India marks 26 January as its Republic Day – the day WE THE PEOPLE gave unto ourselves a Constitution wherein we resolved that India was to be a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, which would secure to all its 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 and integrity of the Nation.
To bring about a just, free, egalitarian and fraternal society, the Constitution of India granted ALL its citizens, certain FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS:
The Right to Equality is one of the chief guarantees of the Constitution. It is embodied in Articles 14–16, which collectively encompass the general principles of equality before law and non-discrimination, and Articles 17–18 which collectively further the philosophy of social equality.
Right to Freedom: Article 19 guarantees six freedoms in the nature of civil rights, which are available only to citizens of India. These include the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly without arms, freedom of association, freedom of movement throughout the territory of India, freedom to reside and settle in any part of the country of India and the freedom to practise any profession.
The Right against Exploitation, contained in Articles 23–24, lays down certain provisions to prevent exploitation of the weaker sections of the society by individuals or the State. Article 23 prohibits human trafficking, making it an offence punishable by law, and also prohibits forced labour, or any act of compelling a person to work without wages where he was legally entitled not to work or to receive remuneration for it.
The Right to Freedom of Religion, covered in Articles 25–28, provides religious freedom to all citizens and ensures a secular state in India. According to the Constitution, there is no official State religion, and the State is required to treat all religions impartially and neutrally. Article 25 guarantees all persons the freedom of conscience and the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice.
The Cultural and Educational Rights, given in Articles 29 and 30, are measures to protect the rights of cultural, linguistic and religious minorities, by enabling them to conserve their heritage and protecting them against discrimination.
In a year burned into human memory by the Corona Pandemic, India has added several cuts and bruises of its own to its fragile social fabric, with scant regard for these fundamental rights, or even basic human rights.
Yet one lives in hope of things stabilizing for the better in the new year.
Happy Republic Day. Jai Hind!