The 20th commemoration of late Bakeer Markar on 8 August was a remarkable event in many ways. The presentation of the guest speaker Prof. Davutoglu was interesting, as he explained the emergence and development of human identities without following the western theories on nationalities. Apparently, Turkey is a country of different human groups up to modern times.
This history was certainly interesting. However, more attractive was the speech made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Not because of reference to me, in the middle of his elaborations! Instead, he came out with a rational modernist view on the national problem. India came out of retrogressive traditions to formulate a Constitution that could accommodate dozens of nationalities, many religions and beliefs almost irreconcilable. It was a huge venture. Jawaharlal Nehru was supported by intellectuals such as Ambedkar and Periar. While such a victory is achieved in India, Russia fell back by the socialism in one country theory which is against Marxist internationalism.
The Constitution, the supreme law of India, lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, principles and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world.
B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, supported by Periar, is widely considered to be its chief architect. It imparts Constitutional supremacy and not Parliamentary supremacy, as it is created by a Constituent Assembly, and adopted by its people, with a declaration in its preamble. Parliament cannot override the Constitution. It declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them. The Supreme Court has ruled that it cannot destroy what it seeks to modify, which means, while amending anything in the Constitution it cannot tinker with the ‘basic structure’ or its framework, which is immutable. Such an amendment will be declared invalid even though no part of the Constitution is explicitly prevented from being amended, nor does the basic structure doctrine protect any single provision of the Constitution. Yet, this “doctrine of basic features” lays down that, the Constitution when “read as a whole”, that what comes to be understood as its basic features cannot be abridged, deleted or abrogated. These “basic features” are defined as:
The Supremacy of the Constitution; Republican and Democratic form of the Government; Secular Character of the Constitution;
Maintenance of Separation of powers ;The Federal Character of the Constitution.This implies that the Parliament, while amending the Constitution, can only amend it to the extent so as to not destroy any of the aforesaid characters.
Are we going to march forward with a Constitution with similar aims and objectives? The speech of Ranil was very positive and clear. If that is the view of the government then we can be hopeful.
Already the Movement based on all organizations that brought this government to power is preparing for a SATYAGRAHA on 15 August opposite Viharamahadevi Park at 3 p.m.to press the government to go forward to implement the programme promised during the last Presidential Election. Also, it is a mobilization against the racist and chauvinist forces who are preparing to overthrow the government by violence and terror.
Such opposition is basically opposed to a new democratic Constitution, as they alleged it is against the rights of the Sinhala majority. They try to mobilize the Sinhala village youth on this sectarian majoritist theory.
For this, they have created a bogey of privatization of education. They oppose the general freedom now exists for private universities to operate under the supervision of the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education.