Constitution Day, Constitution, South Kanara..
We are back with a new topic in our ‘Focus Canara.’ As per the suggestion by many readers, we will publish the column every Saturday.
The topic which we selected for this week is Constitution Day.
While the country celebrated ‘Constitution Day,’ on November 26, what we have not noticed is various developments related to the constitution between November 26 (Constitution Day) and January 26 (Republic Day).
November 26 is observed as Constitution day. It was the day when the Indian constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India. December 6 is observed as Mahaparinirvan Day marking the death anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar. But many may not know that it coincides with the formation of the Constituent Assembly. It was on December 6, 1946, the Formation of the Constitution Assembly was undertaken. The first meeting of the constituent assembly was on December 9 (1946). On Dec 11 Rajendra Prasad was appointed president and H C Mukherjee as the vice-chairman. On Dec 13 the ‘Objective Resolution’ was presented by Jawaharlal Nehru, laying down the underlying principles of the constitution. This later became the Preamble of the constitution.
When our officials and political representatives celebrated ‘Constitution Day,’ many seem to just follow the ‘tradition,’ of celebration without even having a clear picture of what it means.
During our interaction with the youths, we have noted that many have no clear picture as to how the constitution was formed, they are unaware of the discussions in the constituent assembly, the efforts by Drafting Committee head Dr. Ambedkar, Constituent Assembly president Babu Rajendra Prasad, and their team.
In fact leaders in the Constituent Assembly had discussed all the issues (many of which we discuss now). There were heated debates, discussions. Considering all these the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly, under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, displayed unparalleled prudence and gave final shape to the Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar prepared a constitution, second to none, keeping in mind the welfare of every Indian.
But we seem to have forgotten or ignored the importance of it. Our ignorance begins with the Constituent Assembly itself.
Most of the people in our district are unaware that the undivided South Kanara has a distinct pride. Five leaders in the constituent assembly were from South Kanara. Probably no other district in the state can boast of having so many leaders in the assembly of 299 members that played an active role in the discussions.
Call it our ignorance or lack of knowledge, we hardly hear about this in the speeches or read them in the textbooks.
Benegal Narasimha Rau, his brother Benegal Shiva Rao, U S Mallayya (Ullal Srinivas Mallya), and Rev Fr Jerome D’Souza were the five from the district who were part of the Constituent Assembly.
While Narasimha Rau played a key role in the original draft of the Indian constitution, his brother Shiva Rao, a journalist and also a member of the assembly was the person who used to pen down the important points narrated by Dr. Ambedkar. H V Kamath was one of the active members of the assembly. U S Mallya known as the father of modern Mangaluru too was part of the assembly and provided his expertise. Rev Fr Jerome D’Souza was the only Jesuit priest in the assembly. He was instrumental in ensuring the rights of citizens especially minorities.
Though a book can be written about the role and contribution of each of them, our leaders, activists, academicians seem to be silent.
Many youths today feel that those part of the Constituent assembly did not foresee the future. But a look into the discussions will show how the members had discussed every issue right from cow slaughter to retirement age for politicians.
In fact in one function Canara College former lecturer Dr. P Ananthakrishna Bhat had narrated how Kamath had taken up the need for retirement age in election politics. He wanted to mark 70 years as the age after which a politician should not be allowed to contest.
Bhat recollects about speaking to Kamath during the latter’s visit to Mangaluru where Kamath had told that though his proposal was not passed, he practiced it and did not contest the election after 70 years.
As Mangaloreans, we have to take pride that five leaders were part of the Rajendraprasad – Dr. Ambedkar team in preparing the Constitution of India. It will be more meaningful if Constitution Day- 2021 is celebrated by remembering these leaders from South Kanara.