• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

A Perfect Constitution for Imperfect People

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 26, 2013


On this day in 1950, India formally adopted its Constitution and became a Republic. The unthinkable was achieved and an unknown future awaited 350 million people. A population that had been oppressed for over thousand years by hundreds of invading armies, was free. Indians finally had a country to themselves and for the first time in history, the right to vote. We became a democratic republic. Were we prepared for it? I doubt it.

My belief in the righteousness of the Indian Constitution is total and unwavering. A country as diverse as ours has been a stable democracy for over 60 years. We have faced no military coups or major religious conflicts. If that was not miraculous enough, we have grown into a significant economic entity and are headed in the right direction. Slowly, yes, but surely.  Everytime I look at the demographic spread of India, my respect for the founding fathers and their foresight only grows. The fact that we are still a united country is a testament to the greatness of our Constitution.

But what explains the ills that pervade the Indian society today? Why are we ranked so low in almost all human development indices? Why are women still not safe in India and why is there so much poverty and destitution in the country?  Any panelled discussion on the above topics inevitably ends up pointing fingers at our politicians and their corrupt ways. While I do not agree with the attitude of blaming our politicians for all the mess, I am particularly disturbed when the “civil society” raises doubts about our constitutional institutions. And this questioning of our Constitution and our system has become a fashionable trend lately. To all these people my answer is clear, “Ours is a perfect constitution”. We are “Imperfect People”.

In a democracy, the government and politicians are a reflection of the people. In India, I have absolutely no doubt about the verity of this. We have corrupt politicians and bureaucracy because we are corrupt. Women do not feel safe on our cities’ road because we in our houses do not respect our women. The devils that commit heinous crimes like rapes are no strangers to our land. They have come from among us. We do not have good infrastructure, because we refuse to pay our taxes. We have such economic inequality because our caste system has tuned us into accepting an unequal society. We have a population explosion problem because we “f#@ked up”, literally! I could go on and on.

The devil lies within us. Lets not blame the politicians or the constitutional institutions for our own failures. Lets be thankful that our great constitution gives us a chance to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. We can do this. Lets become the greatest human beings in the world, and leave the rest to the constitution.

Thats it. I’m done.

21 Responses to “A Perfect Constitution for Imperfect People”

  1. Very true….Our Constitution is complete and undoubtedly very strong and powerful and if followed and understood righteously then no force no matter how powerful it maybe ,can never challenge us(WE INDIANS)…HAPPY REPUBLIC DAY …..

  2. My pleasure as always ….

  3. Reblogged this on John R Childress . . . Rethinking and commented:
    This essay and reflection is true not only of India, but certainly the USA as well.

  4. Raunak: You speak for many Americans as well. thanks for the swift kick up the butt to all of us to be better people.

  5. Well Raunak ,I needed a favour…i mailed you something to have an advice so kindly suggest me something on that whenever you get some time….my id is –

  6. “In a democracy, the government and politicians are a reflection of the people.”

    Raunak, there is an entire subset of economics called Public Choice Economics which deals with the political sphere. It has been called “politics without romance.” Instead of politicians being assumed to be benevolent ‘public servants’ faithfully carrying out the ‘will of the people’ they are assumed to be guided by their own self-interests. Public choice economics assumes that voters support candidates they think will make them better off, bureaucrats pursue career advancement and politicians seek election or reelection to office. The conclusions of public choice economics explain much of our frustration with traditional democracy and calls into question the truth of your statement quoted above.

    It all comes down to the fact that incentives matter and big government, democratic or otherwise, attracts a particular type of person and /or provides an incentive for politicians and bureaucrats to act in a certain type of way that is not conducive to the interests of society as a whole. Most people in the private sector share a motivation to produce something that other people want to buy at a price that at least covers the cost of making it. To fetch this price, the product or service has to have certain qualities that meet expectations. Competition is not perfect but it generally ensures that in most cases expectations are met or the company goes out of business.

    Politicians, on the other hand, have an incentive to get elected/re-elected which means they are motivated to support, or appear to support, policies that voters want implemented. Once they are in office the incentive disappears and some politicians will choose to renege on their campaign promises with very little downside risk. Many politicians will choose to take bribes on behalf of sectional interests, disguised as campaign contributions. Others will act in a way that maximizes their chance of a future well-paid job in a regulatory agency or lobbying firm. Government bureaucrats may seek government employment either because they are public-spirited or because of the benefits. Once they are employed there is little or no risk of them losing their job so their behavior often changes. They do the minimum work necessary and become committed to expanding their department and its budget.

    The people may be good and well-intentioned, but if they have a large and powerful government, it will be corrupt and dysfunctional. That is the nature of the beast. All power corrupts…

    • Raunak said

      Malcolm, thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are always enriching.

      Public Choice Economics does explain the current situation quite well. However, I have been fortunate enough to have worked with a few honest politicians and bureaucrats. Power corrupts, yes, but only when the moral fiber of the society has been weakened. In an awakened society, corrupt politicians are an exception. Unfortunately, in present times it is honesty that is an exception.

      You are so right about big governments encouraging corruption. While we must work at strengthening the moral fiber of the country, it is imperative that we rid the government of its absolute powers in several domains of governance.

  7. Wonderful! This idea applies to Americans, as well. “Imperfect” is a nice word for what we are! haha!

  8. themightyf said

    Raunak, excellent post. India seems to be at a crossroads. I think the key (for every country) is first coming to the realization that women do indeed hold up (probably more than) half the sky.

  9. soumyav said

    very true Raunak! its we would need to change and bring the change

  10. How many people in India get a reasonably high level of education? I don’t mean university level, I mean learning how to read and write properly, understand maths, and develop enough knowledge of science to know what is unhygienic, what is illogical, and what is plain superstition?
    I’ve got this theory that you cannot have a real, functioning democracy unless an adequate percentage (at least 80 I think??) of the population is educated to this level. By real democracy, I don’t just mean that everyone can vote, I mean that they understand what they are voting for.
    Based on talking to lots of people in lots of countries over many years, I have the impression most people who lack education never fuss about, of get involved with, injustices and abuses of power, as they tend to assume politicians are educated people and there must be a logical explanation for what they are doing.
    I think that educating the masses makes change evolve, and you cannot impose it upon people who have not been prepared for it in this way.
    What do you think?

    • Raunak said

      TSH…I couldn’t agree more! Education/Awareness is so important for a democracy to prosper. The problem I see is that too much focus has been laid on making people literate but not on providing them the right education.
      There are so many dimesions to this discussion. Just not able to fit it here.

  11. Looking forward to reading through more. Great post. Wonderful.

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