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View of Parliament building in New Delhi | Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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ThePrint asks:

Is there a need to debate the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Indian Constitution?

The need for debate for revising socialism and secularism, or any other dimension of any Constitution, is important. The Constitution is a living document which keeps changing by adapting to the needs of the time.

The need for an overhaul of the Constitution has also been evidenced by the setting up of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) in 2000. Our Constitution has already been amended 101 times.

Therefore, there is no reason to look down upon the proposition of amending the Constitution per se. However, care needs to be taken that the spirit of the Constitution is not changed. This has been ensured by the Supreme Court via doctrine of Basic Structure, which limits the legislature’s ability to do away with the basic features of the Constitution.

Here are other sharp perspectives on the question: 

Gautam Bhatia, Supreme Court lawyer
Sanjay Hegde, senior advocate at the Supreme Court

Coming to the point of revising socialism and secularism, it needs to be put into perspective that both these words were not part of the original Constitution and were added through 42nd Constitutional Amendment, at the time of Emergency. The word ‘socialism’ has already lost its meaning after the economic reforms of 1991, when India embraced the free market principle. This certainly makes a case for revising ‘socialism’.

Secularism, apart from being mentioned in the Preamble, is applied, under Fundamental Rights, where all citizens are given equal rights, irrespective of their religious beliefs. But there is certainly a need to define the word ‘secularism’ and its meaning within our polity. Currently, it leaves a scope for discretionary interpretation. Therefore, the model and practice of secularism needs elaboration.

Hence, the debate for revising socialism and secularism is certainly welcome, but care needs to be taken that such revision is only progressive in nature.

Raghav Pandey is a Research Fellow with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Mumbai. He can be reached at raghav10089@gmail.com, Twitter: @raghavwrong

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3 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Words like TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILIY is needed to be added to the preamble,which every Public servant forgets after assuming Power.

  2. Are we allowed to panic after neurotic people like Hegde are done with their Constitutional amendments? Or should we wear T shirts saying Be Calm, and watch the country explode

    • u r allowed to panic but not we . Majority of the people are ok to remove the word secularism. If you think if its ok to divide a country in the name of caste, its ok to divide it in the name of religion.
      Secularism means appeasing minorities at the cost of majority.. now repeat again Secularism means appeasing minorities at the cost of majority.


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