Constitutional idealism and today’s India

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
30 January 2020 13:33 IST

Two meetings were scheduled to protest against the CAA and NRC. One in Mapusa other in Margao. Mapusa one was cancelled as it was not allowed by the BJP controlled local "authority" while Church almost issued a whip to its faithful to get a crowd for the Margao meet -- so much so that almost every speaker had to explain away, or I might add the word rationalize, the involvement of the organized, cultish, religious body. And this, despite the fact that introduction of a religious differential in citizenship of India is totally anticonstitutional……such that the masses should have spontaneously protested across religion and caste…. And the government should have allowed the protests as something central to a vibrant democracy.

In another instance the vocal journo Faye DSouza was not allowed by Goa government to speak at the D D Kossambi Festival of Ideas, an action that she refused to contest despite the fact that the government action is against the constitutional concept of freedom of thought and expression.

This is how fascism marches on… redefining the Indian majority from numerical to ethnic, Indian nationalism from Indian to Hindu, Indian nation from secular to Hindu Rashtra, justice from non partisan to majoritarian, defense forces from apolitical to politically vocal….

To such an extent things have been redefined that it has become difficult for the masses to distinguish the truth from untruth, fact from opinion, a simplistic solution from a statistically proven, scientifically accepted concept and even religious fervor from scientific temper.. I mean what business could Sadguru possibly have in Davos?

The reason I use the word idealism for India’s Constitutional doctrine is best elaborated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy which says the terms “idealism” and “idealist” are by no means used only within philosophy; they are used in many everyday contexts as well. Optimists who believe that, in the long run, good, will prevail are often called “idealists”. This is not because such people are thought to be devoted to a philosophical doctrine but because of their outlook on life generally; indeed, they may even be pitied, or perhaps envied, for displaying a naïve worldview and not being philosophically critical at all.

So should I say that Indian constitution is naïve in that it does not recognize the state of mind of the Indian people at large – the fact that a parallel constitution exists within each Indian’s mind – one based on religious indoctrination or on caste indoctrination or cult indoctrination (here I refer to the majoritarian thought reform cults whose conglomerate constitutes today’s Indian right wing)?

Can one become Constitutional by protesting the CAA and the NRC on streets? Can one become constitutional by reading the “holy book” of the Constitution of India in schools? OR do we need to remove this parallel constitution that exists in our minds and makes our socialism and secularism less than skin deep?

Can India ever truly be a secular democracy if there exists this nexus between the voter and his or her representative politician that we call a “VOTE BANK” – based on this parallel constitution?

Constitution of India uses the term BHARAT to mean this geopolitical entity. This term obviously is not a reference to some historical or mythological figure. There is a meaning to this term. In Sanskrit, BHA means light, RAT means devotion. Our founding fathers knew that unless the Indian is individually an enlightened citizen, such a diverse country like India can have a meaningless existence that may transition into non existence.

Constitution of India is not just the written document. It is a living personality that remains after we shed the parallel constitution from our minds, individually and therefore collectively.

A song keeps humming in my mind.... Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind…….

“Yes, and how many times must a man look up

Before he can really see the sky?

Yes, and how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, and how many deaths will he take ‘til he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind…

The answer is blowing in the wind…”

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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