Sunday, September 25th, 2022 23:48:08

DROUPADI MURMU : An Arduous Journey

By Manoj Dubey
Updated: August 18, 2022 10:58 am

India got independence from the British Government in 1947. For effective and vibrant democracy to function in the country, the Constituent Assembly of India, a sovereign body was formed on the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission which visited India in 1946 to draft the constitution for the country. On the basis of the framework provided by the Cabinet Mission, a Constituent Assembly was formed on 9th December 1946. It was elected by the Provincial Legislative Assembly constituting 389 members including 93 from Princely states and 296 from British India. This allocation was done in proportion of their population and all the sections of the society got representation in the Constituent Assembly. It started working from 9th December 1946. Its members served as the nation’s first provisional Parliament. Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected its President and H C Mukherjee as the Vice President.

The main functions performed by the Constituent Assembly were as below:

Framed the Constitution, adopted the National Flag, accepted and approved India’s membership of the British Commonwealth, adopted National Anthem and National Song besides electing Dr Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India.

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework that demarcates the fundamental political code, structure, procedure, powers and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles and duties of the citizens.

The objective resolution was moved on December 13, 1946 by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, which provided the philosophy and the guiding principles for framing the constitution and later took the form of the Preamble of the Constitution of India. The resolution stated that the Constituent Assembly would first proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic which includes all the territories retaining as autonomous units and possess residuary powers. That all the people of India shall be guaranteed justice, equality of status, freedom of thoughts, expression, belief, faith, worship etc. And that adequate safeguards be provided for minorities, backward and depressed classes.

The Constituent Assembly appointed eight major committees as below:

Constitution making Union Power Committee, Union Constitution Committee, Provincial Constitution Committee, Drafting Committee, Advisory Committee on Fundamental rights and Minorities, Rules of Procedure Committee, States Committee and Jawahar Lal Steering Committee.

Among these, the most significant was the Drafting Committee. On 29th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly setup a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr B. R. Ambedkar to prepare a draft Constitution of India. Ours is the largest written Constitution in the world and its large part deals with the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes.The Schedule Castes are basically from the backward castes of the society (Gandhiji called them Harijans). Their population was 15% and accordingly they were provided 15% reservation in the government jobs. Whereas, Schedule Tribes are the people living in the most backward areas of the country. They mostly derived their livelihood from the forests. They too were given 7.5% reservation in government jobs on the basis of their population. This reservation was a significant policy to bridge the gap between the rich and poor.

The Constitution was implemented on 26th Jan 1950. It has a Preamble and 470 articles which are grouped into 25 parts with 12 schedules and five appendices. It is amended by the Parliament from time to time.

Article 52 of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a President of India. The President is the nominal head of the government who acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. The President of India is the Head of the State of India and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The President is referred to as the first citizen of India. Although vested with these powers by the Constitution of India, the position is largely a ceremonial one and the executive powers are de facto exercised by the Prime Minister. The eligibility criteria for the President’s election: the candidate should be the citizen of India, above the age of 35 yrs, should be qualified as the member of the Lok Sabha and should not hold any office of profit under state government, union government or local authority.

Dr Rajendra Prasad was the first President of Republic of India.He was the only President who served two full terms. He was a graduate from the Calcutta Law College. He practiced law at Calcutta High Court. He came in contact with Gandhiji and gave up his practice to join the freedom movement, and began with the non co-operation movement in 1920. He was also the President of the Indian National Congress. In 1962 he was awarded Bharat Ratan, the highest civilian award of India.

India has had two Schedule Caste Presidents K. R. Narayanan and R. N. Kovind and one lady President(before incumbent) Pathibha Patil. This is the first time that India has got a TRIBAL WOMAN PRESIDENT DROUPADI MURMU.

She was born to a Santali family in 1958 in Rairangpur, Odisha. Her name given by her family was Puti Tudu. She was renamed by her school teacher as Droupadi. She did her graduation from Rama Devi Women’s College. She married a banker with whom she had two sons and one daughter. Her husband, two sons, mother and a brother all died in a span of seven years. She is the follower of The Brahma Kumari Spiritual Movement. She worked as a teacher at a school Sri Aurobindo Integral Education center Rairangpur and taught Hindi, Maths , Geography and Odia.

She joined the BJP and was elected as the Councilor of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat. She won the 2000 Odisa Legislative Assembly Election from Rairangpur Assembly Constituency and served two terms in the Odisa Legislative Assembly from 2000 to 2009. During BJP and BJD coalition government, she was the Minister of State with independent charge.

In 2015,she was appointed as the first woman governor of Jharkhand and held this office for about six years. And finally she reached the highest office of the country purely on the basis of her merit. The fact that she is there, speaks volumes for our democratic system. This is an inspiration for all the people belonging to humble background that anyone can reach the highest office in our nation. Dr Ambedkar had once said that the day a tribal woman becomes the President of India, the reservation in jobs for tribals will not be required. We wish her good luck.


By Manoj Dubey
(The writer is former Principal, Delhi Public Schools)

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