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Source: Indian Express

  • Prelims: Supreme Court, Article 1, Preamble, Article 25, 26 and Article 14, FDs etc
  • Mains GS Paper I and II: Structure, organization and functioning of judiciary, role of judiciary in furnishing FRs etc



  • Speaking in Britain, a Congress MP described India as a “union of states”.
    • In a parliamentary speech last year, he had deployed a similar characterisation.

current affairs



Article 1:

  • India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
  • India’s territory consists of the following:
    • State territories
    • The territories of the Union listed in the First Schedule; and
    • Any additional territories that may be acquired.


  • A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives.
  • In a Constitution, it presents the intention of its framers, the history behind its creation, and the core values and principles of the nation.
  • The preamble basically gives idea of the following things/objects:
    • Source of the Constitution
    • Nature of Indian State
    • Statement of its objectives
    • Date of its adoption


Critics against Congress MP’s stand about nation:

  • They refer to the Constitution’s Preamble
  • Four key objectives of the new polity justice, liberty, equality and fraternity
  • Fraternity” means “assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation”.


Concept of Nation:

  • A nation is not simply a cultural entity.
  • Togetherness: It brings the political and cultural units together.
  • Ernest Gellner: nation means having “a political roof over your cultural head”.
  • A civilisation, a cultural unit is a sovereign confluence of the cultural and the political.
    • Example: Europe is a civilisational entity: It had more than 20 nations in the early 20th century
      • Many of these nations were so bitterly antagonistic that they even fought wars, including two World Wars.
    • England/Britain and France fought no less than seven wars between 1689 and 1815, even though both were part of Europe.
  • Indian nationhood by John Strachey(British administrator in India, in 1888). “There is not, and never was an India, or any country of India”, and “that men of Punjab, Bengal, the Northwestern Provinces and Madras, should ever feel that they belong to one Indian nation, is impossible.
    • India was a civilisation, from which in the future might emerge several nations — Punjab, Bengal, Madras — if and when the British actually left.
  • After Independence, Indian federalism was indeed conceptualized in linguistic terms.


Gandhi’s position on religion and nationhood:

  • On religion, Gandhi argued: “If the Hindus believe that India should be populated only by Hindus, they are living in a dreamland.
  • The Hindus, Muslims, the Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow countrymen, Followers of different faiths are not different nations”.


On language:

  • Gandhi was the father of India’s linguistic federalism.
  • In 1920’s: Gandhi successfully campaigned for linguistically structured provincial organizations of the Congress party.
  • He was more interested in eliciting mass support for the freedom movement.
  • In 1924: Gandhi got this idea extended to the governmental level.
    • The official language or provincial governments, legislatures and courts (should) be the vernacular of the province.”
  • Gandhi, multilingual politics was essential to nation-building in India, not a violation thereof.
  • Gandhi was anti-Mill and anti-Strachey: A new kind of nation, non-European in substance and spirit, was to be constructed.
    • Not only be multi-religious (which was not a fundamental problem for the European theorists and practitioners), but also multi-lingual, which was a novel idea.
  • Gandhi In his newspaper Young India(1970): Indian culture “stands for synthesis of the different cultures that have come to stay in India, that have influenced Indian life, and that, in their turn, have themselves been influenced by the spirit of the soil”
  • Indian culture is “neither Hindu, Islamic nor any other, wholly(April 1931): It is a fusion of all and essentially Eastern.
    • Everyone who calls himself or herself an Indian is bound to treasure that culture, be its trustee and resist any attack upon it”.


Way Forward

  • For Gandhi, that glue was not language (or religion), but a set of cultural and historical ideas — synthesis, tolerance and coexistence.
    • The violent periods of Indian history were outliers from this trend line of coexistence.
  • Congress MP(Rahul Gandhi) is not wrong that India is a union of states, his formulation requires a Gandhian amendment.
  • India is also a nation, but in a non-European sense.


The spirit of tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate.(UPSC 2017) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)