On November 26, 1949, exactly 72 years ago, We the people of India adopted and gave ourselves a Constitution- the ‘longest living social document’ in the world. The Constitution so meticulously crafted by Dr. B.R Ambedkar and his Constituent Assembly outlines a social contract among the Indian people that endeavors to protect the natural rights of all. In the modern world, especially in the post- COVID-19 pandemic period. When the people are living in difficult times, it is pertinent that we go back to the fundamental principles and values laid out by the founding fathers of the Constitution, enwrapped precisely in the Preamble.

As India celebrates Samwidhan Diwas this year in the backdrop of the celebrations of 75 years of India’s independence, we must not forget that the Constitution is not merely a book of profound and complex words. It is a compact personally engaged by the people of India, a place where the destinies of youths of this country are written every day. The Constitution that begins with the Preamble gives direction and purpose to the Constitution- well reflected in the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. It assures its citizens- justice, equality and liberty, and endeavors to promote fraternity.

Today, when India and the world are arguably more divided. People are unequal, so the opportunities for their children are increasingly unequal. The only way to build a bright, just, equal, united, and free country for our children is to create the idealistic ideas of the Preamble to the Constitution. As long as the Preamble breathes, so will the soul of the country and the soul of its countrymen. Therefore Samwidhan Diwas is an opportunity and a stark reminder to never lose hope in the idea of utopia asserted in the Preamble. A dream for a perfect society, where every person and every child enjoys their rights. Utopianism is the lifeblood of social change that has inspired countless people’s movements, and it must continue to do so. Without idealism, human society will never arise from the status quo towards a state of improvement. Moreover, it was this utopia that helped our country realize its long-lost freedom.

Oppression, discrimination, division are only terms of the past. I dream of such an India. But to strive for such a society is no easy task. A saying always listens that it takes a village to raise a child. So, it would not be wrong to say that it will take the whole of India and the world to protect its children. By the whole of India I mean, individuals, families, communities, villages, cities, businesses, civil society, leaders, governments, and the international community. It will take every stakeholder’s ownership to build a child-friendly environment. It is the constitutional morality of all the citizens of the country to adhere to the fundamental duties inked in the Constitution that promises their citizens a better society. Along with allowing enjoyment of certain human rights.

The Bal Mitra Grams (Child- Friendly Villages), a flagship program of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation created across 600 villages in India, is a perfect example of how few units of our society are creating an ideal world for children. The Bal Mitra Grams is the testimony of the vision once seen by the great Mahatma Gandhi for achieving Gram Swaraj, where the lowest strata of society participate in decision-making with the tallest in the land, bringing them at an equal footing. The Bal Panchayats or the Children’s Parliament constituted in the Bal Mitra Grams is an embodiment of the aspiration of Gandhi, which allows children with no political voting rights to be part of the Gram Swaraj. Here they are self-assuring their right to education, development, and growth. Radha Pandey, a 16-year-old girl from Bal Mitra Gram in Koderma, Jharkhand, was forced to get married at a young age and give up on her education. But as a member of Bal Panchayat, she was well aware of her rights and duties that gave her the courage to say no to child marriage and inspire other girls to follow suit. Today Radha is an ambassador against child marriage, as declared by the Koderma District Deputy Commissioner.

Therefore the tangible idealist Bal Mitra Gram is a declaration of all children of the country that will no more enslave, no more exploited, no more remain uneducated, and no more have no voice. By this, they will write the new destiny of their families, their villages, and their country by fulfilling their duties.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed grave challenges in front of us, making it difficult for us to reach many socio-economic goals set for the country, especially the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we still must not lose heart. When in doubt, the Constitution and its Preamble can serve as a guiding light, a luminary to enlighten the unknown path ahead. The golden embossed words of the Preamble rest the power within the hands of the people to make correct choices for the betterment of the country. This choice is given to us every day to uphold the liberty of our citizens and act with justice, equality, and living in a fraternity forever. What is the choice you are making today?

Author – Rakesh Senger, Executive Director, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation