constitution of india

The Constitution Amongst the People: The Sweet Truth of it

Ordering our constitutional rights to our doorstep

While thinking about the upcoming Republic Day holiday, we started indulging in thoughts about our sweet cravings. While browsing through a popular food delivery application, we came across some tempting dessert options labelled under the “Republic Day Specials”. In retrospect, we would realise, they were tempting for us because we are  lawyers.

On clicking the tab, we expected the usual discount, themed on 26% (read 26th) or maybe if we were lucky 73% in celebration of the 73 years of the existence of the Indian constitution. When we downloaded the list of options, we refreshed the page multiple times to check if we were indeed looking at a dessert menu. Something even bigger than the 73% discount appeared on our screens – we had the option to select from The Constitution Box, a Box of Duties, even a Box of Revolution! Not far away from the Box of Duties, and first in line was the option of a Box of Rights accompanied by a Box of Freedom. Our initial response was to wonder who thought this represented Republic Day specials? But to give due credit to the marketing managers of this menu, they had gone deeper into the constitution of things and offered lucrative descriptions of what these boxes actually meant for the citizens of India, who had the power to hold their phones in their hands and order their constitutional rights to their doorstep. 

The Constitution Box was very straightforward, unlike our constitution. The description of the dessert box read, “There is no rule to have just one, so indulge in them all”. In some ways this is similar to the Indian constitution. The Indian constitution, known famously as one of the longest constitutions in the world, is also a borrowed constitution. Several parts of the constitution, like ideas on fundamental rights, directive principles of state policy, the concurrent list and fundamental duties, are all borrowed features from different constitutions across the world. So we have with us, a mix of different constitutions, and the framers of our constitution surely indulged in various research investigations to eventually box together and create our constitution as we know it. 

The Box of Duties, comparable to the way we treat our duties, explains very matter of factly that, “Your duty towards your cheesecake cravings is on point with this combo”. There have been long debates, in the Constituent Assembly of the late 1940’s till date, as to the correlation between having fundamental rights and the corresponding fundamental duties. Do the citizens of India today consider any of their fundamental duties to be on point and give them precedence over the demand for their fundamental rights? The Box of Rights cannot be too far away from the Box of Duties. The Box of Rights is clear – “You are well within your rights to choose them all”. Your rights in the end take primacy over all other cravings. This detail was not missed by those marketing the constitution. Priced the cheapest, the Box of Rights was the most attractive and viable option  but ordering the Box of Duties would cost the buyer the most.   

Last but definitely not the least we have the Box of Freedom, the one box that we all crave and continuously evoke the constitution for. This box that offered to, “Free your dessert cravings with this delicious selection of pastries” sealed the deal for us, and we decided to order ourselves freedom this Republic Day.     

In encouraging us to indulge our sweet tooth, the menus gave us a not-so-healthy dose of the constitution. While scrolling up and down several menus, the Constitution Box  was not what we had expected to encounter. It made us think – does this indicate the deep penetration of the constitution amongst the people? Receiving a discount themed on “26” or “73” has always been the usual understanding of the constitution for the food ordering, discount seeking, shopping indulgent persons. For the first time, the constitution and its various facets had been explored beyond its limited scope, and someone had turned a few pages and enumerated a few rights. Can we then cut the cake and rejoice in knowing that the constitution has become a part of the everyday lives of Indians? Either way, in support of the constitution, we decided to exercise our rights this Republic Day and ordered the Box of Freedom. When we received the desserts  in their regular packaging, we realised that the penetration of the constitution had indeed only reached the advertising stage. We hope that by the 74th year it will reach the ground deliveries.

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