Q. 276) How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.
Before the advent of Gandhi to India, the Indian national movement was restricted to the few English educated middle class who hardly represented the society. The women, labourers, peasants, tribals and students were largely out of the freedom struggle.
Entry of Gandhi and his subsequent commitment towards the peasants, oppressed and women not only empowered people by ensuring their participation in the national movement but also gave a new direction to freedom struggle. The Hindu-Muslim unity and massive participation of dalits and tribals united the whole India for a single cause.
Gandhi introduced many new concepts and strategies which otherwise would have remained missing without him. His adherence to peaceful protest and non-violence weakened the British resolve. His concept of Satyagraha not only reformed the Indian society of its ills and evils but also consolidated the movement against the mighty British Empire. It was because of Gandhi and people’s faith in his methodologies that the support for extremists and revolutionaries remained limited. This way Gandhi prevented a large scale violent conflict with British and the subsequent bloodshed.
Ideals like promotion of grass root democracy, higher representation to women, living in harmony with nature, sustainable development, upliftment of the down trodden, truth and morality, international peace etc are some of the values that are cherished not just by India but by the entire world even today.
Since he was the unifying force that integrated people cutting across caste, religion and other regional identities, it can be argued that without Gandhi India would have been fragmented into pieces post independence. Without Gandhi, India may have achieved Independence sooner or later but the long lasting ideals and values that Gandhi left with people might have remained missing from Indian society. Therefore the contribution of Gandhi to the Indian Independence was invaluable and it is difficult to imagine a free India without the ideals and values of Gandhi.
Q. 277) It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935. Discuss.
The constituent assembly of India drafted one of the lengthiest and most comprehensive constitutions of the world within a time frame of around 3 years. To complete such a mammoth task in such a short time span would have been difficult in the absence of an earlier legal document which could serve as the basic draft. The Government of India Act, 1935 acted as the basic draft as it was a comprehensive legal document for the governance of the country.
About half of the provisions of our present constitution have been directly or indirectly derived from the Government of India Act, 1935. Features like the federal scheme for India, office of the Governor, integrated Judiciary, and Public Service Commission for union and for the states, Emergency Provisions and other administrative details were inspired from the Government of India Act, 1935. Therefore it can be argued that the GOI Act, 1935 served as the bedrock while framing the constitution for India. Besides the 1935 act, the constitution assembly referred the constitutions of various countries across the world eg USA, Canada, Germany, USSR, etc.
This way other major provision like fundamental rights, directive principles of state policy, ideals of justice, liberty etc were incorporated into the Indian constitution.
The new provisions that were to be added to the constitution were already known from the long freedom struggle and the popular demands. For example democracy based on universal adult franchise etc., India’s own experience and aspirations also helped in framing many significant provisions. For example untouchability was abolished; provisions were made to eliminate the evils of caste system. Gandhi’s wishes were added in the Directive Principles eg. Establishing Panchayati raj, promotion of village cottage industries etc.
Therefore the presence of a comprehensive draft like the Government of India Act: 1935 eased the task of the constitution assembly and the makers of constitution did not have to start from zero.