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

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The Republic of Reasons

Discourse within a constitutional framework alone can be the foundation for a possible solidarity in societies which are vibrant with real diversities and differences.

The intellectual and moral foundations of our republic seem insecure from time to timefor reasons both trivial and, alas, grave. The trivial threat is exemplified, for meby the advertisers fascination with the princeling culture of yesteryear. The bewhiskered twits who figure in the advertisements that wish to signal gracious, old-world aristocracyand look for all the world like the grand durbaans in five-star hotelsare an anomaly in a democratic republic. But there are unfortunately more serious reasons to make one wonder about the depth of our republican culture.

At its simplest, a republic is a freely constituted community of equals. This is distinguished from communities that make archaic and often fanciful claims for their existence, involving both hierarchy and even, God help us, God. But a republic is a voluntary, freely constituted community of equalsand the necessary foundation of this freely constituted community is, naturally, the Constitutionwhich has even been endorsed as our only sacred book by the Honble Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This coming together of diverse peoples is not a natural or easy processas will be evident from the laborious wranglings in our own Constituent Assembly. The Constitution is a heroic achievement, and it is only appropriate that the people who are associated with its makingnotably, B R Ambedkarare honoured by a grateful nation. By the same token, the repeatedly signalled desire of certain political elements to open up the Constitution to fundamental reconsideration isand should be recognised to bean attempt to tamper with the very foundations of our republic. Mercifully, good sense has prevailedso far. But my primary concern here is with another threat that, while it is not quite foundational, is still extremely serious.

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