Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
(This story was first published on 25 January 2019. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark India's 73rd Republic Day.)
The final draft of the Indian Constitution which is the longest in the world, was adopted on 26 November 1949 after almost 2 years, 11 months an 17 days. It was legally enforced on 26 January 1950, the day that we celebrate as Republic Day ever since. On 26 January, here are 26 facts that you probably didn’t know about the Indian Constitution.
1. Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr Ambedkar, Was Ready to Burn It
On 2 September 1953 while debating how a Governor in the country should be invested with more powers, Dr Ambedkar argued strongly in favour of amending the Constitution.
“My friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody. But whatever that may be if our people want to carry on they must not forget that there are majorities and there are minorities and they simply cannot ignore the minorities by saying, “Oh, no. To recognise you is to harm democracy.” I should say that the greatest harm will come by injuring the minorities.Dr Br Ambedkar in the Rajya Sabha on 2 September 1953
2. The Constitution Was Originally Written in Hindi and English
The original copies of the Indian Constitution were written in Hindi and English. Each member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution, signed two copies of the constitution, one in Hindi and the other in English
3. The English Version Has 117,369 Words
There are a total of 117,369 words in the English version of the Constitution of India which contains 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 115 amendments.
4. It Is the Longest Constitution in the World
With so much of writing, the Indian Constitution is the longest of any sovereign country in the world. In its current form , it has a Preamble, 22 parts with 448 articles, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 115 amendments.
5. The Constitution Wasn’t Typed or Printed
Both the versions of the Constitution, Hindi and English, were handwritten. It is the longest handwritten constitution of any country on earth.
6. It Was Handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada
The original Constitution of India was handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in a flowing italic style with beautiful calligraphy. The Constitution was published in Dehradun and photolithographed by the Survey of India.
7. Each Page Was Decorated by Artists from Shantiniketan
The original Constitution is hand-written, with each page uniquely decorated by artists from Shantiniketan including Beohar Rammanohar Sinha and Nandalal Bose.
8. The Original Copies Are Stored in Special Cases
The original copies of the Indian Constitution, written in Hindi and English, are kept in special helium-filled cases in the Library of the Parliament of India.
9. The Constitution Declares India a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and Democratic Republic
The Preamble to the Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic and a welfare state committed to secure justice, liberty and equality for the people and for promoting fraternity, dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation.
10. Assures Its Citizens Justice, Equality and Liberty, and Endeavours to Promote Fraternity
The fundamentals of the Indian Constitution are contained in the Preamble which guarantees its citizens social, economic and political Justice; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity, and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individuals
11. 9 December 1946: The Constituent Assembly Met for the First Time
The Constituent Assembly was the first Parliament of Independent India. Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was the first president (temporary Chairman of the Assembly) of the Constituent Assembly when it met on 9 December 1946.
12. It Took Nearly 3 Years To Write It Down
The Constituent Assembly, which first met on 9 December 1946, took precisely 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to come up with the final draft.
13. 2,000 Amendments Were Made to the First Draft
When the draft was prepared and put up for debate and discussion, over 2000 amendments were made before it was finalised.
14. 26 November 1949: The Final Draft Was Ready
The Constituent Assembly sat for a total of 11 sessions. The 11th session was held between 14-26 November 1949. On 26 November 1949, the final draft of the Constitution was ready.
15. 24 January 1950: Signing of The Constitution
On 24 January 1950, 284 members of the Constituent Assembly signed the Indian Constitution at the Constitution Hall, now known as the Central Hall of Parliament, in New Delhi.
16. 26 January 1950: The Constitution Was Legally Enforced
Passed by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, it came into effect on 26 January 1950. The date 26 January was chosen to commemorate the declaration of Purna Swaraj (complete Independence) of 1930.
17. 26 January 1950: The National Emblem of India Was Adopted
The National Emblem was adopted on 26 January 1950 – the day India was declared a republic with its Constitution coming into effect. A representation of Lion Capital of Ashoka was initially adopted as the emblem of the Dominion of India in December 1947. The current version of the emblem was officially adopted on 26 January 1950, the day India became a republic.
18. Constitution of India: A 'Bag of Borrowings'
The Indian Constitution is often called a ‘bag of borrowings’. It is called so because it has borrowed provisions from the constitutions of various other countries. However, it is much more than a mere copy of other constitutions.
19. Based on a Series of Statutes Enacted by the British Parliament
Prior to the Constituent Assembly that convened in 1948 to draft the Indian Constitution adopted in 1950 and still in force to date, the fundamental law of India was mostly embodied on a series of statutes enacted by the British Parliament.
20. Borrowings From The French Constitution
The Ideals of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Come from the French Constitution. These words appear in the Preamble to the Constitution of India. Many other nations have also adopted the French slogan of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" as an ideal.
21. Borrowings From The USSR
The concept of the five year plans in The Indian Constitution was borrowed from the Constitution of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
22. Borrowings From Japan
The laws governing our Supreme Court and the concept of “procedure established by Law” were adopted from the Constitution of Japan.
23. Borrowings From Weimar Constitution of Germany
India borrowed the concept of suspension of fundamental rights during Emergency rule was taken from the Weimar Constitution of Germany.
24. Borrowings From The US Constitution
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution was inspired by the US Constitution’s Preamble. Both the Preambles begin with “We the People”.
25. Basic Structure of the Constitution Stands on the Government of India Act, 1935
The Government of India Act 1935 was originally passed in August 1935 and is said to be the longest Act of (British) Parliament ever enacted by that time. The 1935 Act was the second installment of constitutional reforms passed by British Parliament for implementing the ideal of responsible government in India.
26. Amended Only 94 Times in Over 60 Years
Amended only 94 times in the first 62 years, the Constitution of Indian has stood the test of time. As of January 2019, there have been 103 amendments to the Constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950.