nehru Report, 1928, and the Swaraj Bill, 1895, also shape several portions of the Indian Constitution.

Thus, the Indian constitution is rightly a product of historical processes. [173 words]

4] “The Constitution makers faced the great task of forging a common national identity in the face of unparalleled social and cultural diversity in India.” Comment. [2021/10m/150w/5b]

The Indian Constitution-making moment was preceded by centuries of imperial control, in one form or another. The government was top-down and exploitative, and religious and caste identities were consolidated and entrenched. Indians had no experience with effective democratic institutions and no understanding of choosing representatives and holding them to account.

This history distinguishes the Indian case from other constitution-making ventures in Europe, North America, and Australia, where there was some familiarity with at least proto-democratic forms, and the primary challenge was to reach sufficient consensus on the design of institutions and levels of government and on the distribution of authority between them.

Like in many post-colonial states, India has a huge state mechanism that preceded the nation formation, hence it was the constitution that had to fulfil that purpose. So, the challenge was to constitute the people, not only in the sense of the formal constitution but, through the design of democratic arrangements that would develop the people as citizens.

Codification would provide a common conceptual framework of a democratic constitutional kind; centralization would facilitate political, social and economic change in ways that the entrenched practices at more local levels would resist; and representation would develop a new individual identity, of an Indian citizen, breaking down the social barriers that divided Indians from each other as the foundation for a new relationship between them.

It can be easily said that the Indian constitution-making experience is more relevant to most post-colonial states than the North American or European cases that so often are taken as prototypes. [255 words]

5] Discuss Indian constitution makers’ concerns on social inequality. [2020/10m/150w/5b]

Unfortunately, social inequality has been a prominent feature of Indian history. And therefore, constitution makers tried their best to address the issue for posterity.

Through Planning Commission, the state had the right and power to redistribute resources across the nation. The right to property was not allowed right to due process, and many other legal steps were also taken to ensure land redistribution.

Fundamental rights including the right to religion, were not absolute. Right to equality was made a fundamental right, untouchability was explicitly abolished and the Hindu temples were ‘thrown open’ to all the sections of society in the constitution.

We also see the concern for social inequality from the directive principles of state policy. These directives include most of the socio-economic rights of the people. Although non-enforceable, they were made ‘fundamental in the governance of the country’. 

Indian constitution also makes the provision of reservations in assembly and government jobs to explicitly address the concerns of Dalits and tribals.

We can see that the concern of Constitution makers has not been in vain and the nation has come a long way on the parameter of social justice, since independence. [191 words]

6] Unity and integrity of India was perhaps the single uppermost factor in the minds of the Constitution makers. Comment. [2019/10m/150w/5a]

For better control, the British created a governance system that was tilted towards the centre. When they left India, Indians had to go through the painful tragedy of partition. The violence of the times, coupled with separatist tendencies created a strong sentiment for a unitary constitution.

In the words of Ambedkar, we want ‘a strong united centre – much stronger than the centre we had created under the Government of India Act of 1935’.

The list system created under the constitution had more subjects under the central list than the state list. The concurrent list further gave an advantage to the centre. The office of governor, a colonial tool of the centre to control the states was retained with no major changes. And article 356 allowed the centre to take over state administration on the recommendation of governor.

The revenue system also favoured the centre. The single judicial system, all India services, destructible nature of states, single citizenship, integrated election machinery, emergency provisions etc. all indicate the bias of the constitution towards centre.

As witnessed afterwards, the concern of the constitution makers was not in vain. The provisions made in the constitution allowed India to survive its ‘dangerous decades’. And although articles like 352 and 356 were misused at times, in the long term it has only strengthened the democracy in India. [222 words]

7] Indian constitution is a Lawyers Paradise. (Ivor Jennings). Discuss. [2018/10m/150w/5b]

Ivor Jennings calls the Indian constitution – a ‘lawyer’s paradise’. He argues that the constitution is too complex to grasp by common people and is too legalistic. The language of the constitution is such that various interpretations are possible and it opens up un-necessary complications.

The criticism certainly has its merits. The prominent members of the constituent assembly i.e., Pt. Nehru, Sardar Patel, B.R. Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad etc. were all lawyers. The constitution, including the preamble, has been interpreted by the judiciary in various ways, taking even opposite views at times. And there are unwritten provisions like parliamentary privileges (Art 105) which still remain vague.

However, the remarks appear less relevant at present times. Some provisions of the constitution were left unclear to be determined by future generations. Various higher court judgements have also helped to clarify many of its ambiguities – like Art 356 is made more difficult to be misused. There have been over 100 amendments to the constitution and it has proved to be a perfect blend of rigidity and flexibility. There have been a lot of changes in Indian society since independence. But the fact is that the same constitution continues to guide its socio-politico-economic life. [199 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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