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Samvidhaan: The Making of the Constitution of India (Episode 2) (OneStop Sharing)

September 19, 2019


In December 1946, as soon as work on the Constitution began the 600 year old British Parliament severely criticized the 6 day old Constituent Assembly of India. The criticism was from a man who considered India the slave of Britain Sir Winston Churchill. Maulana, listen to the rubbish Churchill spoke in the House of Commons! Nonsense! Losing the election has affected Churchill’s judgement. He goes on to say: And who is he, the father of the bride? The absence of Muslim League members was deeply felt. So when Mr Jinnah indicated that their working committee would decide on 20th January when they would join the Constituent Assembly, Dr M R Jaykar proposed that until the Princely States or the Muslim League came into the assembly, debate and vote on Aims and Objectives Resolution be postponed. This delay did not please everyone. Immediately after Dr.Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Dr. Ambedkar rose to make his maiden speech. Awaiting Jinnah’s response, the Aims & Objectives resolution was postponed till 21st January. But a counter to Mr Churchill’s baseless speech was needed urgently. This was taken up by the Assembly President Dr Rajendra Prasad. In London’s House of Commons, last December Mr Churchill said that this Assembly represented only one religion of India. He also called this Assembly ‘a body of Hindus’. He further asked, This is contrary to facts and mischievous in intent. So I find it necessary to formally state the facts. The facts are: In this preliminary session, out of 296 eligible members, 210 attended. These consists of 155 Hindus, 30 Scheduled Caste, 5 Sikhs, 6 Indian Christians, 5 representatives of backward tribes, 3 Anglo-Indians, 3 Parsees, and 4 Muslims from 80 also attended. The significant absence of the Muslim League, we all deeply regret. But it is clear from the numbers I have recounted that to describe this Assembly as representing only one community or as a body of Hindus is simply untrue. On 20th January, without ascribing any reasons, Jinnah Saheb postponed the meeting of the Muslim League working committee. Dr Jaykar took back his amendment to postpone the Objectives Resolution and on the 22nd January, the Constituent Assembly’s first and most significant proposal was passed. In response – Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah, declared the Constituent Assembly itself illegal. The native princes were also upset with Pandit Nehru’s resolution. The Nawab of Bhopal gave voice to the unease of the Princely States at a press conference. We had to per force call this press conference because Pandit Nehru’s resolution passed in the assembly is against the agreement reached with the Cabinet Mission. And we are totally opposed to the bringing and passing of any such agreement in the Constituent Assembly. Pandit Nehru has said that he is personally against monarchy, rajas and nawabs. What is your view on this? Pandit Nehru, in his personal capacity, can hold and express any view. But if he tries to force his resolution on us, then let him be warned that the rulers of 550 native states will not sit idle. If this is the attitude of the majority party at present then god knows what will happen when the British leave. I will read the statement prepared by our Chamber of Princes. The Objectives Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly is full of dangerous potentialities, that is why we had to define clearly the Chamber of Princes’ point of view. In the beginning of 1947 people with great hopes from the Assembly, were raising all sorts of demands. But in England’s House of Commons, Prime Minister Attlee made an important but dramatic announcement. This is All India Radio. Today Prime Minister Attlee has said that His Majesty’s Government finds that differences amongst Indian parties, is preventing the Constituent Assembly from functioning properly. This uncertainty is dangerous and cannot be indefinitely prolonged. Our government wishes to make clear their definite intention to transfer power to responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June 1948. The task of transferring power to Indian hands will be that of the new Viceroy Admiral Viscount Mountbatten, to ensure future happiness and prosperity of independent India. This will be the real test: forming and running our own government. We are ready, Bapu. Sardar and I have prepared a list. There is not one in the list who does not share our views or who has been loyal to the British. That may be so Sardar. But does serving the British make them our enemies? They too are Indians afterall. And given a chance, they will serve India as well. All right, when we select the 14 ministers the only criterion will be their capability. Keep in mind, another thing: of the 14, seven should be non-Congress members. And your cabinet must have women, Muslims, Parsees, Sikhs and of course Harijans. We already have Jagjivan Ram on our list. And Ambedkar? He has long been been my opponent. But it is also true that no one knows as much about constitutional matters as he does. If you do not use his knowledge and experience it will be India’s loss not his. Lord Mountbatten, immediately upon arriving, met all Indian leaders. Nehru, who he already knew, was the first. Both agreed that Jinnah’s stubbornness would prove a problem. And they were right. Meeting Mountbatten, Mr. Jinnah insisted that in the east Assam and Bengal, and in the west Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province be included in Pakistan, with a corridor running through Delhi, Rampur, Lucknow, Patna and Calcutta joining both parts. The Viceroy refused the corridor and Assam or all of Punjab and Bengal. To this Mr. Jinnah replied But Bapu still tried to bring his Kathiawadi brother around. After you. I’m going to meet Lord Mountbatten to suggest that if required he can dismiss the interim government and ask Jinnah to form a ministry of his choice. Only, he should abandon the idea of Pakistan. Bapu, you are sacrificing your people for the sake of a man who has always opposed you? If sacrificing my own can save India, so be it. That maybe your personal view Bapu, but will the Central Assembly go along with you? Then you must promise me that Congress will not use its majority to block a Jinnah led government. Bapu, I have always respected your opinions. But this time I feel that your suggestion has no merit. Even if we make a pledge, will Jinnah ever trust an assurance given by Congress? And is it easy to persuade so many members of the Assembly to silently accept the whims and fancies of Jinnah? Instead of being part of this madness, I’d rather resign. Bapu, even Lord Mountbatten knows that the idea of a Muslim League government right now is foolish. Maybe you know better. Anyways, what is the use of an old man like me here. I should be in Bihar and Bengal where riots have erupted again. Here you people are enough to take care of Delhi. Getting the Congress and Muslim League to agree, was like getting a tiger and a goat to graze together. But by end of April during the Assembly’s second session, many nominees of the native states had joined as members. Baroda, Cochin, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Rewa and Patiala sent their nominees to the Constituent Assembly. The irony was that at a time when people wondered if they would remain Indian citizens or become citizens of a new nation, at the same time the Constituent Assembly was also discussing citizenship. Will any person born in the union, be it German or Japanese, become a citizen of India and enjoy citizenship rights?
154 00:24:48:03 00:24:48:15 Please note the wording “subject to jurisdiction”. Children born of foreign cousuls and diplomats will not be included. Suppose a child is born to a Japanese lady travelling through India… …what then? I propose we postpone discussion on this clause. In spite of the merriment, the situation had turned serious. Jinnah Saheb had decided to fight to the bitter end. As the Viceroy’s proposal for division of India was announced, many felt that instead of allowing poison to consume the entire nation it was better to amputate the diseased limb. The Congress working committee met in a somber mood. You’ve heard Lord Mountbatten’s scheme for self-determination in certain parts of India, we have on one hand the danger of secession and on the other the hope of independence. We have therefore decided to accept this proposal. Congress kept giving concessions to the Muslim League hoping they would join the Constituent Assembly. What did we get in return? Riots, arson, murder! We should have taken a decision based on our principles of non-violence and Swaraj. But now the only democratic way left for us is to accept the proposal of Lord Mountbatten. I do not think the present decision is the right one but perhaps we have no other alternative. Unfortunately we have only two options before us. On one hand we face riots and strife, and on the other bowing before the stubborn stance of the Muslim League. I am sure this line will divide only the map, and not people’s hearts. God-willing, it will be a short-lived Partition. And we will again be one. The Congress always talked of Indians, not Hindus or Muslims, as we are doing today. We desired a nation that is whole and undivided. Now the acceptance of this proposal will shatter our dream of a harmonious India. As for myself I prefer British slavery to a divided India. Today India has a chance of gaining its freedom. Should we fritter it away? And to say let the Britsh go home, then we will solve everything is wrong. How will we solve everything? Does anyone know what mess there will be once they leave? Some may not like what I have to say, but sometimes to prevent disease infecting the whole body, it is better to cut off the diseased limb and throw it away. On 3rd June, 1947 the Viceroy uttered those words that changed India’s map tearing apart hearts, homes, families and lives. The announcement of 3rd June created a great furore. Tension and violence spread quickly. But the Assembly had to work regardless of all else. At the session of July 14th, Muslim League members finally joined the Assembly but only from those parts of India not included in Pakistan. Ambedkar was re-elected, but from Bombay because during Partition his seat became part of East Pakistan. A good sign was that most of the 552 native states, had now agreed to be a part of India. Sir, by the end of this week the British parliament would have legislated to set India free. And on the 15th of August 1947, we will finally be free. That independence for which we have been waiting for centuries. We have now a homogeneous country though our borders have shrunk. We can look forward to going ahead towards our cherished goal of strength and independence. We now have representatives of the Muslim League amidst us. I am sure that they come as loyal and law abiding citizens of India, and will fully co-operate in framing a constitution so that their minority can secure an honoured place. A week later, when Jawaharlal Nehru rose to speak, he held not a proposal but a piece of fabric before the Assembly. Glory to mother India.
229 00:38:23:02 00:38:25:08
230 00:38:25:12 00:38:28:15 H.V. Kamath habitually opposed every clause. But the rest of the members supported India’s new flag. Mohammad Saadulla was fulsome in his praise. I think this flag is more than a flag. It represents our hope, and the story of our struggles and sacrifices. This is what Islam teaches us. And the League and Qaid-e-Azam have stressed that we must be loyal to the government and constitution of our chosen land. Therefore I salute the flag presented before the House by Pandit Nehru. For 27 years, we have struggled for freedom under a tricolour. It is natural to have the same colours on the national flag. I am pained by actions of certain communal elements at this time. The other day at a function related to Hindi, people misbehaved and this flag was torn from some cars and thrown away. To insult this flag because of communal prejudice is an insult to India. Glory to mother India.
250 00:41:07:17 00:41:09:17
251 00:41:09:19 00:41:11:22 The fifth session was to begin on a historic day: 15th August, 1947. Proceedings began on the evening of the 14th August, in anticipation of the moment for which Indians had long waited. At this solemn moment of our history, when after years of struggle we are taking over the governance of our country, let us offer thanks to the almighty, who shapes the destiny of men and nations. And let us offer homage to many men and women, known and unknown, who to achieve this day sacrificed their lives, smilingly walked to the gallows or faced bullets, who spent lives in prisons, experienced living death in cells of Andamans, who without hesitation left their parents, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even their country. Who sacrificed everything they had. It is because of their sacrifice and devotion that we are seeing this day. Let us also pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi who pulled us out of despondence and despair and gave us a spirit which enabled us to stand for justice, to claim our birthright of freedom and Swaraj. Who placed in our hands the matchless weapon of truth and non-violence, which won us the invaluable prize of Swaraj without violence. This country, willed by god and nature to be one, is now divided in two. I confess that we are sad at this separation. Even then, we send our best wishes to the people of Pakistan. I propose that we stand in silence to honour those who died in the struggle for freedom in India and elsewhere. Now Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru will present his motion. Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny and took a pledge and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, perhaps it is still not complete, yet a big goal has been reached. It is only fair that at such a time, our first act should be that we take a pledge, that we resolve again.. to serve India and its citizens. In a few moments, this Assembly will become free and self-determined and will represent a free nation. We have reached a goal and there is celebration. Yet we know that there is no joy in the length and breadth of India. In our hearts we have much resentment and not far from Delhi big cities are burning, and the heat can be felt here as well. Happiness cannot be complete, yet on this occasion we have to face these challenges with courage. Now I shall speak in English. India and the world listened to Nehru’s speech and waited for the midnight hour. Now, when the people of India, through sacrifice and suffering have attained freedom I…
300 00:51:18:18 00:51:21:14 a member of the Constituent Assembly of India… After the pledge the national flag was presented. I pray, may this flag bring happiness and prosperity to all those living under its protective care. Sucheta Kripalani then sang Iqbal’s “Sare Jahan Se Achcha”. After which, were heard the words of an anthem which still makes every Indian breast swell with pride. To welcome a free morning, every prominent Indian was present in Delhi. All except one: Mahatma Gandhi. He was far away in Calcutta where together with H.S. Suhrawardy, the Prime Minister of Bengal, he was dousing the fires caused by Hindu-Muslim riots. On the morning of 15th August he conducted a prayer session at 5 am, as was his daily habit. Bapu, we are an independent nation from today. How will you celebrate this day? Such days of happiness come only by the blessings of God. So I will pray and thank the lord. This is my way. But there must be something special today? Yes. Today is my son Mahadev’s birthday and his day of nirvana. So I will observe a fast in his memory. May God grant good sense to all!

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