History & Culture

Republic Day walk explores people and places associated with the Indian Constitution

A man in a mask cycles past the blue wall of a house where once lived a lawyer who was the Advocate-General of Madras Presidency from 1929 to 1944. Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar was also a member of the Drafting Committee that framed the Constitution of India. The country’s fundamental governing document, it came into effect on January 26, 1950.

 

On Republic Day, a walk by The Equals Project will remember people like Ayyar and others from the city who contributed to the creation of the Indian Union.

“On the walk, we discuss the process by which the Constitution of India was drafted, and the many competing visions for India. The issues that dominated India in 1949 are not too different from the issues that occupy our public discourse now,” says Shruti Viswanathan, 34, a lawyer with a public policy firm and founder of The Equals Project.

She adds, “The walk begins with the founding of the Indian National Congress and goes all the way to the first amendment of the Indian Constitution. Along the way, we discuss the men and women involved in creating it, the riots, assassination attempts and even a love story.”

 

Established in 2019, The Equals Project hosted its first workshop in 2020 at the Bangalore International Centre and is peopled by a history student and three lawyers including Shruti, a graduate of National Law School of India University.

“Our aim is to make Constitutional history accessible to the common man. We want to focus on the principles and concepts that bind us as a nation, explore the history of its writing, the debates and divides on caste and region that existed then and continue to stay relevant now, and how we can negotiate the idea of India through a better understanding of this living, breathing document and build empathetic citizenship,” says Shruti.

Physical workshops were the medium for this discourse until the pandemic forced the project to reach out through Instagram. They have designed online courses centred around the Constitution for public policy departments. A podcast is also on the cards.

 

The walk will have about six stops and look at the contributions of Ayyar and Durgabai Deshmukh, Srinivasa Gandhi Nilayam, a living monument in the constitutional journey, and the Madras Presidency’s legacy to the idea of caste reservation.

To keep the Constitution in public consciousness, The Equals Project through simulations and games, is tailored for young adults, the youth and older people.

“On Republic Day we also launch Tracing Lines, a reading circle, that will every quarter explore books on the Constitution, and the values that underpin it. We begin with The People’s Constitution by Rohit De who will also be part of the discussion. We discuss books through a non-legal lens with the focus that this is our history.”

The 75-minute walk, in and around Mylapore, begins at 7am on January 26, and will cover a distance of 2.3 kilometres. There is a fee of 500 for the walk (free for students of Government schools), while the reading circle at 12pm is free. To register for the walk, click on https://bit.ly/3FHzPWC, for the reading circle,https://bit.ly/3tAYNEN . For details, write to contact.theequalsproject@gmail.com


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Printable version | May 7, 2022 10:27:56 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/republic-day-walk-places-people-indian-constitution-equals-project/article38291713.ece