April, May, June 2019
Dedicated to the memory of PeaceWorks friend and patron Kozo Yamamura (1934 – 2017)

Supported by Takshila Education Society

Who is a citizen? What colours an action 'anti-national' or 'national'? What does the ‘law of the land’ say? How do we bring these ideas into our education system? Let's explore this and more at The Idea of the Indian Constitution this July!
Last date for registration is 10th July, 2019.

'He is dirty, he eats beef, that's why I don't sit next to him at lunch.'

'I can throw watermelon seeds anywhere, that's why my maid gets paid.'

Society's biases often find clear, unabashed expression in the words of children. What is it that makes a child imbibe/inherit intolerance towards difference, even active hate? How far can we as teachers go in challenging such deep-set beliefs, helping our youth become socially and politically conscious? Can we afford the time to? How?

The increasingly precarious position of the Indian Constitution makes it the perfect place to start. This conference, we will work towards understanding key concerns and finding ways of taking this text out of its distant ornate leather bind and to the youth as a living document that shapes their location.


The Indian Constitution

The words sound heavy, frozen, intimidating.

What do we know of it? A few fundamental rights, duties, some directive principles maybe. That it is 'the law of the land'. Is this law objective? How have the same words been differently interpreted through the years? How have these altered understandings affected the text itself?

Here are two interesting insights to get us started.

' Even at the time it was framed, the text was not a closed document....As the chronicler of the constitution, Granville Austin, famously wrote, “Fundamental rights were to be framed among the carnage of fundamental wrongs"...In all, the constituent assembly was just as much as a space of conflict and collegiality, as many current assemblies, and its hallowed status in the country’s history should not blind us to the fact that real individuals and not mythic heroes populated it', Nandini Sundar writes.

Expanding on the idea of the Constitution as a product of the interplays between the text, the courts and the people, this article talks about the non negotiable values of the Constitution and the limitations of the text that have allowed for varied interpretations, some an effective shrinking of the 'vision of its founders'. Read the entire article here.


We know when the Indian constitution was drafted, implemented, perhaps even how many it was drafted by. But what did it mean in its context? Did it matter to the people of this nascent independent nation?

Rohit De's A People's Constitution traces 'how drinkers, smugglers, petty vendors, butchers, and prostitutes—all despised minorities—shaped the constitutional culture' in nascent independent India. Here's a Ravish Kumar interview of the lawyer and historian of modern South Asia talking about his work.
Looking for something you can apply more directly in the classroom? Take a look at this lesson plan devised around the class VIII NCERT curriculum on the Indian Constitution by JANAAGRAHA.


Students unwilling to do assignments? Spending too much time on the web? Just club the two! Take a look at this Youtube series on constitutional education for inspiration.

A little of this & that...

Stone plaques announcing the sovereign authority of the gram sabha dot a rising number of Jharkhand's adivasi villages—the Pathalgadi/Patthargadi movement claims to evoke the Indian Constitution even though it has been accused of being anti-national by State rhetoric. Want to find out more about this movement for self-rule? Take a look at the video above and this article by Virginius Xaxa to begin.

Did you know that India was among the very few former British colonies whose constitution was written by its own people? Find five other fascinating features of this foundational text in this video.

That the Indian Constitution is the longest in the world, is a known fact. But did you know it was originally hand-written?

Read here and here to find out more.

Not sure how to take constitutional values to young children? Leila Seth's taken care of it with (the illustrated) We, the Children of India — a simple, concise read that doesn't compromise on complexity as it introduces young ones to the Preamble of the Constitution.

Want a break from endless lesson planning and class prep? Here's a wonderful short story (in devnagiri and urdu) by Saadat Hassan Manto, available in audio here and in English translation in Bitter Fruit: The very best of Saadat Hassan Manto (Penguin)

Digital art courtesy: https://www.waqas.art/kipp-harbor-times

Shared Histories @ Chandigarh

This May saw the Chandigarh launch of History for Peace in the form of a history teaching conference that concluded at Le Corbusier's stunning Chandigarh Government Museum & Art Gallery. Among topics covered were regions and religions in pre-Sikhism Panjab, Mughal Ramayanas and Jaina Shahnamas, teaching Partition as a nation-building exercise, the 'widows of Partition', individual vignettes affected by and affecting history, the princely states of Kapurthala and Kashmir in the wake of 1947.

While we are on the subject of shared histories,

Image credit (left) Iftikhar Dadi, (right) Priya Paul
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