‘Constitutional Design’ Chapter Notes are given here. These study notes are based on the NCERT textbook in Political Science for class 10 Social Science Syllabus. These Notes cover all topics of the chapter and will help in revising the chapter. Notes are properly sequenced with proper headings and sub headings. So, enjoy your studies with study notes.
Constitutional Design Notes
The chapter focuses the development of the South African Constitution and Constitution of India—how were they made, in which circumstances or condition. Lastly the concept of institutional design is discussed.
- Democratic Constitution in South Africa
- Why do we need a constitution?
- Making of the Indian Constitution.
- Guiding Values of the Indian Constitution.
Democratic Constitution in South Africa
How was the apartheid practised in South Africa?
- Apartheid was a system that separated people on the basis of the colour of their skin.
- Whites regarded non-whites as second-class citizens and denied them the right to vote.
- Non-whites were not allowed to live in white areas.
- They were only allowed to work in white areas with special permission.
- Whites and blacks had different trains, buses, taxis, hotels, schools, libraries, movie halls, beaches, and swimming pools.
- This practice was called ‘segregation’.
- Blacks were not allowed to worship in the same churches as whites.
- Blacks were not allowed to form alliances or oppose the heinous treatment they were receiving.
Struggle against apartheid
- From the 1950s, the blacks, coloureds, and Indians started their fight against the apartheid system through protests, marches and strikes.
- The African National Congress (ANC) was at the forefront of the fight against segregation policies.
- Workers’ unions and the Communist Party were among those involved in the struggle.
- Some sensitive whites joined non-whites in their fight against apartheid and played a key role in the struggle.
- Apartheid was condemned as unfair and discriminatory by several nations.
- Role of Nelson Mandela
- The white South African government prosecuted Nelson Mandela for treason for raising his voice against apartheid.
- In 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison along with seven other leaders.
- He spent the next 28 years on Robben Island, South Africa’s most infamous jail.
Towards a new Constitution
How was the constitution of democratic South Africa framed?
- As anti-apartheid protests and struggles grew, the government’s repression could no longer keep blacks under its control.
- The white government’s policies were altered, and racist laws were repealed.
- Political party bans and media sanctions were abolished.
- After 28 years on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela was released.
- On 26 April 1994, at midnight, the apartheid regime came to an end, paving the way for a multi-racial government.
Rise of a new democratic South Africa
- The party that governed through tyranny and violent killings sat down to draft a joint constitution with the party that led the freedom struggle.
- After two years of discussion and debate, they came up with one of the best Constitutions the world has ever seen.
- The following are the features of the South African Constitution:
- The Constitution gave its people the broadest set of rights in the world.
- They concluded that no one should be excluded from the quest to solve the nation’s problems; no one should be considered a demon.
- They all decided that everybody should play a role in the solution.
Why was there a need for a Constitution in South Africa?
Situation in South Africa:
- The white community in South Africa was particularly concerned with safeguarding its rights and property.
- The black community wanted to be certain that the democratic principle of majority rule was not compromised.
The only way to build and maintain trust in such a situation was to write down some rules of the game that everyone would abide by. These supreme rules that no government would be able to ignore are called a constitution.
The constitution led to rise of a new Democratic South Africa as discussed above but it was possible because of mutual consent and concessions.
- Long negotiations between the oppressor and the oppressed resulted in a settlement.
- The whites agreed to:
- Majority rule and one-person, one-vote principle
- Some fundamental rights for the poor and the workers
- The blacks agreed to:
- Majority rule that would not be absolute
- Majority not taking the white minority’s land
What is a constitution?
- A constitution is a set of principles and rules that govern a country.
- The constitution is the supreme law that determines the relationship among people living in a territory and also the relationship between the people and government.
Importance and need of a constitution in a democracy
When we see the example of South Africa, then we understand why we need the constitution and what constitutions do.
We need a constitution because:
- It represents the ideology that guides the administration of the country.
- It articulates the people’s aspirations for a better society.
- It serves as the government’s rule book.
- It outlines the government’s powers and limits.
- It defines the boundaries of its activity.
- It sets out the processes and instructions for forming the government.
- It lays out citizens’ rights and responsibilities and guides the government to ensure that citizens’ fundamental rights are upheld.
- It promotes the confidence and coordination that are necessary for people to unite.
- It acts as a collection of principles under which a society can function.
Relationship between countries and constitutions
- The existence of a constitution does not imply that a country is democratic.
- However, all democratic nations have constitutions.
Making of the Constitution in India
How was the Constitution of India framed?
India after independence
The Constitution of India was drawn up under very difficult circumstances.
- The partition was a traumatic experience for both India and Pakistan.
- Both countries lost at least ten lakh people in partition-related violence.
- The nation was formed with a partition based on religion.
- The British had left it up to the rulers of the princely states to determine whether to merge into India or Pakistan, or to remain independent.
- The merger of these princely states was a complex and challenging operation.
- At the time, the people of India were changing from being subjects of an imperial power to being citizens of a free country.
The path to Constitution
- In 1928, Motilal Nehru and eight other Congress leaders had drafted a constitution for India.
- In 1931, the resolution at the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress discussed the idea of India’s Constitution.
- The introduction of legislation, elections and voting rights given by the British gave a section of Indians familiarity with democratic institutions.
- This aided them in establishing their own democratic institutions in independent India.
The Constituent Assembly
- The Constituent Assembly, which had a fair geographical and societal representation of India, drafted the Indian Constitution.
- That is why, after seven decades of enforcement, citizens around the country continue to uphold the Constitution.
- The first elections to the Constituent Assembly were held in July 1946.
- The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was in December 1946.
- The Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949.
- The Constitution was enforced on 26 January 1950.
- Over the course of three years, they worked for 114 days.
- Every document presented in the Constituent Assembly and every word spoken there was recorded and preserved.
- This took the form of 12 bulky volumes known as Constituent Assembly Debates.
Guiding Values of The Indian Constitution
The Dream and the Promise
- Eminent leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru have primarily inspired the guiding values of the Indian Constitution.
- Gandhiji himself was not the member of the Constituent Assembly yet his vision of social, economic, political and cultural unity was followed by the members.
- In his ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech, Jawaharlal Nehru pledged, among others, for dedication, humanity, responsibility.
- The vision of such leaders has been embedded in the Preamble as an introduction to the Constitution of India.
Philosophy of the Constitution
- The values that motivated and influenced the freedom movement and were in turn nurtured by it formed the foundation of Indian democracy.
- The Preamble is an introductory statement in a constitution that states the reasons for the constitution and its guiding principles.
- It establishes a standard for examining and evaluating any government law or action.
The Preamble and its key words
- WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA – The Constitution was drafted and approved by the people through their representatives, rather than by a king or any other outside authority.
- SOVEREIGN – People have the ultimate authority to make decisions on both internal and external issues. No foreign power has the authority to impose its will on India’s government.
- SOCIALIST – Wealth is created in a social setting and should be shared equitably by all members of society. To reduce socioeconomic inequality, the government should regulate the distribution of land and industry ownership.
- SECULAR – Citizens are free to practise any religion they choose. There is, however, no official religion. All religious views and practices are treated as equal by the government.
- DEMOCRATIC – People have equal political rights, elect their rulers and hold them accountable. The government operates under a set of fundamental principles.
- REPUBLIC – The position of the Head of the State in India, namely the President, is not a hereditary one but one that is elected for five years by the members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and State Assemblies.
- JUSTICE – Citizens must not be discriminated against based on caste, religion, gender or any other characteristic. Inequalities in society must be eliminated. The government should work for the welfare of all people, particularly those who are marginalised.
- LIBERTY – People have no unfair limits on what they think, how they convey their thoughts or how they put their thoughts into action.
- EQUALITY – Before the Constitution, everyone is an equal. Traditional socioeconomic inequality must be eliminated. The government should ensure that everybody has a fair chance.
- FRATERNITY – All should act as though they are part of the same family. No one should regard a fellow citizen as an inferior citizen.
A constitution is not just a statement of the state’s values and philosophy; it is about encompassing these values into institutional arrangements. The constitution mostly talks about such institutional arrangements.
- The Indian Constitution enshrines its principles through its institutional design.
- This also makes provisions for incorporating changes in the Constitution (Amendments) with changing times.
- It restricts what the government can and cannot do by granting people certain rights that cannot be abused by the government.
- It describes administrative structures.
- It establishes a method for selecting the government.
Important Terms of the Chapter ‘Constitutional Design’
African National Congress (ANC): The umbrella organization that led the struggle against the policies of segregation.
Treason: The offence of attempting to overthrow the government of the state for which the offender owes allegiance.
Constitution: Supreme law of a country, containing fundamental rules governing the policies and society in a country.
Apartheid: The official policy of racial separation and ill-treatment of blacks followed by the Government of South Africa between 1948 and 1989.
Privilege: A right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right).
Political Party: A group of people with a definite agenda and who intend to acquire power in the government.
Minority: A small group of people within a community or country, differing from the main population in race, religion, language, or political persuasion.
Clause: A distinct section of a document.
Constituent Assembly: An assembly of people’s representatives that drafts a Constitution for a country.
Constitutional Amendment: A change in the Constitution made by the supreme legislative body in a country.
Bill of Rights: Sometimes called a ‘declaration of rights’ or a ‘charter of rights’, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.
Draft: A preliminary version of a legal document.
Philosophy: The most fundamental principles underlying one’s thoughts and actions.
Preamble: An introductory statement in a constitution which states the reasons and guiding values of the Constitution.
Universal Adult Franchise: Every adult, rich or poor, irrespective of their religion-caste or education, colour, race, economic conditions, is free to vote.
Philosophy: The most fundamental principles underlying one’s thought and actions.
Liberty: The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s behaviour or political views.
Republic: A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.
Fraternity: (in terms of Constitution): refers to feeling of brotherhood and a sense of belonging with the country among its people.
Security: The state of being free from danger or threat
Tryst: A meeting or meeting place that has been agreed upon.