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'India has to rise and rise fast'

By A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.cnm
Last updated on: January 27, 2015 11:52 IST
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'The government has to take effective steps to strengthen democracy, rule of law, maintain communal harmony and safeguard the security of the country and its people.'

'The government has to carry all sections of the people with it, irrespective of their race, caste, community, region or language, and try to unite them by promoting fraternity among them," says the legendary Constitutional expert P P Rao.

The national flag being made in a workshop in Ahmedabad

On the 65th anniversary of the Constitution, India's supreme book on governance, democracy and citizenship, speaks to Constitutional experts on whether the Constitution has lived up to the expectations of citizens and the Republic's founding fathers.

Has the time come for the Constitution to be reviewed? A Republic Day Special:

P P Rao, the legendary expert on the Constitution, speaks to A Ganesh Nadar/

On the 65th anniversary of the Republic, what are your thoughts on the Constitution and what can we do to make the Constitution stronger?

The objectives of the Constitution have not been achieved so far, as they were meant to be. We have not provided justice -- social, economic and political.

We have not promoted fraternity among the people assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.

We have not provided good governance to the people.

We have not been imparting value based education in all the institutions from the primary schools to the universities. Even degree-holders are committing crime and violence.

Terrorist outfits are able to attract the educated youth of the country. The government's writ does not run in most of the tribal areas of the country which are under the influence of terrorists. There is widespread unrest in the North-East.

The quality of leadership at the national, the state level and in the local bodies is far from satisfactory. The quality will not improve unless electoral reforms are carried out. It needs to be done on a war footing.

Strict conditions of eligibility have to be laid down by law for candidates contesting at any election; or else, the quality of elected representatives will deteriorate further.

Money power, muscle power, paid news and factors like caste and community have been influencing elections as a result of which power grabbers with criminal antecedents are getting elected in the state legislatures and Parliament in increasingly large numbers.

Some of them are also appointed as ministers.

Too many political parties without any ideology except to capture power by hook or crook have been obstructing the evolution of a two-party system necessary for the stability of governments.

No party is genuinely interested in reforming the system. Honest, competent and patriotic citizens are being sidelined.

Corruption is widespread from the lowest level to the highest level. Civil servants by and large have ceased to be neutral. Filling up public offices with party members is a dangerous practice which will destroy institutions.

We need administrative reforms to cleanse the administration. There has to be a provision in the Constitution to terminate forthwith the services of any public servant found to be of doubtful integrity.

Such public servants should be relieved of their offices immediately without prejudice to their claims for compensation. Black sheep among 'public servants,' a term which includes civil servants, ministers, members of Parliament and of state legislatures, judges and judicial officers have not only to be weeded out, but replaced by clean, honest and capable men and women.

Recruitment to public services and posts should be based on merit assessed objectively by competent, honest and fearless selection committees, free from political interference or compulsion.

Unfortunately corruption has entered even the judiciary. The independence of the judiciary is affected. The collegium system of selecting judges of the high court and the Supreme Court has encouraged sycophancy among aspiring judges.

The recent amendment of the Constitution and the Judicial Appointments Commission Act, far from strengthening independence of the judiciary, will make the position worse.

A weak judiciary constituted of pliable judges cannot stand up for the rights of the citizens. It will be subservient to the ruling party and the government of the day which is not good for the rule of law.

There is a crying need for electoral, political, administrative and judicial reforms, but no one is interested in undertaking them. Recommendations made by expert committees constituted by successive central governments are gathering dust.

The new government at the Centre has to take effective steps to strengthen democracy, rule of law, maintain communal harmony and safeguard the security of the country and its people.

To achieve this target, the government has to carry all sections of the people with it irrespective of their race, caste, community, region or language and try to unite them by promoting fraternity among them.

It is distressing to see that some supporters of the government are bent upon destroying communal harmony and peace and causing serious doubts and apprehensions in the minds of minorities.

This is being exploited by hostile neighbouring countries.

Both the government and the Opposition need to be strong. If the government destroys the Opposition, it will eventually destroy democracy which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Without a strong Opposition, governments tend to be dictatorial.

Is there a case to review some of its provisions and make it more relevant to today's India?

The loopholes in the Constitution have to be plugged. They are being exploited by vested interests who are making a mockery of our democracy.

The Constitution is fine, it needs to be reinforced by reforms and implemented honestly by dedicated and competent people with integrity.

India has to rise and rise fast realising her immense potential.

On this Republic Day, let the government and the Opposition solemnly resolve to work together for speedy realisation of the cherished goals of the Constitution.

Image: A worker makes national flags at a workshop ahead of Republic Day in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters.

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