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A festival to salute India’s vibrant democracy

LUCKNOW 25/01/2022: A young boy waiting for customer to sell Tricolor on the eve of Republic Day Celebration, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday . JANUARY 25, 2022. PHOTO SANDEEP SAXENA

LUCKNOW 25/01/2022: A young boy waiting for customer to sell Tricolor on the eve of Republic Day Celebration, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday . JANUARY 25, 2022. PHOTO SANDEEP SAXENA

Republic Day is not only an occasion to take pride in our identity as Indians but also an occasion for the citizens of our country to reiterate our resolve to promote equality and brotherhood in the country.

This year we are celebrating our 73rd Republic Day. This journey of our Republic had started on January 26, 1950 when we had resolved to abide by and remain faithful to the principles enshrined in our Constitution. On the day our Constitution came into force, India became a fully sovereign democratic republic. The Constitution has been our guiding force in the journey of the nation as a mature democracy among comity of nations.

 

Much thought and work

The task of drafting the Constitution of India was assigned to a seven-member committee under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The Constituent Assembly undertook intensive deliberations over a period of two years, 11 months and 18 days spread over 11 sessions, during which the Constitution of India took shape which was then adopted on November 26, 1949. January 26, 1950 was the momentous day when, at last, decades of struggle for true Swaraj finally bore fruit and the supremacy of the sovereign will of the people was truly established.

Our Constituent Assembly played a dual role after Independence, given the insurmountable task of nation-building. On the one hand, there was the task of framing an enlightened Constitution for an independent India and on the other, to play the role of a legislature for the nascent nation. The Constituent Assembly of India acted as the first Parliament of independent India. It is an interesting historical fact that Dr. Rajendra Prasad chaired the sittings of the House when it met as the Constituent Assembly while Ganesh Mavalankar presided over as Speaker when the House met as the legislature.

Our Constituent Assembly had performed the functions of the provisional Parliament of India in the interval between the time our Constitution was enforced and the day when the new Parliament was formed following the first General Elections (October 25, 1951-February 21, 1952).

 

May 13, 1952 was the historic date when the first sitting of the newly elected First Lok Sabha, representing the hopes and aspirations of the 36 crore citizens of India, was held.

A beacon

Since then, in the seven and a half decades of this glorious journey, our Constitution has not only upheld the hopes and aspirations of the 135 crore population but has also acted as an unwavering beacon of light, guiding us on the path of building a great and resilient country.

Representative institutions and democratic traditions have always been an integral part of our rich heritage. This is why when India adopted the modern form of a democratic structure of governance after Independence, it was a seamless transition which was much lauded the world over. Today, when we celebrate ‘ Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav ’ to mark the 75th anniversary of our independence, it is high time for us to evaluate the gains made so far and strive for a futuristic action plan of building a new India. We have to ensure that our institutions and governance ensure inclusivity and the participation of our population in our developmental journey, particularly our women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and all other marginalised sections become equal partners in our growth story.

Our Parliament has been playing a pivotal role in the all-round development of the nation by adopting many parliamentary devices for ensuring free and fair discussions and dialogue. These devices have enabled the Members to raise the concerns of the people in the House and to draw the attention of the Government towards their satisfactory resolution, and also ensure transparency and accountability of the executive.

Help for legislators, MPs

To ensure that best legislative practices are shared, a national portal is being planned to serve as a repository of the proceedings of Parliament and all State/Union Territory legislatures in the country. At the same time, measures are being taken to provide support for capacity building of the Members of Parliament. Research support is being provided to Members to help them participate better and meaningfully in matters brought before Parliament. A dedicated parliamentary research team is being set up for the purpose. Efforts are on to reform and strengthen the parliamentary committee system to make it more effective.

Our goal is to make our legislatures a forum where meaningful, positive and result-oriented discussions are held; a legislature where all sides are able to put forth their opinions; a legislature where we are able to arrive at a resolution through constructive dialogue while respecting divergent views. It is also time in the journey of our nation to take stock and review laws that were enacted during the pre-Independence era so as to make them more relevant to our current requirements and future challenges. For this, all political parties will have to enter into a constructive and healthy understanding through mutual dialogue.

Republic Day is an occasion for people’s representatives and all citizens of this proud nation to reaffirm faith in the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, in his speech before the Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1948, had underlined that the basis of constitutional morality is to hold the values enshrined in the Constitution as paramount.

Republic Day is also an occasion to contemplate as citizens our responsibility in the diligent discharge of our duties just as we continue to cherish our fundamental rights.

A vision for the future

Let us celebrate this Republic Day as a festival and firmly rededicate ourselves to the fulfilment of our duties to bring happiness, prosperity and a better quality of life for all our citizens in keeping with the vision of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi — of creating an ideal democracy with morality at its core, discipline in the hearts of its citizen, and where everybody fulfilled their duties and the rights of all were protected. It is that vision which guides our Constitution, and it is the same vision that should be our guide for the future.

With this belief, I wish all my fellow countrymen a very happy Republic Day.

Om Birla is Speaker, Lok Sabha


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