Remarks by High Commissioner at Inauguration of Conference on...

Remarks by High Commissioner at Inauguration of Conference on ‘Constitutional Development in South Asia’ [May 5, 2016]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to be with all of you this morning at this Conference on Constitutional Development in South Asia organized by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency [PILDAT].  At the outset, let me thank PILDAT for their kind invitation to this very topical and timely discussion.

2. As far as India is concerned, many legal experts worked on developing the Indian Constitution between 1947 and 1949. As a result of their labour, the Constitution of India became operational on 26 January 1950. Dr. B R Ambedkar, whose 125th birth anniversary we celebrated a few days ago on April 14 is, very correctly, considered the architect of India’s Constitution. His tremendous service to our nation is acknowledged by all of us in India.

3. The Indian Constitution draws heavily on Constitutions in several other countries but also has its very own specialties and characteristics. Thus, while there is a chapter on the Fundamental Rights of every citizen of India, we later also added a section on the Fundamental Duties of every national of the country. The idea behind this was to drive home the point that citizens should not merely expect rights from the State but should realize that they have duties towards the Nation. This is a novel idea not found in too many other Constitutions. The Directive Principles of State Policy a very special feature of India’s Constitution, were and continue to be, goals which the State hopes to achieve as we move forward with nation building, economic development and social progress.

4. Another special characteristic of the Indian Constitution is the clear demarcation of functions and powers between the central or federal government and the state or provincial governments. Hence, we have a Central List, a State List and a Concurrent List of governmental functions. Since the promulgation of the Constitution of India, there has been a further devolution of powers including financial powers, from the federal level to the state or provincial level. This has served the goal of economic progress very well indeed.

5. Friends, you will hear a lot more on India’s Constitution from the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of the West Bengal University of Juridical Sciences Professor Dr. Bhat. Therefore, I will only go so far as to state that the flexibility provided in India’s Constitution has enabled us to amend it over time so as to be able to reflect the common will and aspirations of our people. The Constitution has and continues to serve India well.

6. In conclusion, let me say that I am confident that all of us will learn a lot from today’s conference. I am sure your discussions will be fruitful. I convey my best wishes for the success of the Conference on Constitutional Development in South Asia.
Thank you

May 5, 2016


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