The popular vote at the Jaipur Literature Festival for the most favourite book has gone to the Indian Constitution.
Taking place in the aftermath of the Constitutional Amendment Act and the student-led protests across the country, the 13th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival has put the Constitution on the top of its agenda. Speaker after speaker at the crowded sessions of the ongoing JLF have stood by the 'unique document', which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its adoption on January 26.
"I was born in British India as a British subject. The adoption of the Constitution on January 26, 1950 converted me into an Indian citizen," said veteran politician Margaret Alva, speaking at a session, 'Of the People, By the People: The Indian Constitution', on Saturday. "Today, 70 years later, I am being asked to prove that I am an Indian citizen," Alva, a former union minister and governor, said. Giving his vote of confidence in the resilience of the Constitution, former chief election commissioner Navin Chawla said: "So much thought went into the making of the Constitution by our founding fathers." Asked if "secular India" would survive the raging storm over CAA that gives citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from neighbouring countries, Chawla replied,
"I believe the Constitution will survive." "Citizenship is not about going to the ballot box alone, but about creating a legitimate state," said Columbia Law School professor Madhav Khosla. "The basic features of the Constitution is secularism and the right to equality under Article 14," said Khosla, the author of India's Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy.
In an impassioned speech, Alva narrated growing up in the country as an equal "in a society that accepted us as we are whether someone is Muslim, Hindu or Christian". "Are we losing our secular values?" she asked, saying, "This wasn't called into question in the last 70 years." In judgment after judgement, the Supreme Court had clearly stated before that the basic features of the Constitution wouldn’t be touched, Alva said. "I would have expected the courts to be more active. Our judicial system - the protector, defender and interpreter - of the Constitution, has failed us. The Supreme Court, which is supposed to defend the
Constitution, the fundamental rights of citizens, has gone silent at a very crucial time in Indian history." "The CAA is completely unconstitutional," said Khosla, underlining the "violation of equality" in the Constitution. "Indian democracy has to now save the Indian Constitution, not the other way round."