The Indian Constitution Class 8 Civics Chapter 1
CBSE Class 8 Civics Chapter 1 The Indian Constitution – Detailed explanation of the chapter ‘The Indian Constitution’ along with question answers. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with all the exercises, Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.
Class 8 Civics – Chapter 1
The Indian Constitution
The chapter ‘Indian Constitution’ highlights the importance and need for a ‘Constitution’ for a democratic country. It also explains the crucial features of the Indian Constitution.
The Indian Constitution Class 8 Video Explanation
The Need for a Constitution
It was in 1934, when the Congress put the demand for a Constituent Assembly for India for the first time. As the Second World War (1939-45) commenced, this assertion only grew further among the Indians. Finally, the British Government agreed to it which finally convened in December 1946.
Several lawmakers came together to draft the Constitution of India between December 1946 and November 1949. It was finally on November 26, 1949 that our constitution was completed. It was implemented on January 26, 1950 which we celebrate as Republic Day today.
A majority of countries across the world identify themselves as ‘Democratic.’ Several such countries have their own ‘Constitution.’
A Constitution is crucial for any country as it serves various purposes which help in the smooth functioning of a country. Firstly, it puts forward particular ideals on whose basis as a citizen we get to know that in which type of country we wish to live in. Secondly, it also defines our society’s fundamental nature.
In a country, you may come across different communities of people with certain beliefs living together, but they may have different opinions. If that country has a constitution, it then provides a set of rules and principles. Through this, all the citizens would agree upon in what manner they want the country to be governed. It includes the government type and certain ideals which could uphold the country.
Nepal is a country which has China in its North and India in its South. In the last three decades, the Naplese citizens led several struggles for democracy. One major such struggle had taken place in 1990, after which the democracy lasted till 2002 in the country. It was of ‘Constitutional Monarchy’ type and final authority rested with the King.
Citing Maoist uprising as a reason, the then King Gyanendra took over the government’s different aspects with the help of Army. However, the people of Nepal wanted democracy. Soon, a large-scale protest erupted all over the country in 2006 which was led by the Maoists. Finally, the king bowed to the protestors and he restored the Parliament. He invited different parties to form the government. In 2008, the Nepal Parliament passed a judgment to abolish ‘Monarchy.’ Finally the country became ‘Democratic’ in true aspects.
The reason behind Nepalese citizens’ protest over the King’s rule was that they did not agree with his rule. It didn’t match with the ideals of a country that the citizens wanted to be. With an aim to usher in a new progressive society, Nepal adopted a new Constitution in 2015.
Another important purpose of the Constitution is that it defines a country’s political system. As you read in the previous example about how Nepal’s 1990 constitution allowed the King to have the last call over any matter. The countries which are democratic, the Constitution lays a set of guidelines so that the government can function in coordination with its people who elect it.
A Democracy is a setup where people choose their leaders through elections. These leaders exercise their powers while running the government. Although there are chances that the leaders could even misuse their powers, however, our Constitution has provided certain measures to deal with such leaders.
In your Class VII book you might have read about the experiences of prominent writer Om Prakash Valmiki in his school. As a Dalit student, he faced several autocracies. Our Constitution provides equal rights to all its citizens. It states that one can’t discriminate against a citizen on the basis of caste, religion, race, gender or birth place. This fundamental right is popularly known as ‘Right to Equality.’
Our Constitution also emphasizes on the fact that a dominant group cannot use its power against those who are less powerful or the weaker sections of society. It has a rule that states that minorities are entitled to everything that is available to the majority. The constitution has played a major role in preventing the exploitation of minorities by people belonging to the majority section.
At times, the Constitution plays a major role in saving us from ourselves. Although it sounds absurd, but at times there arises a situation when we feel strongly about something that could go against our interests in a larger manner. For example, suppose you have an important test the next day and India’s World Cup match is going on. Even though you have a strong urge to watch it, you choose to revise. Next day, your test goes well as compared to others because you chose to do revision instead of watching the match.
The Constitution has the capability to protect us against particular decisions which can have unfavorable effects on a large set of principles that a country complies by. At times, in a democracy, there might arise a situation when the party politics become so acrimonious that a strong dictator is needed to set it right. However, in the long run, they may not realize that the dictatorship goes against the interest of democracy. A strong Constitution like that of India doesn’t allow such issues to change the democracy’s basic structure.
The Indian Constitution: Key Features
The British ruled India for over 150 years. Several Indians sacrificed their lives and played a major role in providing independence to India. Once the country was free, there was a major challenge before our leaders regarding the setting up of a democratic government and how it would function. Around 300 experienced leaders from different fields started working on the making of the Constitution from December 1946 and it was over by November 1949.
The members of the Constituent Assembly had to face several challenges while they were working together to draft the Constitution. India is a country which is known for its diverse culture. Different communities have different cultures, follow different religions and speak different languages. Not to forget, the Partition was just announced when this process was going on. All these issues affected the process of drafting the constitution.
The key features of our Constitution are as given below:
- Federalism: It alludes the existence of more than one level of government in a democratic country. Our country has governments at both the Centre and State level. Panchayati Raj is considered as a third tier of the Government that governs the villages of our country. Our constitution provides a list of details regarding the powers of each level of government. It also specifies how the governments as each level should work by coordinating with each other.
- Parliamentary Form of Government: During elections, the citizens of India elect the government at different levels. All citizens have been given ‘Universal Adult Franchise.’ It means that we, as Indian citizens have a direct role in electing the government at different levels. Irrespective of this background, every citizen is entitled to vote or even contest the elections.
- Separation of Powers: Our Constitution states that there are three organs of the Indian government. They are Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. Our elected representatives form the ‘Legislative’ type. A group of people who are assigned the task of running the government and implementing the laws form the ‘Executive’ type. The system of courts comes under the ‘Judiciary’ type.
The Constitution states that in order to prevent the misuse of power at any level of government, these three types should exercise their powers differently. Due to this, each type acts as a check on the other two.
- Fundamental Rights: This section has been referred as the ‘conscience’ of Indian Constitution. These rights are such that they protect against the misuse of power if a common Indian citizen exercises it accordingly. It protects them against the absolute and arbitrary power exercised by the States. It guarantees an individual’s right against other individuals or sometimes even the State.
The six fundamental rights of Indian citizens are:
i) Right to Equality: Before the law, every person is equal. All the people are equally protected by the Indian Law. They can’t be discriminated on the basis of their respective caste, sex or religion. They can access public places equally and would get equal opportunity of employment. It strictly condemns the practise of ‘Untouchability.’ii) Right to Freedom: It includes the right to freedom of expression and speech, the right to live in any region of India, right to move freely, right to form association and right to practise any profession or business.
iii) Right against Exploitation: According to the Constitution, it is illegal to employ children who are less than 14 years in age, forced labour or trafficking of humans.
- iv) Right to Freedom of Religion: All the citizens have been granted religious freedom. They are free to practise, propagate and profess any religion of their choice.
- v) Educational and Cultural Rights: Our constitution states that all the religious, linguistic or minorities have the right to set up educational institutes as they want to develop and preserve their respective cultures.
- vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies: According to this rule, a citizen has the right to move to a Court if she believes that a particular state has violated her rights.
5) Secularism: In a secular state, a single religion is never promoted as the State religion. Our country is neutral in the matter of religion. Every citizen if free to follow their own faith.
India became a secular state in 1976 with 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India. With this, India doesn’t have any official state religion. The laws of the country work in several ways to prevent religious domination.
Question and Answers
- Why does a democracy need a Constitution?
Ans. A Democracy needs a Constitution due to the following reasons:
i) A Constitution helps serve as a set of rules and principles that all persons in a country can agree upon as the basis of the way in which they want the country to be governed.ii) The Constitution reflects the ideas on whose basis the citizens of the country want the country to function.
iii) It defines the nature of a country’s political system.
iv) In a democracy, it plays an important rule to ensure that a dominant group does not use
its power against other, less powerful people or groups.
v) A Constitution helps to protect us against certain decisions that we might take that could have an adverse effect on the larger principles that the country believes in.
- Look at the wordings of the two documents given below. The first column is from the 1990 Nepal Constitution. The second column is from the more recent Constitution of Nepal.
1990 Constitution of Nepal
Part 7 Executive
2015 Constitution of Nepal
Part 7 Executive
Article 35: Executive Power: The executive power of the Kingdom of Nepal shall be vested in His Majesty and the Council of Ministers.
Article 75: Executive Power: The executive power of Nepal shall, pursuant to this Constitution and law, be vested in the Council of Ministers.
What is the difference in who exercises ‘Executive Power’ in the above two Constitutions of Nepal?
Ans. According to the 1990 Constitution, Nepal was a Constitutional Monarchy. The final authority regarding any authority rested with the King. Before passing a law, the Council of Ministers discussed it among themselves first and then passed it to the King who would take a final decision regarding the law.
According to the 2015 Constitution, Nepal became a full-fledged democracy. Now the Council of Ministers has the power to take any Executive Decision.
- What would happen if there were no restrictions on the power of elected representatives?
Ans. If such as case arises, the elected representatives would start misusing their respective powers. They would become corrupt and would not take decisions favorable for the citizens. Our Constitution lays down several rules that guards the common citizens against the misuse of powers.
- In each of the following situations, identify the minority. Write one reason why you think it is
important to respect the views of the minority in each of these situations.
(a) In a school with 30 teachers, 20 of them are male.
Ans. The remaining 10 female teachers are in the minority. The male teachers should respect the views of female teachers since even their advice would benefit the students of the school.
(b) In a city, 5 percent of the population are Buddhists.
Ans. The Buddhists are a minority here. They should be allowed to follow their religion and culture without any restriction.
(c) In a factory mess for all employees, 80 percent are vegetarians.
Ans. The non-vegetarians are a minority here. Every person has freedom regarding what he wants to eat. No one should be discriminated on the basis of his food habits.
(d) In a class of 50 students, 40 belong to more well-off families.
Ans. The under-priviledged students are a minority here. They should not be discriminated against others on the basis of their class.
- The column on the left lists some of the key features of the Indian Constitution. In the
other column write two sentences, in your own words, on why you think this feature
- Separation of Powers
- Fundamental Rights
- Parliamentary Form of government
(a) Federalism: It means that there are more than one level of government in a country. In India, apart from the Centre and State government, we have Panchayati Raj System as well. Since India has a diverse religious background, so Federalism is an important requirement.
(b) Separation of Powers: The Constitution stresses on this feature to ensure that there is no misuse of power by the elected representatives at different levels. The power of each level is fixed. It maintains a balance between the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary level of government.
(c) Fundamental Rights: It guarantees the basic rights of individuals against a State or other individual. It protects the rights of minorities against those who are in the majority.
(d) Parliamentary Form of government: It guarantees the ‘Universal Adult Franchise’ for all Indian citizens. Irrespective of his caste, religion or class, a citizen has the right to vote.
- Write down the names of the Indian States, which share borders with the following
- Bangladesh: West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya
- Bhutan: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal
- Nepal: Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Sikkim, West Bengal