Every year on January 26, Republic Day is celebrated to honour the day when the Constitution of India came into effect. When India got Independence on August 15, 1947, the country didn’t have its own Constitution.
It was still governed by the laws implemented by the British. After many deliberations and amendments, a committee was headed by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the committee submitted a draft of the Indian Constitution. The draft was adopted on 26th November 1949 and it was legally enforced on 26 January 1950- the day since we celebrate Republic Day.
As India is getting buckled up to celebrate its 73rd Republic Day, let’s go through five interesting facts about the Indian constitution:
1. ‘Father of the Nation’ wanted to burn the constitution:
B.R Ambedkar, known as the ‘Father of Indian Constitution” wanted to burn it. Only after three years of adopting the constitution, in a debate in the Parliament, on Sept 2, 1953, Ambedkar said, “My friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody.” Ambedkar was advocating that the Constitution be changed to give governors the power of oversight over state governments.
2. The man who wanted his name in every page of the Constitution:
Indian Constitution is a hand-written document. It was calligraphed by Prem Behari Narain Raizada. Raizada was born in December 1901 to a family of caligraphers. When the Indian constitution was being drafted in the late 1940’s, Jawaharlal Nehru approached Raizada to write out the first copy of the document. Raizada did not charge a single penny for the job. However he wanted his name to be written in every page of the constitution.
“But I have one reservation – that on every page of constitution, I will write my name and on the last page I will write my name alone with my grandfather’s name.” he said to Nehru upon asked about what would he charge for hand writing the constitution.
3. From Mohenjo-daro to Freedom Struggle- the illustration of India’s history:
Bound in black leather and embossed in patterns of gold, the Indian constitution has been intricately illustrated by a team of artisans from Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, under the guidance of Nandalal Bose. In each of the 22 parts of the constitution, the artisans fashioned 22 images to depict a fragment of India’s vast historical and cultural heritage. Influenced by Ajanta cave paintings and Bagh murals, these illustrations were created applying gold leaf and stone colours. Chronologically, Bose and his team charted the history of India, from Mohenjo-daro to the national freedom struggle.
4. From flannel cloth to gas chamber:
Written both in Hindi and English, the original copy of the world’s largest constitution is kept in a Helium-filled chamber of the Central Library of Parliament House. Initially, the original copy of the Indian Constitution was kept wrapped in flannel cloth and stored with naphthalene balls. In 1994, India decided to keep the original copy of the Constitution in a gas chamber. The constitution is written in black ink which oxidizes first. So after an agreement between India’s National Physical Laboratory and the Getty Institute of America, an airtight gas chamber was built to store the original copy under a controlled humidity level.
5. When Ambedkar faced criticism for delaying in the drafting:
Being the chairman of the Drafting committee, Ambedkar faced criticism or delays in finishing the work and “wasting public money.” It was said to be a case of “Nero fiddling while Rome was burning”. Naziruddin Ahmed, a member representing West Bengal had coined the Drafting Committee as the ‘Drifting Committee’. The political uncertainty, (Jinnah still demanding separation of Pakistan), diversity of India, historical factors made the making of the constitution a 2 year 11 month and 11 days long affair with a cost of Rs.64 lakhs.
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