Constituent Assembly and Photolithography work in the Constitution of India

Aspiration of the Constituent Assembly was reflected, first time, in Swaraj Bill 1895 moved by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the form of Fundamental Rights. Demand was repeated in  Anne Besant's  Commonwealth of India Bill, finalized by National Convention of Political parties in 1925,by Motilal  Nehru Committee in 1928 and at the Karachi session of the Indian national congress in 1932. M N Roy,an advocate of radical democracy, categorically  and officially called for the pressing need of Constituent Assembly in  1934, and Tej Bahadur Sapru in 1944-45 .Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 provided for the formation of Constituent Assembly through election.

The Assembly could abrogate or alter any law made by the British Parliament applying to India ,including the Indian Independence Act itself. Constituent Assembly was entrusted of dual functions of Constitution Making and Law Making.First session of the Assembly  was held on  December9, 1946   in constitution hall now the Central Hall of the Parliament of India. Session was chaired by Sachchidananda Sinha ,the oldest member, as per the French practice. Dr. Sinha read out the goodwill messages received from different countries. After the Chairman's inaugural address and the nomination of a Deputy Chairman, the members were formally requested to present their credentials. The First Day's proceedings ended after all the 207 members present submitted their credentials and signed the Register. Seated in the galleries, some thirty feet above the floor of the Chamber, the representatives of the Press and the visitors witnessed this memorable event. The All India Radio, Delhi broadcast a composite sound picture of the entire proceedings. On December11, 1946 Dr Rajendra Prasad  was elected chairman of the Assembly  and H C Mukharjee as the Vice Chairman of the Assembly. During the first session  Shri Raghunath Vishnu Dhulekar  demanded that  draft of the Constitution of India be in Hindi language.

Sir Benegal Narsing Rau ,who became the first Indian Judge in International Court of Justice and also helped draft the Constitution of Burma in 1947,was appointed  Constitutional Advisor to Constituent Assembly .Sir Rau referred  not less than sixty Constitutions of the world for the purpose of making the draft of the Constitution of India. He was not member of the Constituent Assembly  because of the unwritten ethical policy that no two family members shall be the members of the  Constituent Assembly. Shiva Rau ,his brother,  was member of the Assembly. The draft was submitted by Sir B N Rau in English in  Oct 1947 before sixth session of the Assembly. The draft was in English. The draft Constitution was considered by the Drafting Committee  consisting of seven members, set up on August29 1947, chaired by Dr B R Ambedkar  for 114 days. The Constituent Assembly appointed various 22 committees to deal with different tasks of the Constitution-making.

Pt Nehru moved the historic "Objective Resolution" in the Assembly on December 13, 1946 its modified version forms the Preamble of our Constitution. Preamble starts with "We, the people of India"... with the goal of ensuring constitutional autochthony.  

During fourth session on July 22, 1947, National flag was adopted by the Assembly. For the fifth session on August14, 1947   first agenda was singing of Vande Mataram by Sucheta Kriplani. On  August15, 1947 divided India came into existence on the "appointed day" despite the opposition of partition of by Aurobindo Ghosh, Dr. K. B. Hedgewar and  M. K. Gandhi. Broadcast of the message of Sri Aurobindo on the request of All India Radio from Tiruchirapalli, on the eve of Independence, clearly mentions that partition of India was not accepted and he expressed his resolution of undivided India for the progress of India and the world.

It is worth mentioning the history of idea, aspiration and word Swaraj  from the Autobiographical Notes of Sri Aurobindo: "The word Swaraj was first used by the Bengali- Maratha publicist, Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar, writer of Desher Katha, a book compiling all the details of India’s economic servitude which had an enormous influence on the young men of Bengal and helped to turn them into revolutionaries. The word was taken up as their ideal by the revolutionary party and popularized by the vernacular paper Sandhya edited by Brahmabandhab Upadhyaya; it was caught hold of by Dadabhai Naoroji at the Calcutta Congress as the equivalent of colonial self-government but did not long retain that depreciated value. Sri Aurobindo was the first to use its English equivalent “independence” and reiterate it constantly in the Bande Mataram as the one and immediate aim of national politics". 36CWSA71

At the suggestion of Prof. K. T. Shah the question of calligraphy and artistic decoration and printing of the original authoritative copy of the Constitution of India was taken. up. It was decided that the work should be started as early as possible and calligraphy should be completed by the 20th January, 1950 and the work of illumination and decoration of the calligraphed pages may continue even after that date till it is completed.

The matter to be calligraphed consisted of about 300 pages of 6½" x 9½", each page containing about 40 lines. It was also proposed to use parchment paper of the size of 14" x18" and a margin of 2½" was to be left at the top and the sides for illumination work and of l½" at the bottom. The rest of the space in the middle of the sheet was to be covered by the calligraphist. The cover was to bear the seal and emblem of the Union with a description in general and concise terms of the contents of the manuscript. . At the suggestion of Krishna Kriplani the President wrote to Nandalal Bose of the Shantiniketan asking if he would undertake the work of supervision and decoration and illumination of the calligraphed authenticated copy of the Constitution. Nandalal Bose agreed to the President's request but suggested that it would not be possible to make designs based on historical subjects as suggested by the President, owing to shortage of space in the margin, and in the alternative agreed to make ornamental designs covering the whole period of Indian civilization. A decision was also taken to Photoprint the calligraphed Constitution bearing signatures of Members at the end.

The Vedic period is represented by a scene of gurukula .Sri Aurobindo writes on Veda "At the root of all that we Hindus have done, thought and said through these many thousands of years, behind all we are and seek to be, there lies concealed, the fount of our philosophies, the bedrock of our religions, the kernel of our thought, the explanation of our ethics and society, the summary of our civilization, the rivet of our nationality, a small body of speech, Veda. From this one seed developing into many forms the multitudinous and magnificent birth called Hinduism draws its inexhaustible existence. Buddhism too with its offshoot, Christianity, flows from the same original source. It has left its stamp on Persia, through Persia on Judaism, through Judaism, Christianity and Sufism on Islam, and through Buddha on Confucianism, and through Christ and mediaeval mysticism, Greek and German philosophy and Sanskrit learning on the thought and civilization of Europe. There is no part of the world's spirituality, of the world's religion, of the world's thought which would be what it is today, if the Veda had not existed. Of no other body of speech in the world can this be said."Archives  and Research April 1977 Volume I; No 1.

The epic period by a visual of Lord Sri Rama,  Mata Sita and Lakshmana returning homeward .The  philosophical base of India in found in the Ramayan, Sri Aurobindo writes "The distinction that India draws is not between altruism and egoism but between disinterestedness and desire. The altruist is profoundly conscious of himself and he is really ministering to himself even in his altruism; hence the hot & sickly odour of sentimentalism and the taint of the Pharisee which clings about European altruism. With the perfect Hindu the feeling of self has been merged in the sense of the  universe; he does his duty equally whether it happens to promote the interests of others or his own; if his action seems oftener altruistic than egoistic it is because our duty oftener coincides with the interests of others than with our own. Rama’s duty as a son calls him to sacrifice himself, to leave the empire of the world and become a beggar& a hermit; he does it cheerfully and unflinchingly: but when Sita is taken from him, it is his duty as a husband to rescue her from her ravisher and as a Kshatriya to put Ravana to death if he persists in wrongdoing. This duty also he pursues with the same unflinching energy as the first. He does not shrink from the path of the right because it coincides with the path of self-interest. "01CWSA 236

The epic period by a visual of another of Lord Yogeshwar Krishna propounding the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield. Sri Aurobindo writes on  the  Mahabharata "The Pandavas also go without a word into exile & poverty, because honour demands it of them; but their ordeal over, they will not, though ready to drive compromise to its utmost verge, consent to succumb utterly to Duryodhana, for it is their duty as Kshatriyas to protect the world from the reign of injustice, even though it is at their own expense that injustice seeks to reign. The Christian & Buddhistic doctrine of turning the other cheek to the smiter, is as dangerous as it is impracticable. The continual European see-saw between Christ on the one side and the flesh  &the devil on the other with the longer trend towards the latter comes straight from a radically false moral distinction & the lip profession of an ideal which mankind has never been either able or willing to carry into practice. The disinterested & desire less pursuit of duty is a gospel worthy of the strongest manhood; that of the cheek turned to the smiter is a gospel for cowards & weaklings. Babes & sucklings may practice it because they must, but with others it is a hypocrisy."

Then there are depictions of the lives of the  Lord Buddha and Bhagwan Mahavira, followed by scenes from the courts of Ashoka and Vikramaditya and also the scene of tapasya of Bhagirath for the descent of Ganga. Orissan sculpture and image of Nataraj reflect the art aspect; scene of  ancient university (Nalanda) along with other great figures of our history who are represented are Akbar, Shivaji, Guru Gobind Singh, Tipu Sultan, and Lakshmibai.

The freedom movement is delineated by line drawings of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi march. Gandhiji's  weapons of non cooperation, Swadeshi and  boycott were inspired by doctrine of passive resistance as enunciated by Sri Aurobindo in 1907. Sri Aurobindo writes "The first principle of passive resistance, therefore, which the new school have placed in the forefront of their programme, is to make administration under present conditions impossible by an organized refusal to do anything which shall help either British commerce in the exploitation of the country or British officialdom in the administration of it, - unless and until the conditions are changed in the manner and to the extent demanded by the people.. This attitude is summed up in the one word, Boycott" (06-07CWSA 281 )"The second canon of the doctrine of passive resistance has therefore been accepted by politicians of both schools - that to resist an unjust coercive order or interference is not only justifiable but, under given circumstances, a duty".( 06-07 CWSA 291)"We must therefore admit a third canon of the doctrine of passive resistance, that social boycott is legitimate and indispensable as against persons guilty of treason to the nation".(06-07 CWSA 292)"Our defensive resistance must therefore be mainly passive in the beginning, although with a perpetual readiness to supplement it  with active resistance whenever compelled".( 06-07 CWSA301).

The freedom movement is delineated by line drawings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and other patriots trying to liberate "Bharat Mata" from outside India.

The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949. There are 282 signatures in Hindi copy and 278 in English copy. The provisions relating to citizenship, elections, provisional Parliament, temporary and transitional positions were given immediate effect on  Nov26 ,1949. While the rest of the Constitution came into force on the Jan26 , 1950. And this date is referred to in the Constitution as the "date of its Commencement". Constitution of India had 395 Articles in 22 Parts and 8 Schedules at the time of commencement. There are 282 signatures in Hindi copy and 278 in English copy. On that day when the Constitution was being signed, it was drizzling outside and it was interpreted as a sign of a good omen.

The Constituent Assembly  continued as  the provisional parliament of India from  January 26 1950 till the formation of new Parliament after the first general elections in 1951-52. Article 394 A (inserted by Fifty Eighth Amendment w.e.f.09.12.1987 ) provides for Authoritative text in Hindi  . Authoritative text in Hindi  was published in Official Gazette on  August23, 1988. Now Constitution of India is available in 15 languages.

CWSA: Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo

Surya Pratap Singh Rajawat
Advocate,Rajasthan High Court
Sunari House A35 Jai Ambey Nagar,Tonk Road Jaipur302018


Video on the subject:  https://youtu.be/fLsQ00yjbMU 


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