These are the true facts :
1. The Constitution ‘guaranteed’ equality among the people vide Articles 14 to 18, which were proclaimed as fundamental rights. Also, Article 38(2) stated, “The state shall strive to minimize inequalities in income”. Article 39(c) stated that the state shall direct its policy to ensure that there is no concentration of wealth.
But what is the reality today? It is reported that 7 Indians own wealth equal to the wealth of the bottom 50% of the 135 crore Indian people who are abysmally poor.
Muslims, dalits and women are often discriminated against
So much for equality!
2. Article 21 ‘guaranteed’ liberty. But sedition and preventive detention laws make a mockery of it, as exemplified by the arrest and detention of Kashmiri politicians like the 82 year old Farooq Abdullah and others for the last about 6 months, fabricated cases of the Bhima-Koregaon accused, arrest and dismissal on flimsy charges of the the brave police officer Sanjiv Bhat who dared to give an affidavit in the Supreme Court implicating Modi in the massacre of Muslims in 2002, etc. Even a satirical tweet can result in deprivation of liberty, as illustrated by the case of Abhijit Iyer Mitra, whose bail application was rejected by the Supreme Court, the much flaunted ‘custodians of the rights of the people’ with the flippant and cruel remark by that sexual pervert CJI Ranjan Gogoi “You are safest in jail”.
Although in Romesh Thapar vs State of Madras—a judgement given by the Supreme Court a few months after the promulgation of the Constitution in 1950—it was held that in a democracy people had the right to criticize the government, it is often dangerous to do so. In West Bengal, the Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested for circulating cartoons of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and a farmer, Silanath Choudhary, was arrested for telling Banerjee in a public rally that she had not kept her election promises. The Manipur journalist Kishorechand Wangkhem was arrested for criticizing the CM Biren Singh.
In Tamil Nadu, the folk singer Kovan was arrested for singing a song criticizing the then chief minister Jayalalithaa for profiting from state-run liquor shops. In Maharashtra, the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested on sedition charges for making a cartoon depicting politicians as corrupt.
So much for liberty!
3. The Preamble to our Constitution calls India a secular republic, and Article 25 ‘guarantees’ freedom of religion. But that did not prevent lynching and attacks on Muslims by gau rakshaks, prosecution of Muslims on false charges, hate speeches against them and their victimization, and vandalism against churches in Delhi or persecution of Christians in Odisha.
So much for our secularism!
4. Article 39(f) directs the state to ensure that children develop in a healthy manner, and Article 47 directs it to raise the level of nutrition. And yet over 70 years after independence, 48 per cent of Indian children are malnourished, and the situation has grown worse under Modi’s rule.We have the distinction of having over one-third of the world’s malnourished children (see data given by Global Hunger Index). In this respect, we are worse than sub-Saharan countries like Somalia.
5. Article 39A states that the state shall ensure that the legal system promotes justice. But with 33 million pending cases and cases often taking decades to decide, and a large section of the judiciary having become corrupt, is justice not a joke in India
6. Article 41 states “The state shall make effective provision for securing the right to work and education, and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age and sickness.”
The right to work can only be ensured when there is rapid industrialization and the economy is growing, creating millions of jobs. But recently the Indian economy is tanking, GDP is slipping, manufacturing sector ( e.g, auto sector ) is nose diving, IT sector, real estate sector etc in the dumps, with sales down and massive lay offs. At the same time prices of foodstuffs, fuel etc have soared.
But our state is in the hands of our crooked netas who have no inkling how to resolve the crisis, but are only interested in power and pelf, and care two hoots for this provision (probably very few would even know of its existence). They can only resort to gimmicks like building Ram temple, cow protection, Yoga Day, Swatchata Abhiyan ( cleanliness drive ), abolition of Article 370, CAA, etc, and of course bashing our scapegoats, the Muslims, as Jews were bashed in Nazi Germany, to divert attention from the real problems.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his 2014 election campaign, promised creation of 2 crore jobs annually if BJP came to power. But it is estimated demonetization alone destroyed 2 crore jobs, and unemployment is mounting to record heights in India, as admitted by National Sample Survey, a Govt of India organisation.12 million youth are entering the Indian job market every year, but the number of jobs is declining. Many of these youth will end up as criminals, beggars or suicides.
As for good education, it is available only to a few in India, and most schools are in an abysmal condition.
The same can be said of the state of public health in India, despite Article 47. For the rich and mighty, there are state-of-the-art hospitals, but for the masses, there is little.
7. Article 43 states that the state shall endeavor to secure a living wage to workers, industrial or agricultural. But with the massive level of unemployment in India, and the contract system largely replacing security in employment, a worker dare not ask a wage higher than whatever pittance he gets, lest he lose his job. And as for agriculture, this provision is a cruel joke on the over 300,000 farmers who committed suicide in India.
8. Article 48A directs the state to protect and improve the environment, but the pollution levels in most Indian cities (even the capital Delhi) have reached record heights, and our rivers are badly polluted.
9. Article 51A(h) states that it is the duty of all citizens to promote the scientific temper. But we have a Prime Minister who said that the fact that Lord Ganesh had the head of an elephant shows that ancient Indians knew head transplant surgery and genetic engineering. We have a Governor ( of West Bengal ) who said that Arjun had arrows with nuclear power and ancient India had flying chariots. Last year in the Indian Science Congress some ‘scientists’ made India credible claims that the Kauravas were born by stem cell and test tube technology, and there were guided missiles, aircraft and airports in ancient India.
10. Citizenship will be denied to Bangladeshi Muslims who have been living in Assam for decades, though it will be granted to Bangladeshi Hindus by the Citizenship Amendment Act
So what is there to celebrate about? Cheer haran has been done to our Constitution, and there seems to be no Lord Krishna to save the country’s honor.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own].