In 65 years of Indian Constitution, which is a contract between government and citizens, the most important thing considered synonymous with it is fundamental rights. Fundamental rights are set of clauses which government pledged to fulfill with immediate effect on 26th Jan 1950. Along with these rights, government also pledged to fulfill some clauses but not with immediate effect. These clauses were called Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines/principles given to the central and state governments of India, to be kept in mind while framing laws and policies. These provisions, contained in Part IV of the Constitution of India, are not enforceable by any court, but the principles laid down therein are considered fundamental in the governance of the country, making it the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws to establish a just society in the country. The principles have been inspired by the Directive Principles given in the Constitution of Ireland and also by the principles of Gandhism; and relate to social justice, economic welfare, foreign policy, and legal and administrative matters. The spirit of this article is to see if, after 65 years, these goals have been fulfilled or not.
The government has made and is making many efforts to implement the Directive Principles. The Programme of Universalisation of Elementary Education and the five-year plans has been accorded the highest priority in order to provide free education to all children up to the age of 14 years. The 86th constitutional amendment of 2002 inserted a new article, Article 21-A, into the Constitution, that seeks to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. Welfare schemes for the weaker sections are being implemented both by the Central and State governments. These include programmes such as boys’ and girls’ hostels for scheduled castes’ or scheduled tribes’ students. The year 1990-1991 was declared as the “Year of Social Justice” in the memory of B.R. Ambedkar. The government provides free textbooks to students belonging to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes pursuing medicine and engineering courses. During 2002-2003, a sum of Rs. 47.7 million was released for this purpose. In order that scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are protected from atrocities, the Government enacted the The Prevention of Atrocities Act, which provided severe punishments for such atrocities.
Several Land Reform Acts were enacted to provide ownership rights to poor farmers. Up to September 2001, more than 20,000,000 acres (80,000 km²) of land had been distributed to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and the landless poor. The thrust of banking policy in India has been to improve banking facilities in the rural areas. The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 empowers government to fix minimum wages for employees engaged in various employments. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 provides for the better protection of consumers. The act is intended to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the consumers’ grievances, award relief and compensation wherever appropriate to the consumer. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, provides for equal pay for equal work for both men and women. The Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana was launched in 2001 to attain the objective of gainful employment for the rural poor. The programme was implemented through the Panchayati Raj institutions.
Panchayati Raj now covers almost all states and Union territories. One-third of the total number of seats have been reserved for women in Panchayats at every level; in the case of Bihar, half the seats have been reserved for women. Legal aid at the expense of the State has been made compulsory in all cases pertaining to criminal law, if the accused is too poor to engage a lawyer. Judiciary has been separated from the executive in all the states and Union territories except Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland.
India’s Foreign Policy has also to some degree been influenced by the DPSPs. India has in the past condemned all acts of aggression and has also supported the United Nations’ peace-keeping activities. By 2004, the Indian Army had participated in 37 UN peace-keeping operations. India played a key role in the passing of a UN resolution in 2003, which envisaged better cooperation between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries. India has also been in favor of nuclear disarmament.
As we can see, Indian government’s actions are largely driven by these principles. Whenever government take anti-DPSP stand (as that in FDI in retail), it attracts protests from all corners of public. While some of the responsible citizens actually know why they are protesting, majority of them have been influenced by tailored opinions of self appointed knowledgeable people. In this context, it becomes necessary to understand DPSP from original sources to correctly understand the overall direction of governance in India.
Many of the DPSP have not been implemented yet and require some serious mobilization on our part to generate adequate political will. Protecting wildlife and forests is one of them. On this republic day, try to understand and think over these principles to form informed opinions on Indian governance.
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