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Shyam Benegal’s ‘Samvidhaan’ and the erasure of Ambedkar
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sanket garud

 

Sanket Garud

sanket garudSamvidhaan: The Making of the Constitution of India was a ten-part television mini-series based on the making of the Indian Constitution, directed by Shyam Benegal. The show premiered on 2 March 2014 on Rajya Sabha TV, with an episode scheduled to air every Sunday morning.

The serial in its very first episode (you can watch it here) wrongly attributes a very important statement on the Constitution of India by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to M.K Gandhi.

M.K Gandhi is shown speaking in the 38th minute of the 1st episode of Samvidhaan

“I feel, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot “

However this thought on the Constitution of India was of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s. It was part of a speech he had delivered in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November, 1949. Participating in the debate on the Government of India Act (Amendment) Bill which he had moved he had made the above remarks in one of his interventions. An excerpt from his speech: 

As much defence as could be offered to the constitution has been offered by my friends Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar and Mr. T.T. Krishnamachari. I shall not therefore enter into the merits of the Constitution. Because I feel, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of State such as the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The factors on which the working of those organs of the State depend are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics. Who can say how the people of India and their purposes or will they prefer revolutionary methods of achieving them? If they adopt the revolutionary methods, however good the Constitution may be, it requires no prophet to say that it will fail. It is, therefore, futile to pass any judgement upon the Constitution without reference to the part which the people and their parties are likely to play.

It is not just this one glaring error, Samvidhaan has at several places tried to erase historical facts and attempted to hide the real Ambedkar.

The Team has portrayed a wrong and utterly false image of M.K Gandhi by crediting him with articulating Dr. Ambedkar’s original thoughts on the Constitution. Such dishonesty needs to be strongly condemned. The mischief done to change the original history of India is inexcusable.

The makers of Samvidhaan have cleverly misguided the audience through their attempts to change facts, and for a government owned television channel to have attempted to belittle Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy is highly objectionable. There is an urgent need for a critical examination of all episodes of this serial and other such shows which try to propagate factually wrong, partisan accounts of India’s history.

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 Sanket Garud is a Class 11 Arts student who is interested in subjects like Sociology and History. He admires Dr. Ambedkar and is inspired by his life and work. He aspires to battle against caste and wishes to be a social scientist and reformer.

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