In another fortnight of so, newspapers and magazines will start debating the relevance of Republic Day celebrations, especially the expenditure the State incurs on the parade in the capital. Intellectuals, journalists and civil society members will delve on what India has achieved being a republic.
While most of the celebrations reinforce the solidarity of the republic with a show of power and promote the diversity of the nation through a plethora of folk dances and other cultural activities, there is little thought about Republic Day primarily being a celebration of India adopting its Constitution. For the common citizen, it is nothing but the parade and a national holiday. How about bringing the constitutional element into the celebrations?
Schools and educational institutions could invite a local judge, a Member of Parliament, a member of the legislative assembly and a local official of the district administration as representatives of the three pillars of the republic, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive respectively. The three could sit on panels and appraise students about the basic three-pillar structure. There could be a discussion on the relationship between the three pillars and numerous ideas could come out for people to think on. The media, as the 'fourth pillar', could play a role by spreading these discussions among the three.
Schools could invite classes to create its own Constitution. Just like the Constitution elaborates on who would be the head of the republic, how she would be chosen, what her roles and responsibilities would be, the same can be done by 30-odd students in each class. They could focus on their head (read: monitor) and her roles and responsibilities, and deliberate on the rights and duties of 'class citizens'. The entire process of coming up with such a document could create a sense of appreciation for the Constitution among people, especially the young.
India is not just a republic; it's a democratic republic. So, in the run-up to January 26, schools could conduct elections to the 'posts' of class monitor, house captains and school captains to celebrate their 'democracy'. People, including teachers, who have conducted election duties could share their experiences of polling, counting and other features of voting. I don't know whether all this will lead to anything concrete about learning about our Constitution or Republic, but it will certainly put the Constitution firmly in the context of Republic Day.
Shankar Musafir is a Delhi-based educationist. The views expressed by the author are personal.