“Socialist” Needs To Be Dropped From Preamble

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Sakal Gharelu Ustad, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    http://swarajyamag.com/politics/con...rt-with-removing-socialist-from-the-preamble/

    Today, 26 November is being marked as Constitution Day. That gives an opportunity to reflect on the inclusion of the word “socialist” in the Preamble in ’76 by the Indira Gandhi government. Socialism is merely a system of economic management. There is no reason it should enjoy a sacred place in the Preamble to India’s Constitution.

    For two days starting today, our parliamentarians will be holding forth on the Constitution. Today is the sixty-sixth anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution (it came into effect on 26 January 1950) and the government has decided to celebrate it as Constitution Day, with several programmes. One of them is to have officials read out the Preamble of the Constitution.

    But which Preamble? The one adopted this day 66 years ago? Or the amended one that came into effect in 1977?

    The original Preamble read: “we, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign democratic republic. . .” The 42nd amendment of the Constitution, enacted in 1976 changed this to:

    “we, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. . .”

    After being deluged by criticism for putting out an advertisement on Republic Day showing the picture of the old Preamble, it’s a no-brainer that the government will insist on the amended Preamble being read out. So yet one more opportunity to question this egregious amendment will be lost.

    [​IMG]
    The original preamble

    The issue of whether the word “socialism” should be included in the Constitution was debated in the Constituent Assembly. The exchange between K. T. Shah and B. R. Ambedkar on the issue is well known, but it is worth recapitulating.

    Shah wanted Article 1, (“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”) to read “Federal, Secular, Socialist Union of States”. Ambedkar said he could not accept this on two grounds. One, the Constitution was just a mechanism to regulate the work of the various arms of the state. “What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances.” The majority at a point of time may believe in socialism more than capitalism, but future generations may devise some other form of social organisation. “I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves”, he added.

    [​IMG]
    Ambedkar (top-right) at a meeting of the Constituent Assembly.

    His second reason for rejecting Shah’s proposal was more of a lollipop. He pointed to the Directive Principles of State Policy, especially Article 31 (this later became Article 39) which spoke of the state directing its policy to ensuring the right to an adequate means of livelihood, that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good, that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment and that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women. “If these directive principles. . . are not socialistic in their direction and in their content, I fail to understand what more socialism can be. Therefore my submission is that these socialist principles are already embodied in our Constitution and it is unnecessary to accept this amendment”.

    But Rajaji, another member of the Constituent Assembly, interpreted Article 31 differently from Ambedkar. Writing in Swarajya in April 1961, he said “there is not a word here to support the false doctrines of egalitarianism.” The principles enunciated in Article 31, he said, were to prevent cartels and monopolies. Rajaji was clear that “there is not a word in the Constitution recommending the socialistic pattern or socialism but everything was done in anticipation to prevent such mischief.” In this context, he referred particularly to the fundamental right to property (which the 44th Amendment removed).

    [​IMG]
    Rajaji

    After the Emergency, the 44th Amendment undid various bits of the 42nd amendment, but left the adulteration of the Preamble untouched.

    The issue of socialism in the Constitution would have remained just an academic exercise if it were not for the amendment of the Representation of the People Act in 1988. The amendment made it compulsory for parties to swear by the Constitution, the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. Now this makes it impossible for a non-socialist party to get registration, rendering meaningless Ambedkar’s view that future generations should be free to change the system of social organisation if they wanted.

    In 2005, Shetkari Sanghatan leader, Sharad Joshi, moved an amendment to the RPA as a private member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha. In his speech while introducing the Bill, Joshi joined issue with the argument that the term socialism is vague and can be subject to varied interpretations and hence there should be no difficulty in adhering to it. Joshi found this line of reasoning flawed.

    Three years later, the Supreme Court made a similar observation when hearing a petition challenging the 42nd Amendment by the Kolkata-based Good Governance India Foundation. Joshi said:

    “The essential part of all brands of socialism is the notion of the paramountcy of society over an individual, of social decision making over individual behaviour.”

    What is the way out?

    One way is to restore the Preamble to what it was in 1959. But this may not happen for three reasons. One, no government will have the guts to do this. Two, how can the current lot of party-affiliated MPs, who have sworn by socialism, vote to remove it from the Constitution? Socialism may be a discredited ideology but for some strange reason politicians refuse to reject it openly; they will find convoluted ways to show the most market-friendly action as being socialist. One only has to read the speeches during debate over Joshi’s amendment Bill to see the overwhelming support for socialism.

    Three, even if this were to happen by some miracle, the courts will strike it down because it violates the basic structure of the Constitution, completely ignoring the fact that the 42nd amendment itself violated the basic structure as embodied in the original Preamble. The Supreme Court dismissed the Good Governance India Foundation’s petition against the 42nd Amendment as being of academic interest only. All that the late S. V. Raju of the Swatantra Party Maharashtra sought, in his 1996 petition before the Bombay High Court was to have the word `socialism’ dropped from the RPA. That petition has not been heard till date.

    The apprehension that dropping the word “socialist” will lead to demands to drop “secular” as well is a real one. After the controversy in January, the Shiv Sena demanded that both “socialist” and “secular” should be removed from the Preamble. The meaninglessness of the RPA provision is underscored by the fact that blatantly communal parties like the Shiv Sena get recognition by swearing by secularism. In fact, Joshi pointed out that the day after the party was allotted its electoral symbol, Bal Thackeray said at a public meeting that such tricks were par for the course and that “we are not secular and we stand for a particular religion”.

    [​IMG]
    Her government inserted “socialist” and “secular” into the Preamble.

    Actually, Swatantra Party founder Minoo Masani had pointed out that the Constitution was pro-religion and not secular in the strict sense of the term. But he meant religion in a non-denominational manner.

    Raju had a way out for this conundrum. He used to say, secularism can stay because it was a value, like democracy, but socialism was a system of economic management, and hence could not be treated as sacrosanct. Joshi too said that he only wanted socialism to be removed from the RPA, while secularism could stay.

    Changing or challenging the Preamble may be an impossible battle. But perhaps the fight against the RPA needs to continue, if only to get unapologetically non-socialistic parties into Parliament.
     
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  3. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    Every time I read more about Ambedkar, I am surprised by his intellect. Read this conversation:

    Shah wanted Article 1, (“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”) to read “Federal, Secular, Socialist Union of States”. Ambedkar said he could not accept this on two grounds. One, the Constitution was just a mechanism to regulate the work of the various arms of the state. “What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances.” The majority at a point of time may believe in socialism more than capitalism, but future generations may devise some other form of social organisation. “I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves”, he added.
     
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  4. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Ambedkar was the best thing that happened after three centuries to India; and still is.

    I don't want to go into debate of him being Buddhist or pro BC, SC because I know he was made into a cult after he passed away by vested interests which polarized the society. Even missionaries use his name to divide the society.

    But when history of Hindus of Modern India will be written by sane Hindus they we see him as only bright polar star showing the right direction. The direction of sharing the power ( one direction to start with).

    Congress-I destroyed his sole that he left in constitution for vote bank politics. Adding Secularism and Socialism was day light robbery and tells how much the nation was infected through and through by these commie socialists. Heck it (India) still is, at least you and me today can call them out, but in 70s they even got the Constitution adulterated the way they want.
     
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  5. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    Why can't we question the legitimacy of adding "secular" and "socialist" since it was not done in a legitimate way?
     
  6. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    I am not able to understand your POV. Or may be I was not clear to you ?
     
  7. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    I understand what you said. I am just asking why no one has questioned the way socialist and secular were added to constitution, and its legitimacy in courts? Do you have any idea or any previous attempts on it?


    @A chauhan how do you see this issue from a legal POV? Can the addition be challenged in courts?
     
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  8. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    People did not know it, I think.

    Congis used India as taken for granted because there was no credible opposition to start with. That is why today that Italian gang leader can not tolerate sitting in opposition.

    I was the fist one on DFI to brought it to the notice of members that secularism was first introduced in 70s, not in 50s. If my memory serves well, it was an interaction with poster named @ejazr; something.

    The same thing I did at WAB where sickular bitches moan day and night about Secularism; to counter a point. After that I found many posters across different forums started mentioning the same fact, including few politicians from BJP. May be it is mere a coincidence, It might have been a known knowledge to many.
     
  9. Screambowl

    Screambowl Senior Member Senior Member

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    This socialism to me means, which comes from the word society , where every one is social, with an agenda for the welfare of whole society in India. Not that communist one.. but of course we are not a 100% socialist country.

    Policies like subsidies, MNREGA, bail outs, Funds, disaster funds.. is socialism.
     
  10. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    The purpose of this article seems to be just a nominal step to drop the word "socialist." Was India any less socialist before it was inserted into the Constitution? Will India be any less socialist if it is dropped?

    Some of the excerpts from the article:
    The current one, i.e. the one adopted in 1977.
    ______________________
    Dr. Ambedkar was correct. It is necessary for the state to ensure whatever is stated in the quoted text. Is there any political party willing to swear by the opposite at the time of registration? For example, is any party willing to swear that they will encourage concentration of wealth to the common detriment? If they do, they are sure to lose in the elections.

    This is further corroborated by the following excerpt:
    ______________________
    The fundamental right to property might as well be treated as any other fundamental right. Right to life does not mean there shall be no death penatly. Right to free speech does not mean right to lie and defame. Right to property does not mean one is allowed to accumulate large tracts of land, which was done by dubious methods, such as making illiterate peasants sign documents or oftentimes by the the threat of violence.
    ______________________
    This is a valid point, that a party that swears by something, might find it morally repugnant to change its mind after their members are elected to the Parliament. One caveat must be added, given that the Constitution allows Amendment, that even if a party swears by the Constitution, the party shall have to right to perform its Constitutional duties, which includes Amending the Constitution, without having the moral burden of having gone against what it swore by.
    ______________________
    The term "socialism" is indeed vague. Mr. Joshi might find that line of reasoning flawed, but that is just an opinion.
    ______________________
    Who said socialism is a discredited ideology? More and more socialist policies are being introduced by elected governments. The most striking example is the United States of America, once touted as the bastion of capitalism. To say socialism is a discredited ideology is a very misinformed comment.
    ______________________
    A final word: As has been indicated, this is a purely academic discussion. Whether the term "socialism" is dropped or not, we are not going to stop food rationing, we are not going to stop fuel subsidies, we are not going to stop progressive taxation, we are not going to stop reservations, and we are not going to stop a plethora of other things that are socialist. So, India will continue to follow socialist policies. Even if one day all socialist policies are ended by some event, any new election will ensure that parties espousing socialist policies get re-elected.

    Bottom line is, as long as there is democracy, socialism is there to stay. We should simply make peace with socialism, because most of us, one way or the other, benefit from it.
     
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  11. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    We all know how these socialist schemes work out for poor.

    More than 90% of social welfare work is done through given person's whims. Govt don't do any welfare.

    And all the corruption is done through these welfare schemes.

    These schemes don't reach common man's hand.

    My point is:

    It was added to satisfy Indira's ministers, not for people.

    It was the price she paid to maintain her PM post.

    These words added for the benefit of these ministers. So that they can make money as at the time they don't have money making ways to leach away public money.
     
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  12. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @pmaitra

    What, in YOUR view, does socialism mean? What does it encompass? Briefly, in a few sentences please.

    I ask because it is mind-boggling that you continue to insist that socialism is a "good thing" even after it is known to have failed worldwide and thoroughly discredited. What do you understand by this word, "socialism"?
     
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  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    "What does it encompass?"
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...-be-dropped-from-preamble.74132/#post-1107162

    "it is known to have failed worldwide and thoroughly discredited."
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...-be-dropped-from-preamble.74132/#post-1107162
     
  14. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I get your point.

    My argument was purely to state that dropping the word "socialist" will not have any effect in the policies, and some socialist policies, some of which I have listed, are bound to stay. One could argue about specific policies, and whether they work or not, but that wasn't the purpose of my post.
     
  15. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    You may think that "we all benefit" from socialism, but the fact is that everyone loses. With schemes like NREGA and subsidies, it is a lose-lose scenario.

    Look at electricity subsidies for farmers. Supposed to be a great policy to encourage farming. In reality, those who already have lands suck all the electricity, deplete groundwater levels, and status quo in society remains.

    Had there been no subsidy, we would have seen consolidation of landholdings and movement of labour to other sectors, with increased urbanization.

    Fuel subsidy - touted as a "good thing" by socialists. For decades, people like me used it in our Premier Padminis and Maruti 800s and Honda citys. This ruined government finances. It led to more inflation, which impacted EVERYONE in the nation, from people like me to a beggar on the street trying to buy his food.

    Don't say that "most of us, one way or the other, benefit from it". Most of us lose, and very few benefit. Those who benefit are the government officials or middlemen who get their "cut".
     
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  16. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    @Bangalorean, I do not think all socialist policies are beneficial, and I also do not think all socialist policies are maleficial. There is a long list of socialist policies, and cherry picking a few examples is not a comprehensive way to comment about socialism, which, as has been stated multiple times, is a vague concept.
     
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  17. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    When you yourself claim that "not all socialist policies are beneficial", why do you attempt to defend "socialism" and "marxism" as concepts?

    By the way, what are these beneficial policies of socialism? Can you provide 4-5 beneficial socialist policies?
     
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  18. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    You have mentioned some of these:
    1. Subsidy to farmers (not as much as in the US).
    2. Buying grains at a fixed rate.
    3. Prevention of consolidation of landholding.
    4. Diesel subsidies.
    5. Reservation.
    6. Educational subsidies.
    Ok, you asked me to list a few beneficial socialist policies, I listed them. We can argue about the merits and demerits of each. For example, if the government gives subsidy in one sector, it has to increase taxation in another sector. So, from a holistic PoV, it is a zero sum game. I get that. So, sum total might remain the same, but individual sectors benefit. People benefit from diesel subsidies, and that is one reason why people buy diesel cars. Of course, they might be paying taxes elsewhere that covers the diesel subsidies, but then, they might not be the only ones paying those taxes.

    Here is an example of socialism (click the link and you will be surprised).

    Also, when some socialist policy helps me, I will support it. If it doesn't, I will oppose it.
     
  19. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @pmaitra

    Wait, are you telling me that these points you mentioned are beneficial aspects of socialism?! Or did I misunderstand you?

    It is NOT a zero-sum game, holistically or otherwise. Any money that is "collected" by paying excess taxes elsewhere is going to be sub-optimally spent, with leakages etc.

    You make use of Diesel subsidy, let's say. And you ruin the nation's finances in the process. We lose forex, we get inflation, and this harms EVERYONE. So what, you say - it is compensated by additional tax on Diesel cars? NO. First of all, the tax collected is not sufficient to cover the subsidy in the lifetime of the car's usage. But even worse, all this money that is collected goes to babu coffers, and they redistribute it partly among themselves (corruption), partly dole it out (give fish instead of teaching people how to fish - no skill development, just permanent dole). To enable all this dole out, they meet, travel, etc. For their travel, they are mandated to use Air India at 10 times the rate charged by Indigo/Jet. Further bleeding. Money going from left hand to right hand.

    If these are your examples of "beneficial socialist policies", God help us.
     
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  20. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    @Bangalorean, I see no typo in my comment. What you have read is what I meant. You need to read the comment as a whole.

    How the money is spent is a matter of policy. Who decides whether it is optimal or sub-optimal? Leakage is different, and is included as part of calculations.

    You presented ONE argument with "let's say," then extended it to "socialist policieS." I can argue on specific cases with data, not conjured up assumptions.

    Yes, if hypothesis A is assumed to be true, then a certain socialist policy can be bad. If hypothesis B is assumed to be true, then the same socialist policy can be good.

    "Let's say" [sic] hypothesis B is true, so, we don't need God's help.

    Edited to add:

    I was not interesting in going into specifics, but here you go.

    There are 100 people in a town. Everyone pays the same cess for diesel subsidies, which is meant to benefit truckers transporting food. 20 people in the town buy diesel cars and use them. So, these 20 people benefit at the expense of the 80 other people. So, it is wrong to say it harms everyone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
  21. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    It is not that difficult to see which policies are sub-optimal. @Bangalorean - already pointed them above.

    Giving floor price to farmers and purchasing food at high prices and then subsidizing diesel to give cheap food to consumers or restricting market entry in agricultural wholesale market and then running anti-hoarding campaign---does that sound efficient to you??

    These policies are contradictory in their nature and hence sub-optimal. Govt. needs to give up control in one market at least to make it slightly more efficient.
     

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