Jodhpur, Rajasthan- Over the past 2 years, the Department of Political Science, Public Administration, and the Nehru Study Centre at Jai Narayan Vyas University (JNVU) in Jodhpur have spearheaded innovative initiatives. One such ground breaking endeavour is the online discussion campaign centered on the Constituent Assembly debates, which has gained remarkable momentum. With a total of eleven historic sessions, these discussions delve into the crucial dialogues held by the Constituent Assembly.
Spanning from December 9, 1946, to January 24, 1950, the sessions marked the foundational pillars of India's governance. For the first time in 76 years of independent India, JNVU is meticulously revisiting and discussing each session of the Constituent Assembly.
Six sessions have been exhaustively reviewed so far, attracting millions of viewers on YouTube. Dr. Dinesh Gehlot, Director, Ambedkar Studies Centre, JNVU Jodhpur leads these discussions, accompanied by various subject matter experts.
The Constituent Assembly took almost three years (two years, eleven months and seventeen days to be precise) to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India. During this period, it held eleven sessions covering a total of 165 days. Of these, 114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution. The Constitution-makers had gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries, and the Draft Constitution was considered for 114 days. The total expenditure incurred in making the Constitution amounted to 64 lakh.
As to its composition, members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission. The arrangement was: (i) 292 members were elected through the Provincial Legislative Assemblies; (ii) 93 members represented the Indian Princely States; and (iii) 4 members represented the Chief Commissioners' Provinces. The total membership of the Assembly thus was to be 389. However, as a result of the partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan and representatives of some Provinces ceased to be members of the Assembly. As a result, the membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299.
" From December 9, 2021, the university initiated a workshop series focusing on the work and proceedings of the Constituent Assembly, aiming to provide students with a profound understanding of the Assembly's objectives and the pivotal role of its members in shaping the nation", Dr Gehlot said in a conversation with The Mooknayak.
These discussions and re-enactments aim to evoke interest in the Constitution among the younger generation. By providing insights into the circumstances surrounding its formation, it bridges a connection between today's citizens and the architects of the Constitution, fostering a deeper faith in this fundamental document.
"Interestingly, the university has been organizing each discussion according to the original schedule of the meetings held by the Constituent Assembly. Six sessions have already been covered, and now, on 4th November, the 7th session will commence, continuing until 8th January 2023', Dr Gehlot said. Eminent scholars, academicians and researchers across the state have enthusiastically participated in the past events.
First Session: 9-23 December, 1946
Second Session: 20-25 January, 1947
Third Session: 28 April - 2 May, 1947
Fourth Session: 14-31 July, 1947
Fifth Session: 14-30 August, 1947
Sixth Session: 27 January,1948
Seventh Session: 4 November,1948 - 8 January, 1949
Eighth Session:16 May - 16 June, 1949
Ninth Session: 30 July - 18 September,1949
Tenth Session: 6-17 October,1949
Eleventh Session: 14-26 November,1949
A significant historical event was highlighted on the night of August 14, 1947, when the Constituent Assembly convened in a special session. Sucheta Kripalani's rendition of "Vande Mataram" echoed, followed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad's address on India's freedom struggle, Pandit Nehru's impactful speech on India's Tryst with destiny, and the inaugural speeches of Choudhary Khalikajma and Sarvepalli Radha Krishnan. The night concluded with the Assembly officially assuming governance, symbolized by the swearing-in ceremony at midnight.
On 14th August 2022, a late-night online session was conducted to rekindle the spirit that prevailed 75 years ago. During this session, students pledged their commitment and faith in the values embedded within the constitution. It was a reminiscent re-enactment of the memorable night of 14th August 1947, mirroring various events. The solemn swearing-in ceremony at midnight symbolizing the Constituent Assembly assuming governance, the proposal to appoint Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy, the moving presentation of the national flag by Hansa Mehta, and the stirring rendition of 'Saare Jahaan Se Achcha Hindostan' and 'Jana Gana Mana' by Sucheta Kripalani.
The Constituent Assembly convened for the first time on December 9, 1946, in New Delhi's Constitution Hall, now recognized as the Central Hall of Parliament House. The grand chamber was adorned with a new appearance, featuring a radiant display of bright lamps suspended from the high ceilings and wall brackets.
Amidst overwhelming jubilation, the esteemed members took their places in semi-circular rows, facing the Presidential dias. The desks, equipped with electrical warming, were positioned on sloping green-carpeted terraces. Among those in the front row were eminent figures such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sarojini Naidu, Hare-Krushna Mahatab, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sarat Chandra Bose, C. Rajagopalachari, and M. Asaf Ali. A total of 207 representatives, including nine women, were present.
Commencing at 11 a.m., the inaugural session started with the introduction of Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the temporary Chairman of the Assembly, by Acharya Kripalani. In his welcoming address, Acharya invoked divine blessings and urged Dr. Sinha to lead the proceedings smoothly.
Dr. Sinha, amid applause, read out goodwill messages from various countries. Following the Chairman's inaugural address and the nomination of a Deputy Chairman, the members were formally asked to present their credentials. The day's proceedings concluded after all 207 present members submitted their credentials and signed the Register.
Seated in the galleries, representatives of the press and visitors, situated some thirty feet above the Chamber floor, observed this historic event. The All India Radio, Delhi, broadcast a comprehensive audio coverage of the entire proceedings.