Republic Day is celebrated as the day the Indian Constitution came into effect as the governing document of India. On this day of pride and celebration, let’s ask ourselves: Are we able to uphold the values of the Constitution we are celebrating? Let’s take a look at the (non-exhaustive) list below.
Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression
Article 19 in the Constitution of India promises citizens the freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peacefully, to practice any profession and to move freely throughout the territory of India. However, the arbitrary arrests of journalists, activists, and others voicing dissent against the State prove that India is failing to uphold this value.
Right to Protest Freely
Within the ambit of freedom of speech and expression, the Indian Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble peacefully without arms. However, seeing the State’s response to peaceful protests against the CAA and NRC, against police violence, and against the new agriculture laws, shows that the spirit of protest is strongly discouraged.
Right to Life and Personal Liberty
The Constitution of India has enshrined within it the right to life and personal liberty for Indian citizens. This includes the right to live with human dignity, which entails that citizens are entitled to safety and a life free from threat. However the recent claim of the Bombay High Court about groping without “skin to skin contact” not being counted as sexual assault under the POCSO Act goes against this value.
Right to Freedom of Religion
As per the Indian Constitution, India is supposed to be a secular state – one which respects diversity and neutral and impartial toward all religions. However, with the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, the citizenship of Muslims in India comes under threat. Moreover, the new Love Jihaad ordinance also propagates an Islamophobic narrative in the country.
Also read: The problem with India’s ‘love jihad’ laws
Right to Privacy
Recent comments and actions taken by State machinery and politicians show that India is failing to grant privacy to its citizens. Increased camera surveillance in peaceful protests, the Madhya Pradesh CM’s suggestion to track working women for their “safety”, and the Lucknow Police’s plan to use artificial intelligence to detect women’s distress indicate a decreasing regard for people’s privacy in India.
Abolition of Untouchability
Although Article 17 of the Indian Constitution mandates the abolition of untouchability, caste-based discrimination and segregation is still a reality. It manifests in the form of atrocities and violence, separation of use of wells and community facilities by dominant castes, forced evictions, prevalence of caste-based work, etc. Systemic discrimination and inequality in opportunity also thrives in Indian society.
Also read: 5 Casteist Myths That We Need To Put To Rest
Right to Free and Compulsory Education
Article 21A of the Indian Constitution promises free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, many students from marginalised communities and economically weaker sections of society were unable to receive adequate education as classes became virtual.