The Constitution-framers India forgot
By Girish Rishi
Granville Austin in 'The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation' identified 21 most important figures in the assembly (from hereon, referred to as the 'framers'). Of these, we are familiar with seven -- Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, Acharya Kriplani, Pandit Nehru, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Maulana Azad, Sardar Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad.
However, I surmise that but for the work of the 14 'forgotten framers' listed below, India's Constitution and its working would have fallen short.
M A Ayyangar: Represented Madras. Was a prominent member of the steering committee. Went on to become the speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Dewan Bahadur N Gopalswami Ayyangar: Represented Madras. Was a member of the rules, business, drafting and several other committees. Went on to become a minister in the government.
Dewan Bahadur Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar: Represented Madras, was a member of the rules, drafting, union powers and several other committees.
Jairamdas Daulatram: Represented East Punjab. Was a member of the advisory, union subjects, and provincial constitution committees. Went on to become the governor of Assam.
Shankarrao Dattatraya Deo: Represented Bombay. Was a member of the minorities, and the fundamental rights sub-committees; besides, he actively participated in several other advisory committees.
Shrimati G Durgabai: Represented Madras. Was a member of the steering and rules committees.
T T Krishnamachari: Represented Madras. Was a member of the drafting committee. A businessman who went on to become a minister in the government.
H C Mookerjee: Represented Bengal. Was vice-president of the assembly and member of the minority rights sub-committee and provincial constitution committee. Went on to become governor of Bengal.
K M Munshi: Represented Bombay. Was one of the most prominent members of the Assembly. He was a member of several committees including the rules, steering and advisory committees. Went on to become a minister in the government and then the governor of UP.
Benegal Narsing Rau: Dr Rajendra Prasad, before signing the Constitution on November 26, 1949, thanked B N Rau for having 'worked honorarily all the time that he was here, assisting the assembly not only with his knowledge and erudition but also enabled the other members to perform their duties with thoroughness and intelligence by supplying them with the material on which they could work.' B N Rau was not a member of the assembly but was perhaps as important in the framing of the Constitution as Dr Ambedkar himself. Also represented India at the United Nations.
N Madhava Rau: Represented Orissa. Was a member of the drafting committee.
Saiyad Mohammed Saadulla: Represented Assam. Was a member of the steering and drafting committees.
Satyanarayan Sinha: Represented Bihar. Was a member of the steering committee and the provincial constitution committee. Went on to become the minister of parliamentary affairs.
B Pattabhi Sitaramayya: Represented Madras. Was a member of the rules, states, union subjects and provincial constitution committees. Went on to become the governor of MP.
The imprint of these 14 luminaries is seen across the Indian Constitution and especially in sections that deal with minority rights, federalism, the judiciary and fundamental rights. But, above all, these forgotten framers drove consensus among the assembly members such that the Constitution could be agreed upon in a timely manner, and the work of nation building could begin.
Although some of the 14 forgotten framers joined the government after the Constitution was completed, others quietly retired to private life -- but over the last six decades they have all gradually slipped in to oblivion. On this anniversary year, it is time we pay homage to the 14 forgotten framers -- for, in some ways, it is because of them that today the tiranga flutters atop Parliament House in Delhi.