Dr T H Chowdary
Since some time past leaders and Chief Ministers from regional parties, the Sonia Congress and the Communist Parties have been often saying that the Modi government is disregarding the “federal” nature of the Indian Republic and riding rough shod over the State’s rights. Not even once are the words Federation or federal used in any article of the Constitution of our republic. The Republic is referred to as the Union of India. Articles – 3, 352, 356 and 360 amply convey that the Union government is above and superior to the States in all matters of moment . The great persons who wrote the constitution especially, Sardar Patel,Dr B R Ambedkar and Dr Rajendraprasad were clear that India became a victim of foreign aggressions, conquests and foreign rule part by part over a period of 700 years from the 11th century. The first invasion was by sea, from Arabs in AD 626 , But that was driven off. The next was long after in AD 1000 by Mohammed Ghazni. Part by part, India was conquered part by part over a period of six centuries by various invaders Arabs, Afghans, Mongols (Mughals) and Iranians and finally by the British. Therefore our Constitution makers wanted to have a strong Central government and called the Republic the Union of States. Before 1947,India was administered as eleven British Provinces and over 500 native Indian Princes’ states like the Nizam’s , Baroda , Mysore, Bhopal and J&K etc . None of these wasan independent state,so that they could constitute into a Federation of India. Those administered by governors were called British provinces. The Muslim League and the princes had always been wanting a weak Central government. The government of India Act 1935 provided certain amount of autonomy for the provinces with overriding powers with the British Vice Roy cum Governor General. The princely states were overseen by Britan -appointed Residents supervising the governance in the princes’territories and reporting to the Viceroy in Delhi.
2. While speaking in the Constituent Assembly at the time of final adoption of the Constitution of India Dr B.R Ambedkar made the following observations to justify a strong Central government for the Union of India.
……..my mind is so full of the future of our country that I feel I ought to take this occasion to give expression to some of my reflections thereon. On 26th January 1950, India will be an Independent country. (Cheers) What would happen to her Independence? Will she maintain her Independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an Independent country. The point is that she once lost the Independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her Independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people. In the invasion of Sind by Mahommed-Bin-Kasim, the military commanders of King Dahar accepted bribes from the agents of Mohammed-Bin-Kasim and refused to fight on the side of their King. It was Jaichand who invited Mahommed Ghori to invade India and fight against Prithvi Raj and promised him the help of himself and the Solanki Kings. When Shivaji was fighting for the liberation of Hindus, the other Maratha noblemen and the Rajput Kings were fighting the battle on the side of Mogul Emperors. When the British were trying to destroy the Sikh Rulers, Gulab Singh, their principal commander, sat silent and did not help to save the Sikh Kingdom. In 1857, when a large part of India had declared a war of Independence against the British, the Sikhs stood and watched the event as silent spectators.
Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our Independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever…….”
(Source: The Makers of Indian Constitution – Myth and Reality by Sri Seshrao Chavan)
3. Further, the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Dr Rajendra Prasad made the following observation.
“ Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it. It is a trite saying that a country can have only the Government it deserves. Our Constitution has provisions in it, which appear to some to be objectionable from one point or another. We must admit that he defects are inherent in the situation in the country and the people at large. If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity, they would be able to make the best even of a defective Constitution. If they are lacking in these, the Constitution cannot help the country. After all, a Constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them. There is a fissiparous tendency arising out of various elements in our life. We have communal differences, caste differences, language differences, provincial differences and so forth. It requires men of strong character, men of vision, men who will not sacrifice the interests of the country at large for the sake of smaller groups and areas and who will rise over the prejudices which are born of these differences. We can only hope that the country will throw up such men in abundance. In India today I feel that the work that confronts us is even more difficult than the work, which we had when we were engaged in the struggle. We did not have then any conflicting claims to reconcile, no loaves and fishes to distribute no powers to share. We have all these now, and the temptations are really great. We would pray to God that we should have the wisdom and the strength to rise above them, and to serve the country, which we have succeeded in liberating”.
4. From the perspective of history and from the thoughts which guided our constitution makers especially Sardar Patel and Dr B R Ambedkar, we can see that if India is to remain indivisible, united, integral and powerful as a nation and as a Republic, we have to have a strong Central government. Those who are wanting, some unthinkingly and some deliberately, that the States should be powerful, have been always ill-intentioned. The Communist Party of India in a memorandum to the Cripps Mission in 1942 and the Cabinet Mission in 1946 said that India should be divided into 27 countries each with its own language. The CPI spoke of Kashmir as a nation even. The Muslim League, since its founding in 1906 has been wanting, more stridently over time that there should be a federation of different provinces /states with a few powers given to the federal government and residuary powers fully vested in the federating states. The Princes were also of the same opinion. If these elements had succeeded in their separatist intentions, by now India would have been disintegrated and many parts would have been grabbed by Pakistan and China.
5. With the control of the Indian National Congress passing into the hands of the foreign -origin lady since 1998, even this party which in the past headed India’s freedom movement and stood for a strong undivided country is sympathetic to the claims of the various regional parties that India should be a federation which would mean a very weak Central government. When the Congress was nationalist and not a property of a foreign -origin person and her family, the Union was strengthened by for eg: Amending the constitution to make education a concurrent subject which earlier was a state subject. According to our Constitution, certain subjects could be legislated and administered only by the Union government ; some by the states and some by both but if any state legislation differs from that of the Union, the Union’s law prevails. This again shows the primacy of the Union.
6. No regional party has shown concern about the aggressions and subversions Pakistan and China as regards internal security by and territorial integrity of India being engineered. Some of these parties are even agitating for the re-operationalisation of the temporary Articles – 370 and 35A of the constitution in regard to Jammu and Kashmir. These parties are also lending support to Muslim organisations’ demand and agitations to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act 2020 which does no harm to India’s Muslim citizens. They want that Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who illegally infiltrate into India and plead that they are persecuted in those Islamic states shall be given Indian citizenship. Muslims have nearly five score Muslim countries as members of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC). Why can’t they go to any of these countries which according to Islam constitute a borderless Umma (community)? Governments run by regional parties like YSRC in Andhra Pradesh and TRS in Telangana are distributing staggering amounts as “social welfare” naming the schemes after themselves. For example : AP’s Chief Minister transferred over Rs. 41,000 cr in the first year of his rule; (June 2019 to May 2020). He has announced pensions to SC, ST, Minority and BC women in the age group 45 (!) and 60 years. They are borrowing freely. It is such parties and Sonia Congress and the half a dozen communist parties and their secular, liberal, progressive, fellow-travelling intellectuals who are singing the “Federation in jeopardy” song.
7. The communist parties and various Muslim parties have been cherishing a weak Central government for India so that part by part can be ruled by them , ultimately seceding from India. In the period 1947 to 1951 the communist party in the Nizam’s Hyderabad dominion was supporting the claim of Nizam of Hyderabad to be independent of the Indian Union which the communists characterized as a capitalist and stooge of Anglo -American imperialism. Their idea was that their guerrilla armies could easily defeat the Rajakars and Nizams’ state forces to establish a communist state first in the Nizam’s territory and then expand it to cover the whole of India. Even after 17 Sept 1948 when the Nizam’s forces surrendered and the Nizam acceded to the Indian Union , the communists went on waging a guerrilla war until 1951 Sept against the Indian government. It is only on Stalin’s order to a delegation of Indian communists that the guerilla war came to an end in October 1951.
8. With Pakistan and China bent upon their hostility to India and both of them nurturing their fifth columns in India, it is unwise and dangerous for Indians to think of the Republic of India as Federation of the states. Ours is a Union,unbreakable and superior to every state in terms of Articles – 3, 352, 356 and 360 . Our States have considerable freedom and responsibilities in the exercise of which they share the wealth nature bestowed upon this blessed land of Bharat , of millennial civilization and a culture of universal brother-hood expressed in the words, vasudhaia kutumbakam, (the entire universe is one family) unlike other theologies and ideologies which divide humanity into mutually intolerant believers and non-believers ; exploiters and proletariats.
9. The Union nature of the Republic is being fostered and strengthened by physical integration through networks of national Railways, Highways, Powergrid, telecoms , natural gas and oil and culturally through national programs of music, talks, epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata broadcast over All India Radio and Door Darshan, uniform educational programs through Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas and Central Board of Secondary Education and NCERT – developed text books for school education; Indian and National Institutes of Technology (N.I.Ts; IITs) and Management (IIMs). Rajya Sabha (Council of States) membership which was restricted to the residents’ of the respective states has been made eligible to any Indian from any state . If a national water grid is also undertaken to comprise of all interstate rivers, reservoirs on them and national canals linking all of them the Union of India will be further strengthened enabling India to become a prosperous , powerful, intellectual and ethical Bharat to emerge as a Jagatguru once again.
(The Constitution of India so ably and sagaciously drafted, debated and adopted by great statesmen like Dr B R Ambedkar , Dr Rajendra Prsasad, Dr K.M. Munshi describes India as a Union and not a Federation. In none of the 395 Article and 12 Schedules of the Constitution the words federation or federal is used. Articles – 3,352,356 and 360 amply declare that the Union and not the States are supreme . In the words of K.M.Munshi , “ the states are merely subordinate political bodies which juristically speaking act as agents of the Union without anyright to perpetual existence”. Their formation on boundaries depend upon the will of the Parliament (Article-3) . Their powers and action under certain circumstances (Articles- 248,249 250, 251 and 252) and in emergencies suspended under part – XVIII. To court Dr Alladi, “ though the country and people may be divided into different states for convenience of administration the country is one integral whole , its people a single people living under single imperium derived from a single source”. Articles 248,249,250, 251 &252 make the Parliament of the Union supreme to legislate even on subjects listed for the States.)