Making of the Constitution of India

Constitution of India

The Indian constitution is the longest and the most voluminous constitution of any sovereign country in the world.

As of January 2021, our constitution has a Preamble, 470 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 Appendices & 104 amendments, the last being the amendment made on January 14, 2019.

It combines both the features of a federal constitution such as the division of powers, supremacy, rigidity & independence of the judiciary, etc as well as the unitary constitution features such as the union of states, legislative representations, unified judiciary, the power to make laws, the power to form new states and to change existing boundaries, and emergency provisions.

Basic Facts

  • Longest Written Constitution in the World.
  • Second longest active constitution in the World (First - Alabama).
  • The idea for constitution was first conceived by – M.N Roy (1934).
  • Handwritten by – Prem Behari Narain Raizada (6 months for completion).
  • Decorated by artists from Shantiniketan (under the leadership of Acharya Nandalal Bose).
  • First Published in – Dehradun.
  • Photo-lithographed by – Survey of India.
  • Borrowed from – Britain, USA, Germany, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia & Japan.
  • Time taken to complete the final draft – 2 years 11 months & 18 days.
    • 11 sessions.
    • 166 days of discussion.
    • 299 members.
  • Single citizenship.
  • Fundamental rights & duties.
  • Parliamentary form of government.
After the suppression of the revolt of 1857, the British parliament passed the longest act of the time, The Government of India Act 1935 in August 1935. This act of parliamentary reforms formed the base for the new constitution.

Timeline of Making of the Constitution

The making of the constitution for a country like India with such a vast cultural diversity proved to be a very complex and Herculean task. However in front of our ancestors' iron will, soon these problems were resolved.

The driving force behind the making of the Indian Constitution is the Constituent Assembly. 

It is interesting to note that all eminent personalities of the time were present in the Constituent Assembly except for Mahtma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. At the start of the Constituent Assembly, even B.R. Ambedkar was not present, he joined later.

  • First Meeting of Constituent Assembly

    • Venue – Central Hall of Parliament House, New Delhi.
    • Chairman – Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha (temporary for 2 days).
    • Members – 207.
    • No. of Women attendees – 9.
    • Meeting began @ 11 a.m. with Acharya Kripalani (United Provinces, UP) welcoming Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the temporary chairman.
  • Second Meeting of the Constituent Assembly

    • Dr. Rajendra Prasad unanimously elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly.
    • Vice President – H.C. Mukherjee.
    • Second Vice President – V. T. Krishnamachari (1948).
    • Constitutional Legal Adviser – B. N. Rau.
    • Chief Draftsman – S. N. Mukherjee.
    • Members – 389 (after partition decreased to 299).
      • 293 – Government provinces.
      • 93 – Princely states.
      • 4 – Chief commissioner provinces
    • No. of Women Members – 17.
  • Objectives resolution

    • Jawaharlal Nehru presented the Objectives resolution.
    • Encapsulating, values, morals, and philosophies behind the constitution.
    • Later became the Preamble (Jan 22, 1947).
  • Drafting Committee

    • Head of the Drafting Committee – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
    • 7 members.
  • First Report

    • Contained 315 articles & 8 schedules.
    • Opened to public redressal for 8 months.
  • First Draft

    • First Draft of the constitution was submitted to the Constituent Assembly.
  • Final Draft

    • Final draft was adopted by the Constituent Assembly.
  • Signing of the handwritten constitution

    • 2 Handwritten Copies in Hindi & English.
    • 616 Signatures by 308 members of the Constituent Assembly.
      • First to sign on the Indian Constitution – Jawaharlal Nehru.
      • Last to sign on the Indian Constitution – Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
    • Jana Gana Mana – National Anthem.
    • Vande Mataram – National Song.
  • Legal enforcement of the constitution

    • 448 Articles in 22 Parts, 12 Schedules & 97 Amendments.*
    • 6 Fundamental Rights.
    • Approx. 145,000 words.*
    • Total expenditure – ₹6.4 million.
    • Replaced the Government of India Act 1935.
    • National Emblem – Sarnath, the Lion Capital of Ashoka along with the wheel, bull, and horse.

Malayalis in the Constituent Assembly

  • Total No. of Malayali women in the Constituent Assembly  – 3 (Annie Mascarene, Ammu Swaminathan & Dakshayani Velayudhan).
  • Total No. of Malayali Members of the Constituent Assembly – 17.
    • No of members from Cochin – 1 (Panampilly Govinda Menon).
    • No. of members from United Provinces, Uttar Pradesh – 1 (Dr. John Matthai).
    • No of members from Travancore –  6 (Pattom Thanu Pillai, P.S. Nataraja Pillai, K. Muhammad, R. Shankar, P.T. Chacko & Annie Mascarene).
    • No of members from Madras –  9 (Ammu Swaminathan, Dakshayani Velayudhan,  P. Kunhiraman, A. K. Menon, K. Madhava Menon, Qaede Millath Mohamed Ismail Sahib, B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur, K. T. M. Ahmed Ibrahim & Abdul Sathar Haji).

Drafting Committee Members

The drafting committee for the Indian Constitution comprised of 7 members. They are as follows:
  • Chairman – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
  • Members –
    • K.M. Munshi,
    • Muhammad Saadullah,
    • N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar,
    • Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar,
    • Dr. D.P. Khaitan (died in 1948) substituted by T.T. Krishnamachari.
    • B.L. Mittar (resigned due to health issues) substituted by N. Madhava Rao,

Our Constitution makers took inspiration from various other Constitutions - considering the vastness of the topic, we will discuss that in another post - while drafting the one for our country, which is why the Indian Constitution is often called a bag of borrowings.

A unique feature of the Indian constitution is that it gave the right to vote for women since its inception.

The Right to Property was also one of the fundamental rights. Article 31 of our constitution said that "No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law." However, the 44th Amendment, in 1978, deleted it.

Original Handwritten Constitution

The original constitution was written on 251 parchment sheets of size of 16 X 22 inches weighing 3.75 kg and is expected to have a lifespan of 1000 years.

Nowadays, the original handwritten copies (both Hindi & English) of the Indian Constitution, are kept in special helium-filled cases in the Library of the Parliament of India.

Republic Day & Celebrations

The day January 26 was chosen as the Republic Day because of its significance as it was on January 26, 1929, the Indian National Congress made the famous Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) to oppose British rule.

Magnificent parades and air shows by the Indian military and paramilitary troops are organized on New Delhi's Rajpath to commemorate Republic Day.

The celebrations last for 3 days, ending with ‘Beating the Retreat’, a military ceremony held at Vijay Chowk on January 29 every year.

It was first started in the 1950s by Major Roberts of the Indian Army. The evening ends with the hymn Abide with Me, a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi.

* Listed here is that of the Hindi version, whereas the English version has 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules & 115 amendments with 117,369 words.

📝 SideNotes:

  • Father / Architect of the Indian Constitution – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
  • Architect of Preamble – Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Architect of Fundamental Rights in India – Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
  • National Law Day/Constitution Day/Samvidhan Divas – November 26.
  • Constitution Hall where the Constituent Assembly convened for the first time, is nowadays known as – Central Hall of Parliament.
  • The first painter to feature on an Indian postal stamp – Nandalal Bose (1967).
  • At whose insistence did Acharya Nandalal Bose displayed his paintings at the 1938 Haripura Congress session? Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Who criticized the objective resolution presented by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly as "wrong, illegal, premature, disastrous and dangerous" – Dr. M.R. Jayakar (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar also supported his view).
  • First Guest of Honor for India's First Republic Day Celebrations in 1950 – Sukarno.
  • First President of Indonesia – Sukarno.
  • First Speaker of the Lok Sabha – G. V. Mavlankar.
  • First Indian judge in the International Court of Justice (Hague)Sir Benegal Narasinga Rau.
Thanks for reading!!!