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Democracy from an Economic Perspective: Overcoming Challenges through the Constitution
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Democracy from an Economic Perspective: Overcoming Challenges through the Constitution

adv mahendra jadhav1

 

 

Adv. Mahendra Jadhav

Abstract

adv mahendra jadhav1For ages, India has been a collection of numerous castes, classes, religions and, races which are exclusive in nature with no common or shared experience of love, care and harmony. Given this fact, we have to analyze the implementation of the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy provided under the Constitution which speak about removing all kinds of inequalities within society and the nation as a whole.

This paper will look into the welfare provisions provided by the Constitution for removing unemployment, poverty and illiteracy and also studies the reasons for of political/administrative failures in implementing welfare provisions and schemes.

Keywords: Indian Constitution, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy, Economics, Unemployment, illiteracy, inequality.

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Introduction

Democracy means the rule of people. We know several definitions of democracy, but without any means of implementing the democracy we cannot expect any nation to be a successful nation. An apt definition of democracy was proposed by the father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. K. R. Narayanan, in his foreword to the thirteenth volume of Dr Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, quotes Babasaheb’s definition as follows: ‘Democracy is a form or method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the economic and social life of the people are brought about without bloodshed’. He was of the opinion that, democracy is not merely a form of government, it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen. However, parliamentary democracy in India has reduced the function of the people to vote for their masters and leave them to rule. In a democratic country, it is the people of that nation who elect their representatives through universal adult franchise. People are directly involved through their representatives in decisions and policy making for the betterment of their lives.

India acquired independence from the British on 15th August 1947 and became a Republic by adopting the largest constitution. It has been the largest democracy for 71years. As compared to our neighboring countries, we are successful in becoming one of the most successful democracies of the world and rapidly growing to be the biggest market place for all the global leaders.

Most Indians speak with great pride about our Constitution and democracy as though we have achieved greatness. Indeed, the Indian Constitution is best among all the present constitutions and undoubtedly, we are the biggest and largest democracy of the world. I feel, Indian Constitution is not just a document which deals with rules and regulations of the States, provides certain fundamental rights to its citizens and directive principles to respective States, but also a set of ideas and principles of freedom, liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. It is about overall development of all sections of this great nation However, we have seen in the past 71 years that majority of the population is unemployed or underpaid/unpaid, poor and illiterate. The politicians and administrative bodies have failed to implement constitutional provisions which has resulted in large scale unemployment, poverty and illiteracy.

To make any democratic constitution successful, the countrymen must live a harmonious life, loyalty to public ends and mutuality of sympathy and co-operation. For ages, India has been a collection of numerous castes, classes, religions and races which are exclusive in nature with no common or shared experience of love, care and harmony.. Given this fact, we have to analyze the implementation of Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy provided under the Constitution which speaks about removing all kinds of inequalities within the society and nation as a whole.

There are various factors responsible for unemployment, poverty and illiteracy in this country such as caste discrimination, religious differences and a hierarchal outlook.Apart from non-implementation of constitutional welfare provisions,our internal conflicts have led to this situation. According to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, ‘If democracy and self-government have, failed everywhere, it is largely due to these wrong notions. Habits of constitutional morality may be essential for the maintenance of constitutional form of government.’1 Ever since the enforcement of Indian Constitution, we have seen rapid growth in nation life at one hand and on the other hand, we see more than 30% of the population living below poverty line. The reasons may be varying, but we have to agree that, somewhere our constitutional machineries, politicians, administrative bodies have failed to reach the common masses. Most Indians do not see the Constitution as a means of overall development rather they see it as a tool of reservation. Therefore, the very concept of a Constitution as a nation’s document, as a tool of overall development of citizens has failed.

While framing the Constitution Dr. B. R. Ambedkar carefully laid down the duties of the State in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizen enshrined in Part III (Art.12-35) of the Constitution of India. He not only provided fundamental rights to the citizens but also suggested necessary guidelines to State under Part IV (Art.36-51) as Directive Principles of State Policy. He strongly believed that if the State(s) implement the directives, the social, economic, political, cultural, educational development ofthe people shall not be far off sight.. This speaks about his wisdom of economic and social development of the people. Apart from the Fundamental Rights, there are many other articles such as, Articles 15 (4), 16 (4), 17, 19(1) (d) and (e), 29 (2), 275, 330 and 335 incorporated in the Constitution which clearly reflect his social andeconomic thoughts. He wanted to have State Socialism in this country wherein each and every individual’s rights and socio-economic development should be taken care of by the Constitution. The Articles mentioned above empowers the State to make special provision for securing the interests of socially and educationally backward classes, i.e., Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Apart from this Art.29 and 30 speaks about the special provisions for all the minorities of India which gives them right to establish their educational, religious institutions and also promote and protect their script and literature. But unfortunately, we see inequality, injustice and unequal share of income among the people.

Unemployment

Unemployment has always been the biggest problem of Indian society. The increasing ratio of unemployed youth is a big concern. There are various factors which are responsible for unemployment. Some of them are as follows –

 1. Caste System
2. Illiteracy
3. Slow economic growth
4. Lack of awareness and connectivity to globalization.
5. Increase in population
6. Slow growth of industrialization
7. Less planning and implementation
8. Immobility of labor
9. Lack of knowledge of different languages

The poor skill level among youth is also one of the major reasons of unemployment. High school dropout rates, inadequate skills training capacity, negative perception towards skilling and lack of awareness of different global techniques are some of the other important reasons for unemployment in the country. India faces a dual challenge in the employment field. Developing skills on the one hand and using the skills on the other. Compare to other nations of the world, India’s skilled labor force is very less which results in unemployment and lack of growth in respective careers. The current capacity for skilling is grossly inadequate and needs to be speedily scaled up to meet immediate skill needs of the country. There are other issues of concern in rural areas, such as poor employment growth, school dropouts, lack of connectivity with the cities and development factors. Particularly among women lack of education, gender discrimination and threat of physical harassment keeps them awayfrom employment and self-development. Though employment of rural men is slightly better than that of women, long-term trends indicate low and stagnate growth. Such trends call for diversification of livelihood in rural areas from agriculture to non-agriculture activities.

If we are to believe the data provided by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), there are 31 million unemployed youth in our country. This is way too high.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has projected unemployment in India at 18.6 million in 2018, higher than 18.3 million in 2017 in its report. The ILO released a report ‘World Employment and Social Outlook Trends – 2018’. As per the report, it is projected that the number of unemployed persons in India is expected to rise from 18.3 million in 2017 to 18.6 million in 2018 and 18.9 million by 2019. At the same time, unemployment rate is expected to remain static at 3.5 per cent during the same period.2 Considering the absolute growth of unemployment in the country, it is estimated that more than eight million jobs are required every year in India to keep its employment rate constant.

Further statistical data shows that among the world’s top countries in terms of GDP, India ranked 10th in terms of overall GDP and 11th in terms of services GDP in 2013. Among the top 15 nations, in the period of 2011-2013, maximum increase in services share to GDP was recorded by Spain(8.6pp) followed by India (5.7pp) and China (5.6pp). During 2001-13, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7 per cent, India had the second fastest growing service sector, just below China’s 10.7 per cent. Among the 15 countries, only China’s share of services in its total GDP is less than 50 per cent.3

As per the economic survey of 2014-15, the main issue to addressis not just providing employment but increasing the employability of labor force. The solution of unemployment lies in well-designed education and training regime that sets out to meet the objectives of removing unemployment in the country.

Areas of suggestions to remove unemployment:

 1. Quality of Education among the masses
2. Rural youth skill employment
3. Workshops and quality classrooms to groom English language among the youth.
4. Increase in awareness of global technology
5. Proper planning by government and implementation of policies.
6. Small Scale Industry growth
7. Schemes to encourage education among marginalized communities
8. Self-Employment scheme

Poverty

Poverty has always been a major concern of this country. The egalitarian principles of Indian Constitution speak about Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice to all the people of this country. Poverty line is decided on the basis of monthly per capita consumption expenditure of an individual. The planning commission conducts surveys from time to time to estimate the per capita income of the individual and decides the ratio of poverty of the country. When India got the independence from British the total poverty ratio was 70%. Ours is a country which is hometo the highest number of poor’ in the world and most of the people living below the poverty line. Today more than 29.8% of the total population lives below poverty line. The poor people even today fight for their basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Natural factors also add to the problem of poverty: floods, famines, earthquakes and cyclones disrupt production. Population is one of the major reasons which contributes to the menace. Joint family system, unequal distribution of income among the people are some of the reasons for poverty in India. Inequality on the basis of caste and religion also play an important role in poverty because even today, jobs, nature of work are decided by someone’s caste and religion.

The Indian Constitution provides several provisions and guidelines to the State to improve the socio-economic conditions of all the countrymen. However, we have to agree the fact that despite having the welfare provisions and schemes, the majority of population remains poor and fights for their basic necessities. The Part IV of the Indian Constitution which speaks about Directive Principles of State Policy suggests several guidelines under Articles 36-51 to improve the socio-economic conditions, but despite theseguidelines, we see large gap between the economic status among the people.

Article 38 speaks about the state’s responsibility to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people.4 This article provides the state with guidelinesto promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting an effective social order in which justice, social, economic and political shall be achieved. The second clause of the article underlines the need to minimize inequalities in income, and endeavor to eliminate inequality in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst group of people residing in different areas or engaged indifferent vocations.

Article 39: Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State: this article speaks about directing the State to enact policy towards securing5

 a) That the citizen, men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood
b) Ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to sub serve
c) the common good.
d) The operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment
e) That there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;
f) That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;
g) That children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

This single article alone can make a lot of difference in the socio-economic conditions of people. If we peruse the above article, we will understand that it speaks holistically about human values and socio-economic development. If the government take this one article seriously and enacts strict policies and implements them on a war footing, I am certain that many issues, especially economic issues will be sorted out. But again, the will to serve the nation is important than the letters of the article.

Article 41 speaks about the right to work, education and to public assistance in certain cases. This article directs the State to develop in its economic capacity, effective provisions for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.6

Article 42 directs the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.7

Article 43 speaks about living wages for workers through suitable legislations.8

Article 43A was added by Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act 1976 with effect from 3.1.1977 which speaks about participation of workers in management of industries.9

Article 45 speaks about State’s duty to provide free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.10

Article 46 directs the State to promote with special care the educational and economic interest of the weaker sections of the people and in particular of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.11

Weaker sections of the society consist of SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities. We all know that they are backward educationally, economically and find themselves on the margins of this nation.. Article 46 in other sense directsstates to promote educational and economic interest so that the educational and economical standard of these communities can rise. Unfortunately, we do not see much work from any State to implement this article and improve the lives of marginalized communities.

Article 47 speaks about the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and improve public health. This article also speaks about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purpose of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.12

India is home to more than 190 million undernourished people . That is three times the entire population of France. Almost one quarter of the total population is undernourished in India. The deaths due to hunger and poor living standards are increasing day by day. Yet the progress in reducing this problem is far fromsatisfactory.. Due to the poverty and unemployment, we have witnessed that females do not get quality food and proper care during their pregnancy which is resulting in an increasing rate of birth deaths. This pathetic condition proves that the governments have failed miserably to implement the welfare provisions provided under Art.47 which speaks about raising the levels of nutrition and standard of living and improve public health.

Article 48 directs the State to endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.13

Since the Constitution came into force, the governments at the center and State have made several laws and formulated different policies, started various programs to give effect to the above mentioned articles and provisions to improve the nation life. Unfortunately the corrupt political system and the dull administrative bodies could not implement the schemes. The parliament has enacted different laws in consonance with the directive principles of state policy such as The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, The Payment of Bonus Act 1965, The Contract Labor Regulation and Abolition Act 1970, The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act 1986, The Bonded Labor System Abolition Act 1976, The Trade Unions Act, The Factories Act, 1948, The Mines Act 1952. The government banned child labor and made it a crime in 2006. The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 and The Equal Remuneration Act 1976 have been enacted to protect the interest of women and provide equality to them at workplace.

Apart from the above acts, various other welfare provisions have been enacted to utilizes the financial resources for promoting common good of the people. The nationalization of Life Insurance in 1956, nationalization of banks in 1969, The Legal Services Authority Act 1987 have been measures to provide access to credit, insurance and free/competent legal aid to all the needy people.

While enacting the chapter of Directive Principles of State policy, the Constituent Assembly made it very clear that the State(s) in India is a welfare State. Its economy is inclusive of all sections of the people particularly the lowest of the low and is expressly non-exploitative in character. There is always a criticism that directive principles of state policies are non-justifiable. However, Art.37 defines and makes it very clear that “these principles are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.” We have to understand thatthe directive principles impose a moral obligation on the state to implement these welfare provisions so as to develop the society on socio-economic parameters. Dr. B.R.Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly very clearly said, “[…] a government which rests on popular vote can hardly ignore the directive principles while shaping its policy”.14

Literacy

Literacy is one of the most important factors in the development of any individual. Without education no human being can think of advancing in life. Education is very important for socio-economic development of the individual and society as a whole. When India got freedom from British, our literacy rate was around 12%. After 71 years of independence, as per the 2011 census India’s literacy rate is around 73%. It is too high when compared to the neighboring country’s literacy percentage considering the social and economic conditions of our county. However, when we see the disparities between gender parameters we see a huge difference in literacy percentage. There are many reasons for the same.

Looking at the social conditions of our country we see the difference of imparting education among the haves and have nots, based on caste, religion and gender. We observe there is so much disparity and partiality in providing quality education to the citizens. The metropolitan and urban centers are filled with private educational institutions wherein schools and colleges demand hefty admission fees which is far from the reach of the middle classes and those below them. . The condition in villages is a serious concern where most of the government schools are on the verge of shutting down. As a result, we see heavy school dropouts in the villages be it boys or girls!

If we are to believe the statistics of different civil society organisations and NGOs, in India, 4% of our children were never enrolled in schools . 58% don’t complete primary schools. And 90% don’t complete school. If we believe in UNESCO’s report only 10% of the total population complete their college education. We have to understand that the percentage of poor students among the college going demography is trivial!15 According to the CIA World Factbook, almost 75% of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are concentrated in ten countries (in descending order: China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo).16 India where almost 30 million young women are illiterate, we can understand where we stand in the field of education. The point to be noted here is if we compare the total population of the other eight countries (excluding China), we see that their geographical areas are comparable to a few states in India, still India has the e highest illiterate population, how shameful!

The Constitution of India provides several articles for education such as Art.15, 21A,28,30,38,39,41,45,46,47 to ensure that quality education is provided to every citizen of this country irrespective of their socio-economic background.. Unfortunately, we see the total corporatization of education system. Article 21A and Article 45 speaks about Free and Compulsory Education until the age of 14 years. However, the government is not interested in providing necessary infrastructure to government schools in cities and villages. The conditions of government schools are so pathetic that several schools are at the verge of closing down. The quality of education in government schools is so tarnished that the students can’t even think of competing with the corporate schools.

Due to the lack of quality education and poor conditions of government schools in sub-urban areas and villages, over 60 million children are forced into child labor in India. We, being an IT giant and the world’s second-fastest growing major economy, has millions of child labors all under 14 years of age, some as young as 4 or 5, and all toiling hard just to get a square meal to keep body and soul from parting company.17 Child labor is a dagger through India’s soul. The country has the dubious distinction of being home to the largest child labor force in the world, with an estimated 30% of the world’s working kids living here. You find children being exploited in restaurants, silk industry, carpet weaving, firecracker units, etc. 80% of child laborers reside in rural India, where they are forced to work in agricultural activities such as fanning, livestock rearing, forestry and fisheries, all because of lack of education!There are more children under the age of 14 in India than the entire population of the United States, children under 14 years of age account for about 4% of the total labor force in the country. Of these children, nine out of every ten work in their own rural family settings. Two out of every three working children are physically abused. Over 50% children were being subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse. 50.2% children worked seven days a week, 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse. Need not to say which social, religious background these children belong to!

After independence from colonial rule, India had adapted a number of constitutional protections and laws on education and child labor. The Constitution of India in its Fundamental Rights and the Directive of State Policy prohibits child labor below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Article 24). The constitution also envisioned that India shall provide infrastructure and resources for free and compulsory education to all children of the age six to 14 years. (Article 21-A and Article 45).Unfortunately, we the past and current governments, politicians and educational bureaucrats have ruined the dream of all our freedom fighters and nation builders that we see such a pathetic condition of education in this country.

We have to understand that the maximum population among the illiterates and child labors are from marginalized communities such as SCs STs and Muslims. All these children don’t have proper learning, no hope, neither future nor appropriate guidance to excel in life. Nothing has changed during the past 71 years of independence and despite having the greatest constitution of the world. The children are forced into modern slavery to live an undignified life without any future!

Conclusion

The government must try to bring the youth from suburban areas and villages into the mainstream by providing them quality education and proper guidance of globalization, development schemes and dignified life so that they can excel in life and take care of their families, societies and nation as a whole. Enhancing the educational quality can only bring them into mainstream which will in turn help in developing our country. These are some of the suggestions for the government to develop the educational standard in the country-Proper implementation of educational provisions provided under Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.

• Formulating various educational schemes for rural, urban children.
• Proper awareness and implementation of Right to Education Act 2009.
• Implementation of various acts enacted for the development and enhancement of educational system in rural and urban cities.
• Providing free space for girl’s education and formulate policies so that school/college dropout percentage should drop down among girls.
• Formulate and implement schemes to encourage education among weaker sections of society.
• Formulating policies so as to give effect to Art.29 and 30 of the Constitution which speaks about overall development of all the minorities of this country.
• Enhancing the quality of education in rural and urban cities and establish English medium government schools.

India is a unique nation! We have different cultures, religions, castes, races, traditions etc., considering the unique nature of this country the framers of the Constitution has taken every section of this country into consideration and drafted one of the greatest constitutions of the world. Ours is the largest democracy which is holding this nation as a unit despite various differences. One who understands the constitutional jurisprudence and has expertise in understanding the constitutional law will certainly understand that, despite having different castes, classes, religions, customs, traditions and races, we stand strong, our democracy has survived. However, due to differencesof outlook and caste affiliations among the people, we see lacunae in all spheres of life. Nevertheless, if the government implements the humanitarian principles of our Constitution I am sure, the above discussed problems can be sorted out in no time. The only problem is that of will.

As we witness these problems, let us introspect on ways to overcome them. Are we willing to change? Can we change the ongoing crisis of unemployment, poverty and education? The answer lies in Yes and No both! If we understand our duties and responsibilities towards the society and country as a whole, then certainly we can give an alternative. The choice is totally ours.

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Notes

1. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar; W&S, Vol.9; pg 203.

2.https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/ilo-projects-unemployment-rate-at-3-5-in-2018-government/articleshow/63202592.cms; visited on 6.25.2018

3. Ramesh Singh; Indian Economy; McGraw Hills Publication,2015; pg 10.3

4. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg40.

5. Ibid

6. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg 41.

7. Ibid

8. Ibid

9. Ibid

10. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.41

11. Ibid

12. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.43

13. Ibid

14. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar; Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol.VII, P.470.

15. Teach for India – NGO online portal

16. Innovative Solutions to Community Development Initiative – Online Portal – http://isdnigeria.org/

17. Ministry for Human Resource Development – Online Portal.

 

References

1. Dr.B.R. Ambedkar; W&S, Vol.9; pg203
2. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/ilo-projects-unemployment-rate-at-3-5-in-2018-government/articleshow/63202592.cms; visited on 6.25.2018
3. Ramesh Singh; Indian Economy; McGraw Hills Publication,2015; pg10.3
4. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.40
5. Ibid
6. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.41
7. ibid
8. ibid
9. ibid
10. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.41
11. ibid
12. N.K. Acharya; The Constitution of India; SP Gogia Publication;2009-10; pg.43
13. Ibid
14. Dr.B.R. Ambedkar; Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol.VII, P.470
15. Teach for India – NGO online portal
16. Innovative Solutions to Community Development Initiative – Online Portal – http://isdnigeria.org/
17. Ministry for Human Resource Development – Online Portal

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Mahendra Jadhav is an Advocate, Social Activist and writer. He has authored “Guide To Constitution­ I” and he is running a Nationwide Indian Constitution Awareness Campaign working towards enlightening the common people over their constitutional and legal rights, Human Rights, the procedural aspects of Police Station and Courts, Information on RTI and the ways to utilize the act etc. His legal firm is located in Hyderabad and he can be contacted here Email : advmj.1@gmail.com, Ph: 08008754848

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