Constitution Day: Why is it so important?

To commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of independent India, November 26 is now celebrated as Constitution Day. This year, it marks the 73rd anniversary of the historic event which dawned in 1949 after India got its independence.

Constitution Day is also known as Samvidhan Divas or National Law Day or National Constitution Day and is celebrated to hail the Constitution and raise awareness on the same.

The reason for declaring it is to acknowledge and respect the contribution of the drafting committee and the framers (builders) of the structure of the Constitution which enlighten people on the prominent values it accommodates.

On November 26, 1949, the Constitution of India was adopted and it came into effect two months later on January 26, 1950.

In 2015, the Narendra Modi government declared November 26 as Constitution Day by a gazette notification. The PM also laid the foundation stone for the Statue of Equality memorial, honouring the chairman of the Constitution drafting committee, Dr B R Ambedkar.

The 125th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar was also observed in 2015.

India has two national days -- August 15, 1947, Independence Day, and January 26, 1950, Republic Day. The first, as is obvious, marks India's freedom and the second marks the enactment of the Constitution. That is the importance the Constitution holds for this young republic.

The origins of the Constitution can be traced to 1928 when a committee under Motilal Nehru as chairman was set up for determining the principles of the Constitution for India. The Nehru report was submitted on August 10, 1928.

It was an outline of a draft Constitution for India. Most of its features were later included in the Constitution. The Nehru report had put a lot of emphasis on securing fundamental human rights for the people of India, all these didn't exist as subjects of the British crown.

The Nehru report listed 19 rights, of which 10 were incorporated into the Constitution.

The Constitution of India was finally drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by members of provincial assemblies. A galaxy of learned men framed the Constitution in its present form after lengthy debates and discussions on each proposal.

The demand for the Constituent Assembly was made in 1934 by the Communist Party leader M.N. Roy, who said India should have such a body to debate on how the country should be run.

The suggestion was widely appreciated and was taken up by the Congress and finally, the demand for Constituent Assembly was accepted by the British in 1940.

The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on December 9, 1946 which was before Independence and Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was appointed its first president.
It was on August 29, 1947, that a drafting committee was constituted to prepare a Draft Constitution with Dr Ambedkar as chairman.

On November 26, 1949, India adopted the Constitution, which was signed by 284 members. The original Constitution is hand-written with each page decorated by artists from Santiniketan, including Nandalal Bose.

The process was completed on January 24, 1950, and the members of the committee signed two handwritten copies of the document. One each in Hindi and English.

On January 26, 1950, the Constitution of India came into force and became the law of the land. The drafting committee held a total 11 sessions meeting over 166 days.

The two months from November 26, 1949 to January 26, 1950 were utilised for thorough reading and revising the document. It was during then that the translation from English to Hindi also took place.