A Timely Exploration of India’s Constitutional Journey
Adnan Farooqui
OUR CONSTITUTION, OUR PEOPLE by By Harsh Mander. Illustrations by Priya Kurian Pratham Books, 2022, 49 pp.,
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

Our Constitution, Our People by Harsh Mander is a timely and insightful introduction to the Indian Constitution, designed specifically for the young. The book successfully distils the essence of the Indian Constitution, making it easily accessible without being pedantic. Complemented by vibrant illustrations by Priya Kurian, the book offers a vivid impression for young readers, although the distracting doodles scattered throughout the book could be perceived as a minor flaw.
The book commences by contextualizing India’s constitutional journey within the broader framework of anti-colonial struggles worldwide. It eloquently introduces young readers to critical concepts such as empire, colonialism, and imperialism, highlighting how the drafting of the Constitution for a free India aimed to underscore the universal importance of values like equality, liberty, justice, and fraternity, which were fiercely fought for by Indians and other colonized countries in the Global South.
One notable aspect of the book is its emphasis on the relatively peaceful nature of India’s struggle for Independence, largely under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. The narrative underscores the majority’s belief that an Independent India would celebrate its diversity and transform it into strength. The book lauds the founding fathers for embracing both democratic and republican ideals, a testament to their visionary approach during the national movement.
Mander’s book does not shy away from addressing crucial issues such as caste-based discrimination, the horrors of Partition, and extreme economic inequality. It adeptly conveys the gravity of the challenges faced during Independence and how the leaders of the national movement navigated through these tumultuous times, culminating in a Constitution that sought a clean break from the past and aspired to realize the cherished ideals of the Independence movement.
The author thoughtfully presents the essential features of the Indian Constitution, focusing rightly on the Preamble. Through a meticulous exploration, Mander prompts readers to contemplate the complexity of the challenges faced by the founding fathers during the drafting of the Constitution. Moreover, the book sheds light on the sensitivity and pragmatism that shaped the Constitution, which officially came into force on January 26, 1950.
In conclusion, Our Constitution, Our People is an important and essential read for children and adults alike. It offers a compelling exploration of India’s constitutional journey, encapsulating the struggles, aspirations, and visionary ideals that continue to shape the nation’s trajectory. Mander’s approach in presenting this vital subject matter in an engaging and accessible manner makes this book a valuable educational resource.