On Republic Day 2023, Know Your Constitution With Shashi Tharoor

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(This article is a part of the The Quint's 'Know Your Constitution' series, to celebrate 73 years of India being a republic. Click here to view the entire series.)

As Indian citizens, we're no strangers to the Constitution. But, how well do we really know it?

As India celebrates its 74th Republic Day on 26 January, The Quint's Nishtha Gautam caught up with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for his take on India's founding document.

Rating it rather highly among other Constitutions, Tharoor observed that people are getting to know the Preamble better, as was witnessed during the CAA protests, in which parts of the Preamble were read out in public spaces, and shared on social media, apart from making their ways into the protest spaces at universities and streets across the country.

Should The Constitution Be So Easy To Amend?

Tharoor says that the Constitution's ease of amendment is to its benefit, rather than its detriment.

"In a country like India, with a majoritarian government, any effort to change the constitution, or create a "Hindu Rashtra", or adopt a single national language would be met with resistance, and rightly so," he adds. In a majority government, he adds, it becomes the government's duty even more so to respect the needs and wishes of all, including the minorities. And only then, as a nation, can we uphold Dr BR Ambedkar's vision of an ideal constitution.

However, recently, things like the Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA) may have given the impression that the Constitution can be influenced based on one's religion, caste, region or language, which is very much against its spirit.

The Most Central Aspect of the Constitution Indians Must Know?

The fact that our constitution guarantees our democracy, human rights, and has provisions to redress violations of these rights. "You can turn to lawyers and say, "Surely, this is not permitted under our Constitution" and you may well be right," says Tharoor.

On being asked that if India needs to review the amendments listed in the constitution to better impact institutional processes, he added that flexibility is a forte of the Indian constitution which is a designed in a way such that, given sufficient political will, it is prone to amendment based on contemporary demands.

He also added that the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution stands as a strong safeguard against any changes that would violate its essence.

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