DSS celebrated Republic Day on 26th January 2023 at Guntur. The conference was conducted on the theme: “Promote Constitutional Values and Strengthen Democracy”. During the last two decades, there is decline of constitutional values in governance by all governments of the States and Centre and the assaults on human rights is increasing. In addition to raise of authoritarian tendencies, political corruption also is on the rise. In this context, DSS has chosen this topic and invited eminent personalities to share their views and educate the people in general and dalit women in particular, of the necessity to protect, preserve and promote constitutional values and strengthen democracy. The venue of the conference was Seminar Hall of A.C. College of Law, Guntur.
The meeting was chaired by Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS. Other speakers on the occasion were: Sri. Ramgopal, 4th Additional District Judge, Guntur, Smt. Udaya Lakshmi, IAS, Retired, Chairperson, A.P. Police Complaints Committee, Sri. Rajeswara Rao, I.R.S., Central G.S.T & Customs, Prof. A. Subrahmanyam, Retd. Professor of Law, Dr. Sayyed Babu, Senior Advocate, Dr. Farhad, Professor of English, K.L. University, Dr. Sri Gauri, Asst. Professor of Law, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Sri. Rajani Kanth, Sneha Group, Sri. Dokka Manikya Varaprasad, M.L.C. and Sri. Elisha, Correspondent, A.C. College of Law.
The meeting was attended by dalit women, leaders of women collectives, students and general public. Ms. Jhansi Geddam introduced about the context of the topic and the need to reinforce the constitutional values as visualized by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. She pointed out how democratic values and constitutionalism is being ignored in various State institutions. She stressed the need for every dalit woman to be aware of what is happening in the governance and about what is envisaged in the constitution. Without knowledge of constitutional and democratic values the women can’t move forward to protect their rights. She explained that the present political parties have reduced the essence of democracy to the single aspect of conducting elections every 5 years. These parties are implementing various techniques and resorting to all methods to lure the voters and win elections. Once elected, they are governing as per the personal whims and fancies of the individual who is heading the government. Unknowingly, the people are being conditioned that this is what all democracy means. Everyone should understand democracy in its broader sense of governance in accordance with rule of law, constitutional and financial accountability and respect for human rights of all citizens. She said that it is with this objective in mind that DSS is conducting the conference to educate the people about the true essence of democracy and constitutional values in governance.
Smt. Uday Lakshmi, IAS Retd., appreciated the theme of the seminar. She said that constitution has all the necessary provisions for a perfect governance and everything will be alright if the constitution is implemented properly. Constitution has laid down clearly the powers, function and limitation of all institutions. If any institution crosses its limits, there is judiciary to immediately correct such a violation. It is important for each one of us to know the essence of constitution.
Sri. Dokka Manikya Varaprasad, said that the people at the helm of affairs should shoulder the responsibility of strengthening the democratic values and educate the people. He cautioned the leaders that power is not permanent. Republic Day is an opportune occasion to evaluate whether the governance is being carried on in accordance with the constitution. He called upon the people to play active role in preserving and promoting the constitutional values.
Sri. Rajeswara Rao, narrated in detail about the importance of the constitution and how it was framed by the Constituent Assembly. He said that our constitution is the biggest written document in the world and it took 2 years 11 months and 11 days for drafting it by eminent personalities of the Constituent Assembly. The leaders of those days placed the onerous responsibility of framing the constitution on the shoulders of Dr.B.R. Ambedkar. India is a big sub-continent with varied religions, thousands of sub-castes and castes and people speaking various languages. One has to take into account all these multifarious cultures and castes into consideration while framing the constitution, which is a herculean task. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar could discharge this responsibility in a superb way acceptable to all. We all should be thankful to him. Most of us usually say that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is representative of dalits, but it is not correct to describe him in such a narrow way. He is actually representative all the people, particularly women. He was very particular in conferring equality for all women and he did all his best to eradicate the oppression on women. Later, he drafted Hindu Code Bill and vehemently argued for its implementation, even though a number of other members opposed it. Thus, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stood for equality of women and social justice for all. He is not just intellectual but a symbol of character and sacrifice. Ambedkar stressed on the importance of social justice, education, equality. In the drafting committee when other members could not work due illness, death etc, he singlehandedly discharged the responsibility of drafting the constitution at the cost of his health. Further, Rajeswara Rao cautioned the people to realise the value of vote and exercise the right carefully and choose only a person of character in the elections.
Sri. Ramgopal, District Judge, first conveyed Republic Day wishes to the participants. He commenced his speech with a joke conveying the idea that human beings have turned selfish. He described the awful situation of a large number of people who are living without minimum needs. There is large scale illiteracy and more than 30 percent of the people are living below poverty line. Many farmers are unable to eke out livelihood and are committing suicides. While such a large number of populations are leading miserable lives, a small section of people has become super rich and are controlling politics to save their money. Thus, one can see a big divide between rich and poor. What the constitution says about the gap between rich and poor. We achieved constitution after freedom struggle by great freedom fighters and these great thinkers under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar drafted the constitution to abolish these inequalities. Constitution proclaimed equality and social justice in all aspects. Unfortunately, many people including the educated do not know about the constitution or its important provisions. Preamble of the constitution presents the chief objectives of the constitution. Preamble highlights socialism i.e., distribution of wealth among all people. Preamble assures democratic form of governance and secularism. Further, the preamble ordains political, social and economic justice to all citizens. He quoted the supreme court which said that the constitution is not a pedantic document but assures all aspects of justice and prohibits all forms of discrimination. He pointed out the provisions prohibiting concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Despite these provisions, why the gulf between the rich and poor is widening? Everything is there in the constitution and all the ills of the society can be remedied if the constitution is implemented in its full essence and spirit. He stressed the need to spread awareness of the constitution among the people in a big way. Only when the people are made aware of the constitutional principles that they can evaluate the governance and elect people who will implement the constitution. He advised everyone to do their bit to the society. Intellectuals like doctors and lawyers owe a lot to the society and they should repay the society by contributing their little bit to the society. He stressed the need for education and called upon everyone to get educate.
Sri. Elisha, Correspondent, AC College of Law, said that as an advocate of the High Court he is aware of the thousands of violations of constitution that come to the court. Such is the largescale violations taking place, particularly of fundamental rights. He appreciated DSS for conducting this meeting on these important aspects. He said everyone should be made aware of the basic provisions of the constitution and advised to bring out a booklet about minimum provisions of the constitution. He invited DSS to conduct a seminar on constitution in AC College of Law and assured all cooperation.
Dr. Farhad, KL University, asked everyone to think why India is still a developing country and not a
developed nation even after 75 years of independence. Commenting the present status of youth and college going students, she said everyone is using smart phone but they are not aware of the basics of the constitution. In the colleges also it is not included as a full subject. She felt there is need for everyone to know about the constitution and said that then only we can transform into a developed nation.
Dr. Sayyed Babu, Senior Advocate, High Court, said ours is a biggest democratic country as per the
constitution, but questioned whether it is actually existing in reality. He pointed out that in reality there is lot of discrimination in all spheres of life, like common usage of water, temple entry, participation in politics etc. Many people are still unable to live among the people and are constrained to live in segregated colonies at the outskirts of the village. Democracy is existing only in speeches at meeting but we are only ruled only by political parties as per their whims and fancies. These political parties are segregating us on religious, caste lines. We are unable to question their domination and divisive politics due to fear. These political leaders are looting banks, public property and liquor trade and contracts, but we are unable to question them. Education is being given a back seat and since, 40 years there is no recruitment in the universities. He cited the example of Ms. Chaitanya, daughter of Pingali Venkaiah, who used to go too far off places and study the real situation of people and write letter about it. He called upon the intellectuals, NGOs, students to organise and launch struggles for real democracy and it is our responsibility to spread awareness. All this can be done only through education.
Ms. Sri Gauri, Law Department, ANU, appreciated all the speakers on the stage. She appreciated
DSS for conducting this meeting and appealed to all to take up such a responsibility. She said it is necessary for all of us to implement the constitutional values as constitution enshrines human rights. She said India has its value in the world because of its constitution. We should be aware of our duties.
Sri. Rajani Kanth, Sneha Club, conveyed his Republic Day wishes to the gathering and appreciated
DSS for consistent work for the empowerment of women. Unfortunately, everyone is not coming forward to support struggles for rights. Many of us are depending on others to fight for our rights without participating and supporting them. Dr. Ambedkar took all pains to draft the constitution to safeguard democracy and rule of law. He stressed the need for economic empowerment and re-distribution of wealth for achieving equality. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar suffered discrimination and had full understanding of the inequalities of caste system and with that understanding he drafted the constitution with detailed provisions of equality to eradicate caste discrimination. He pointed out the need to transform Hindu religion to achieve equality.