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Opening remarks by Ambassador R.Masakui at the event in Parliament on 27th February 2020.

Theme:- Constitutionalism, the cornerstone of good governance: The Indian Experience

Hon’ble Advocate Jacob FrancisMudenda,Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Zimbabwe

Hon’ble Members of Parliament
Excellences, my friend Ambassadors
Justice Ibrahim

Ladies and Gentlemen

At the very outset I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Hon’ble Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Speaker of National Assembly, the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe for making it possible for this event to happen today. I called on him about a month ago and requested him to have an event around constitutionalism as India celebrates 70th anniversary of its constitution. He happily agreed. Indian Missions across the world are organising such events with their respective host governments to celebrate this important event together.

After India got independence on 15th August 1947, it took our constituent assembly more than two years to frame our own constitution. It was adopted on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950.

The Constitution of India begins with “We the people…. and ends with ‘’gave to ourselves this Constitution”. It reads and I quote,

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

In Our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do Hereby Adopt, Enact And Give To Ourselves This Constitution.

The core value enshrined in India’s constitution is, therefore, one that upholds the supremacy of the people of India. The Indian constitution incorporates in it the centuries old values and ethos of the society of India which include, among others pluralism, tolerance, dialogue, rule of law, mutual respect for each other, while on the other embraces the essential elements of the democratic concepts of the modern times. It is this wisdom of our constitution fathers to synthesize these two core values that have made Indian constitution withstand the test of times through the last seven decades and gives birth to a nation where the minds of its people are without fear.

India today has 2599 registered political parties (with 8 national parties, 53 state parties and 2538 un-recognized parties), 100,000 registered newspapers, 902 TV channels, 1652 languages. They are, indeed, signs of our flourishing democracy. The unfaltering young democracy of India has demonstrated to the world that people can be governed with freedom. That it is possible to achieve inclusive economic growth without sacrificing democracy and diversity, without compromising the values of pluralism, dialogue and tolerance which are the core values of our society.

And we are celebrating the constitution that accommodates these values. Inclusiveness entails huge responsibility and challenge. But over all these years, this has emerged as our strength and not weakness. This is a celebration of unity in diversity. With more than 100 amendments in the last 70 years, Indian Constitution is a growing constitution, a learning constitution that accommodates the aspiration of the people of India as demanded by changing times of the modern world. The architect of our constitution, Dr. B R Ambedkar had said; “Constitution is not a mere lawyer’s document, it is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always a spirit of age”. This spirit has kept all organs of government vibrant and alive today in India.

The fathers of our constitution incorporated in Indian constitution the best elements of other constitutions. They include several provisions of the government of India Act of 1935, Parliamentary democracy and Cabinet system from British, Directive Principle of State Policy from Ireland, Preamble, Written constitution & Supreme Court  from The United States of America, Procedure of amendment from SA, Federation with strong centre from Canada, the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in the preamble from France, Concurrent list from Australia, Fundamental duties and the ideals of justice (Economic, social and political in the preamble) from Russia, suspension of fundamental rights during emergency from Germany, Concept of procedure established by law from Japan.

Today, as constitutionalism has become as important an issue as that of good governance, especially in young democracies, Government of India has given an undivided attention to ensuring that our government is not a mere government with a constitution but a government established according to a constitution, a government which acts according to the constitution, a government in which the Constitution is the doctrine that governs the legitimacy of its own action. Its essence, like water, flows to the lowest point and touches the lives of the commonest people. When India got independence in 1947, 59 % of our population was living below poverty line. Today, with the efforts of government after government, it has been reduced to 19%. While the fight is far from over, efforts to achieve the ideals provisioned in our constitution have yielded fruits. And GOI is determined to continue these efforts till all tears from the eyes of its people, especially of those in the lowest strata of our society are wiped away. 

If the test for constitutionalism include upholding of popular sovereignty, Separation of Powers (checks and balances), Responsible and accountable government, Rule of law, An independent judiciary, Respect for individual rights, Civilian control of the military, Police governed by law and judicial control, India has made strides on all these parameters over the last seven decades. Our unfaltering democracy is just not merely holding of regular elections but elections that oust the politicians and political parties which do not respect the mandate of the people. It is a system where there is healthy check and balance among the organs of Government.  Judicial activism has been a buzz word in the recent timesin India. There have also been some Land mark judgements by Supreme Court of India which have been subject of global discussion. 

As we celebrate this important event of India, I am fully aware of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe of 2013 that has been gifted to the People of Zimbabwe, the Constitution that begins with “We the people of Zimbabwe”. The constitution that stipulates the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law, fostering fundamental rights and freedom, recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of each human being, free, fair and regular elections and it goes on and on; They are the lifeline document of the Republic of Zimbabwe, a document that maps out the present and future of your great nation. And I invite all of us, Hon’’ble Speaker, Hon’ble members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen to celebrate these Bibles of our friendly nations. Celebrate them by following because they are good and useful only when followed. Or else they are just a bunch of papers.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank our Indian corporates who have sponsored the dinner and drinks for this event- Rio Zim, Zim Gold and Varun Beverages. Thank you for consistently supporting us. I would also like to present two copies of Constitutional Law of India and 10 copies of ‘My Experiment with Truth’ an autobiography of Mahatma Gandhifor Parliament Library (as we celebrate his 150 birth Anniversary).

The programme to follow is a short documentary called MookNayak on the role of Dr. BR Ambedkar, the architect of our constitution, in the framing of our constitution, the debates and deliberations and his strong conviction and fight to protect the marginalised, minority, downtrodden and women as he himself was from  a lower and  minority community. Please enjoy the film. 

I thank you.

 
 
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