dominion-to-republic

 

India celebrated its 67th republic day on January 26, commemorating the adoption of its constitution in 1950. I have a point to make here. On the eve of Republic day, I am glad to see the patriotic Indians share the pride of Indian nation on their social networking profiles, but how many of them exactly know the difference between Republic day and Independence day celebrated on August 15. I am not questioning their patriotic credentials but at the same time most of them share their social media posts as a regular social networking custom.

                                Then coming to actual discussion, our constitution established, parliamentary form of government with president as a nominal head of the government. United Kingdom is a typical example for constitutional monarchy, where queen is the nominal head of the government. Canada and Australia still are ruled by the Queen of England today, though they are independent nations. Two former British colonies Malaysia and UAE, which got independence from British, adopted constitutional monarchy. Malaysia contains nine hereditary states, the rulers of which elect the  Yang diPertuan Agong (king), of Malaysia from among themselves for a five year term. Likewise, the president of the United Arab Emirates is elected from among one of the seven hereditary emirs of the constituent emirates.

 Sardar Vallabhai Patel had strived for a unified India, consolidating 565 princely states into the union of India. Some of the princely states like Hyderabad, Jaislamer, Bhopal are very big compared to European states. Patel and VP Menon worked indefatigably to bring all these princely states into the umbrella of republic India. It is the greatness of Patel and VP menon to enter into shrewd negotiations with princely sates, with rational offers like privy purses, and to retain their palaces and princely titles, but actually real power transferred into the hands of people and they were supposed to be princes only on paper.

Unlike 1970s western journalists, I have no doubt about the triumph and applicability of Democracy to India. But, If India adopted similar constitutional methods like that of United Kingdom or Malaysia, India would became a Pseudo democracy with constitutional head elected among the 565 princely states by themselves, but still the figure head would be nominal abiding to parliament. At the same time, there may be chances of India ending with wholesome monarchy because 42nd constitutional amendment converted the president into real ceremonial head. According to that amendment, president shall, in exercise his functions, in accordance with the advice rendered by the council of ministers. If India became a constitutional monarchy similar to United Kingdom, May be India does not have seen development of personality cults and dynastic politics around Nehru-Gandhi and there may be chance of more institutionalization of political parties and various organs of the executive. In United Kingdom, the actual parliamentarians and heads of government are more humble, since they themselves are not the object of praise and worship because that adulation is directed towards queen. Contrast to that Indian politicians behave as supreme beings, resulting to development of person based politics rather than the institution based political system. It finally adultered the ethos of democracy and take India to the brim of dictatorship during the times of emergency in 1975, which is mainly an outcome of increased personality clout of IndiraGandhi.

Although it is impossible now to imagine India as a constitutional monarchy, but if India adopted that type of constitution system it may or may not have contributed to political development of India, which is a debatable issue.