Preamble means a preliminary statement, especially, the introduction to a formal document that explains its purpose. It is the introductory part (recital) of a bill, constitution, or statute that sets out in details about the underlying facts and assumptions, and explains its intent and objectives. Its objective is to clarify the meaning or purpose of the operative part of the text in case of an ambiguity or dispute.
It provides the guiding principles, philosophy and purpose of the Constitution of India. Some constitution experts have termed it as the heart and soul of the constitution. The constitution of the USA was the first to have a preamble of the constitution.
Objective Resolutions, which were moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on December 13, 1946 in the Constitution Assembly, provides the basis for the Preamble. The word socialist, secular and integrity were added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
The Preamble serves the following purposes:
1. It indicates that the source of authority of the constitution lies with the people of India.
2. It declares India to be a socialist, secular, secular, democratic and republic nation.
3. It states its objective to secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.
4. It provides the date (November 26, 1949) on which the constitution was adopted.
Understanding the Preamble
Preamble of the constitution resolves to constitute India into a socialist, secular, secular and democratic republic. It secures justice, liberty, equality to all the citizens of India and promotes fraternity among the people. The key words used in the preamble have been explained below:
'Sovereign' means that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion or dependent state of any other external power. India can acquire a foreign territory or cede any part of its territory subject to the limitations imposed by the constitution. The legislature of India has the powers to enact laws in the country subject to certain limitations imposed by the constitution.
The word 'socialist' was added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976. The socialist principles were already mentioned in the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the constitution. These principles strive to create a welfare state. By the addition of the word 'socialist' in the preamble made the goal explicit.
The word 'secular' was inserted in the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976. It means that all the religions in India are equal and there is no official religion of the state. So, the government should not favour or discrimate against any religion. Though word was added in 1976, but the idea of secularism was already present in the constitution. Article 25 to 28 in Part III of the constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion as a fundamental right.
The Preamble resolves India to be a democratic country. That means, the supreme power lies with the people. Due to its vastness, India has adopted Indirect Democracy. The people of India elect their representatives for the legislature through elections. So, this is also called Representative Democracy. There are two popular form of Representative Democracy- Presidential and Parliamentary. India has adopted the latter due to great diversity in its population.
In a republic, the head of the state is elected by the people directly or indirectly. Countries such as the UK, Bhutan, Japan etc are democratic but not republic. In India, the President is the head of the state. The President of India is elected indirectly by the people; that means, through their representatives in the parliament and the state assemblies..
The preamble talks about justice in three forms- social, economic and political. Historically, India had been a society of hierarchies, in which people were ranked according to their castes. This system provided privileged position to certain sections of the society and discriminated against the others. So, the social justice in the preamble means that the constitution wants to create a more equitable society based on equal social status.
The ideals of justice have been taken from the Russian Revolution (1917).
Liberty implies absence of restraints or domination on the activities of an individual. It means freedom from slavery, serfdom, imprisonment, despotism etc. Liberty provides such an environment to the individual members where they can express themselves without any fear or restriction.
• Right to Freedom (Article 19)
• Protection in Respect of Conviction of Offences (Article 20)
• Protection of Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21)
• Protection Against Arrest and Detention (Article 22)
• Prohibition of Traffic in Human Beings and Forced Labour (Article 23)
• Prohibition of Employment of Children (Article 24)
• Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
• Cultural and Education Rights (Article 29-30)
These rights of the people are protected by the constitution. A citizen can appeal to the court, in case any fundamental right is violated but all these rights are not absolute and have certain restriction.
The equality means absence of privileges or discrimination against any section of the society. The preamble provides for equality of status and opportunity to all the people of the country. The constitution strives to provide social, economic and political equality in the country. Below provisions are enshrined in the Fundamental Rights to secure social equality in the society.
• Equality before the law ((Article 14)
• Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15)
• Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment (Article 16)
• Abolition of untouchability (Article 17)
• Abolition of titles (Article 18)
To secure political equality, the constitution has provided provision for universal adult suffrage and equal value for wach vote. The Directive Principles of State Policy advocate economic equality in the country. It provides to secure the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, right to work and equal pay for equal work for men and women.
Fraternity means feeling of brotherhood. The fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens and single and common citizenship promotes fraternity in the country. Article 51-A (e) says that it shall be the duty of every citizen to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.