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Preamble To The Constitution - Decoded

Jan 25, 2023

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We see the phrase Preamble to the Constitution of India almost every day but do you know what it means? Or why is it essential for UPSC aspirants to know and understand its contents? Let us find out in this blog. 

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution is its soul. It contains and defines the hopes and aspirations of the people of India in clear words. It is the preface that highlights the entire Constitution. 

The Indian Constitution and the Preamble are essential topics within the Indian Polity syllabus and are highly important for your UPSC-GS preparation. 

The Preamble to the Constitution contains four main ingredients within it. The first ingredient is the source of the Indian Constitution, from where it derives its power. Second, it outlines the nature of the Indian State. Third, it lays down the objectives of the Constitution of India, and finally, fourth, it gives us the date of the adoption of the Indian State. 

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution: Four Main Ingredients 

Source of the Indian Constitution

The words, 'We, the People of India, ' confirm that the People of India are the source of the power of the Constitution.  

Nature of the Indian State

The nature of the Indian State is defined as a sovereign, republic, secular and democratic nation.

Objective of the Indian Constitution

Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are given as the objectives of the Preamble of India.

Adoption Date of the Constitution of India

The Indian Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949.

Preamble to the Constitution of India
Introduction to the Preamble to the Constitution of India

Now let us look at each of these four ingredients in detail. 

Also read: How to prepare Indian Polity for UPSC Prelims

Source of the Indian Constitution

The source of the Indian Constitution tells us from where the Constitution derives its powers, and it is mentioned at the beginning of the Preamble, "We the People of India." 

This means that the Constitution is made by and for the people of India. It is not given to them by any outside power. This also emphasises the idea of popular sovereignty, as shown by the famous political philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. He highlighted the concept of 'General Will' in his book 'The Social Contract.' 

The Social Contract Preamble to the Constitution of India
The Social Contract, first edition by philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau

Moreover, it is not just Rousseau who emphasises the idea of popular sovereignty. Other prominent political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke agree that all individuals enter into a social contract where they voluntarily give up some of their natural freedom to secure protection from violence inherently present in the freedom of others. 

Next, we shall look at the Nature of the Indian State. 

Also read: Constitution Day of India - Facts, Significance and History for UPSC exam. 

Nature of the Indian State

In the original Preamble, the Indian State was described as a 'sovereign democratic republic' only. Later, the terms' secular' and socialist' were added to the Preamble after the Parliament passed them during the Emergency in the 42nd Amendment. The Preamble has been amended only once, on 18 December 1976. 

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Let us look at the nature of the Indian state in detail. 

Sovereign 

The term sovereign means that India is an internally and externally sovereign nation. It is free from the control of any external power and has an elected government internally. India makes laws that govern its people, and no external force can dictate its government to act in any way. 

Socialist 

The term socialism refers to the economic philosophy where the State owns the means of production and distribution. Although the State of India declares itself as a socialist state in the Preamble, it has an amalgamation of a capitalist and a socialist economy called a mixed economy. In a mixed economy, private production and state-owned production exist together. 

Secular 

The term secular was added to the Preamble to the Constitution in 1976 when the government added it during the Emergency. Secular here means that India has no state religion, and everyone can practice any religion. According to the Constitution, all persons residing in India can profess, practice and propagate any religion of their choice. 

Democratic

A democratic government earns its authority from the people's will, which is what the Preamble to the Constitution indicates. In a democratic State, the rulers are elected by the people and are responsible for fulfilling their needs. 

Republic 

A democratic republic is the opposite of a monarchy, where there is a fixed head of State. In a democratic republic, the head of State is elected, directly or indirectly, for a fixed tenure, and the post's eligibility is not hereditary.  

Also read - Preparation Strategy for UPSC CSE 2023

Apart from the above, the Preamble to the Constitution also includes the Objectives of the Indian State, which are the following:

Justice (of a social, economic and political nature),

Equality (of status and opportunity),

Liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship), and finally

Fraternity or Brotherhood - this assures the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. 

The Preamble to the Constitution also contains the date of adoption by the people of India. 

Also read: Must-know articles of the Indian Constitution

When was the Constitution of India adopted?

Although the Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November 1949, most of the articles in the Constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950. Article 394 states the articles that went into effect immediately from 26 November 1949 onwards. 

Preamble to the Constitution of India

Article 394 states that this article and articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392 and 393 shall come into effect immediately while the remaining provisions of the Constitution shall come into force on 26 January 1950. That day shall be referred to as the day of commencement of the Constitution.

26 January was selected for the commencement of the Constitution because, on this day in 1930, the Indian National Congress proclaimed the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj). 

And that is everything you need to know about the Preamble to the Constitution. 

Before we finish, how about some interesting facts about the Indian Constitution that will surprise you?

Let's go. 

Also read: How to choose the right optional subject for UPSC Mains.

5 Interesting Facts About The Indian Constitution

  1. The Indian Constitution is a handwritten document that took six months to complete. 

Prem Behari Narain Raizada was the calligrapher behind the original Indian Constitution and wrote it in flowing italic style. The Government of India assigned him a chamber at the Constitution House. 

Do you know what's surprising? He did not demand a fee. Instead, he requested permission to write his name on every page of the document, including his grandfather's name at the end. 

  1. It is an artfully designed Constitution.

The Constitution of India is a beautifully designed, hard-drawn document by Acharya Nandalal Bose and his pupils in Kala Bhawan, Shanti Niketan. The Acharya painted the principal images. The Preamble to the Constitution was painted by one of his pupils names Rammanohar Sinha. 

  1. It is a costly document.

The total expenditure to finish the Constitution of India was Rs. 6.4 million. 

  1. It contains the best of other constitutions. 

Our forefathers had no hesitation in learning from the experiences of other countries, therefore, willingly borrowed from other nations. However, it would be incorrect to say that our Constitution is a borrowed document. 

Although various provisions in the Constitution are borrowed, they have been modified to suit the essence of India. The Constitution has provisions from 10 other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, USSR (now Russia), the UK, the USA, Germany, South Africa and France. 

  1. Original copies of the Constitution

The original copies of the Constitution are kept in the Parliament Library in New Delhi. It is held in a box filled with helium and wrapped in flannel cloth surrounded by naphthalene balls.

And that is everything you need to know about the Preamble to the Constitution. 

Topics like the Preamble to the Constitution of India are crucial to mastering subjects like Polity and the UPSC CSE syllabus. Even in general, officers of the Indian government, and especially IAS officers, IPS officers and IFS officers are expected to be fluent in what the Preamble to the Constitution tells us. 

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