United we win | Daily News

United we win

The fascistic leader, who ruled the country committing villainous crimes against humanity, has promised to overthrow the yahapalana government before the next Vesak. This man is not joking; with billions of dollars tacked up in places here and elsewhere, while he is marking time. His method should be full of intrigue and violence as there are no elections scheduled before next Vesak.

At the same time Mahinda group is blaming Ranil, Ravi, and other UNP leaders for robbing the Central Bank. If it is an organised joint robbery as Mahinda indicates, then it cannot be a private commitment for individual desire, but an organised politically motivated project, perhaps to finance the counter action to the conspiracy of Mahinda group! Yes I am for it; because I could remember how we faced the Desa Premi attacks in the time of President Premadasa in 88/89. However we are still in the initial stage in the process of creating a democratic constitution with substantial power sharing. When the proposal come before the constituent assembly then Mahinda group will go to town with their vulgar racist campaign as a prelude to the overthrow action.

Western theories on nationalities

In this scenario number of activities launched by Muslim groups to mobilize inter community solidarity such as the 20th commemoration of late Bakeer Markar on August 8 is very important. It was remarkable event in many ways.

The presentation of the guest speaker Prof Davutoglu was interesting, as he explained the emergence and development 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 Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister. 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.

According to him, 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. Nehru was supported by intellectuals such as Ambekar 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. Ambekar, 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 sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them.

Supremacy of the Constitution

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 not to destroy any of the aforesaid character.

The struggle for a democratic constitution in India was a protracted one. Nehru and his group have to overcome the power of conservative Brahmins. Fortunately educated enlightened Brahmins stood for progress and they won. It was very tiring and exhausting work. At the end Ambekar considered converting to Sikhism, which encouraged opposition to oppression and so appealed to leaders of scheduled castes. But after meeting with Sikh leaders, he concluded that he might get “second-rate” Sikh status, as described by scholar Stephen P. Cohen.

Instead, he studied Buddhism all his life. Around 1950, he devoted his attention to Buddhism and travelled to Lanka to attend a meeting of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. While dedicating a new Buddhist Vihara near Pune, Ambekar announced he was writing a book on Buddhism and that when it was finished, he would formally convert to Buddhism.

He twice visited Burma in 1954; the second time to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Maha Sabha, or the Buddhist Society of India. He completed his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, in 1956 which was published later after his death.

After meetings with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa, Ambekar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on October 14, 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambekar completed his own conversion, along with his wife. He then proceeded to convert some 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him. He prescribed the 22 Vows for these converts, after the Thun Sarane and Five Precepts. He then traveled to Katmandu, Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. His work on The Buddha or Karl Marx and “Revolution and counter-revolution in ancient India” remains to be published.

Fight against tyrannies

Conservative Brahmins still use their influence to cover the collaboration of Periar and Ambekar. Periar or EVR as he was known met and discussed with Ambekar Three Times: As pointed out, EVR first met Ambekar at Bombay on 06-04-40, 07-04-40 and 08-04-40. At that time, they discussed about the creation of separate States for Muslims, Hindus, Depressed classes and Dravidians. Second time, he met him at Madras on 21-09-44, when Ambekar came there officially as a member of Viceroy Council.

At that time, there were two groups in Justice Party and one was opposed to EVR. Third time, they met at Rangoon, Burma during the Third International Buddhist Conference on 05-12-44. At that time, Ambekar revealed that he had decided to convert to Buddhism and urged EVR to convert. But, EVR replied that as long as he was in Hindus he could criticize it, but when he left, he could not. Therefore, he wanted to be in Hinduism to fight against the tyrannies.

It is clear that these leaders discussed the unity of India on the basis of equality, autonomy and the right of self determination. Yet they became respected leaders of India. We have to learn from the struggle in India for unity in diversity. Some things are still in the dark, but struggle is not over.

Are we Lankans going to march forward with a constitution with similar aims and objectives? 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 organisations that brought this government to power are preparing for a SATYAGRAHA on August 15 opposite Viharamahadevi Park at 3 p.m. to press the government to go forward to implement the programme promised during the last presidential elections.

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 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 exist for private universities to operate under the supervision of the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education! 



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