Directive Principles in Indian Constitution-Relevance in Contemporary India
Constitution makers called Directive Principles as the “Governing Principles” for the government.
Basically Directive Principles of State Policy are the roadmap of development and are very much relevant in today’s polity. In this era of liberalization, privatization and globalization these directives remind the government of its duties as a welfare state towards the poorest people and the weaker sections of society. It includes Gandhian thoughts of Gram Swaraj, banning liquor and cow slaughter, increasing better cattle breeds and Panchayati Raj. Further Liberal Social ideas of equality of wages for equal work, end of exploitation, compulsory primary education, etc are also included. Also many other informal directives regarding promotion of Hindi as a connecting language, etc give it a diverse range of objectives.
Today India is facing challenges of poverty, inequality, disease, and illiteracy which are firmly addressed in the principles. These issues are linked to many socio-economic-political-geographical-ethical dimensions. For example poverty in India according to the latest data is around one third of population who are below poverty line. Poverty breeds from inflation, unemployment, inadequate sanitation and nutrition along with illiteracy. An uneducated person is prone to become poor sooner than a person less educated but skilled. Directives here indicate to lower the inequality by fair distribution of income among the poor. Government does it by progressive taxation in direct taxes and keeping the indirect taxes low.Directive Principles in Indian Constitution-Relevance in Contemporary India
Taxes build Indian growth story but it has to be seen with the Human Development indicators also where Infant and Maternal Mortality, education, standards of living, and income are major criteria. India ranked 137 out of 187 countries in the Index developed by United Nations Development Programme. Directives here also cover most of the indicators promoting health facilities to the poor and equal opportunities to all sections of society which are essentially embedded in various government schemes. For example Mission Indradhanush for universal immunization and Right to Education for compulsory primary education are inspired by the directives.
Government Schemes and plans help in good governance initiatives, but major step was decentralization to third tier of government at the Panchayats and Municipalities level. This enabled the participation of people in development and devolution of powers to local bodies so that they raise their own resources and development through democracy reaches to the people in rural and remote areas at the grassroots. Further uplifting the poor and marginalized was mainly done by subsidies and cheaper loans. These steps conformed to the ideals of welfare state enshrined in the constitutional directives.
But despite all the above efforts, many issues were raised about the directives. For example they are unenforceable in a court of law and are too lofty to be achieved especially in today’s market dominated capitalized scenario. Also most ideals are socialist in nature and generally do not conform to capitalist philosophy of mass production and profit generation. Certainly socialism is a good ideal to follow but aspirational India wants more opportunities which can come from the private sector. So a balance is needed in the approach towards economic decisions.
Finally Directive Principles are certainly a higher goal to be achieved and are worth following but must be updated according to needs of society. For example Right to Health and directives to state on public service orientation along with proper political environment based on ethical principles must be included in the Directives. Also environment promotion must be supplemented with promoting renewable energy alternative development for people at affordable price and good quality within the Directives.
Apart from the new suggestions, scientific temper promotion must be on high priority in the Directives looking at recent incidents of murder of Narendra Dabholkar, Pansare and MM Kalburgi who opposed superstition and blind faith in society. Also reduction of religious intolerance and inclusive harmonious idea of India must be promoted. Caste system elimination and Dowry reduction must be an objective within the Directives so that Indian society can improve and develop. Dignity of Work must be established for so called skilled jobs. Also ethical work culture and value based education are need of the hour to be included in the Directives.
In conclusion, Directive Principles even unenforceable but carry a huge weight in policy making in the country. For example Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 emerged from Directives. Also they are fundamental to governance in the country and always carry comparable weight with respect to Fundamental Rights. Directives are basis of decision making and must be dynamic and adaptive to new needs of the people in national and social interest of the country.
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