ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Representation and Its Epiphanies

The focus in this paper is on the Constituent Assembly debates on the nature of electoral mechanisms that would ideally translate people's will into governmental decisions. What assumptions did these debates make about the meaning of representation? Members of the Constituent Assembly were concerned especially with issues of representation given the accusation that the Assembly was an unrepresentative body, elected as it was on an extremely limited franchise.

Rights versus Representation

In the name of democracy, the constituent assembly of India adopted certain specific individual and collective rights to religion. Democracy, however, is not just about rights; another integral component of democracy is representation. This essay argues that the granting of a range of individual and collective religious rights to the minorities was used, in the constituent assembly, to justify the refusal of their demand for more adequate mechanisms of representation, for instance, for proportional representation or for reserved seats in the legislatures.

Secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, 1946-1950

Secularism, it has been argued, failed to stem the spread of communalism in India, because its marginalising and contempt of religion bred a backlash on which communalism thrived. This article contends that this 'contempt for religion' was marginalised in the course of the secularism debates in the Constituent Assembly. The dominant position on secularism that a 'democratic' Constitution find place for religion as a way of life for most Indians triumphed over those who wished for the Assembly to grant only a narrow right to religious freedom, or to make the uniform civil code a fundamental right. These early discussions on religious freedom also highlight a paradox - it is precisely some of the advocates of a broad right to religious freedom who were also the most vociferous opponents of any political rights for religious minorities.
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