The Constitution of India lays down a set of rules to which the ordinary laws of the country must conform. It provides a framework for a democratic and parliamentary form of government. The Constitution also includes a list of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles, the first, a guarantee against encroachments by the state and the second, a set of directives to the state to introduce reforms to make those rights effective.
Though the decision to give India a parliamentary system was not taken without serious debate, yet the alternative—of panchayat-based indirect elections and decentralized government—did not have widespread support. Espoused by some Gandhians, notably Shriman Narayan, this alternative was discarded decisively in favour of a centralized parliamentary constitution.
The Congress had demanded adult suffrage since the twenties. It was hardly likely to hesitate now that it had the opportunity to realize its dreams. A few voices advocated confining of adult suffrage to elections to the panchayats at the village level, and then indirect elections to higher-level bodies, but the overwhelming consensus was in favour of direct elections by adult suffrage—not a small achievement in a Brahmanical, upper-caste dominated, male-oriented, elitist, largely illiterate, society!
The basic philosophy of the Constitution, its moving spirit, is to be found in the Preamble. The Preamble itself was based on the Objectives Resolution drafted by Nehru and introduced in the Assembly in its first session on 13 December 1946 and adopted on 22 January 1947. The Preamble states that the people of India in the Constituent Assembly made a solemn resolve to secure to all citizens, ‘Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all, Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation.’
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