Musings on the Constitution-XXXII Narasimhan VijayaraghavanAnne Mascarene Mascarene was born in 6 June 1902 in Trivandrum into a Latin Catholic family. Her father, Gabriel Mascarene, was a

Musings on the Constitution-XXXII
Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

Anne Mascarene
Mascarene was born in 6 June 1902 in Trivandrum into a Latin Catholic family. Her father, Gabriel Mascarene, was a government official of the Travancore State. She attended the Maharaja’s College Travancore earning double MA in history and economics in 1925. She went on to earn a degree in law at the Maharaja’s Colleges for Arts and Law, Trivandrum, following her return from a teaching stint in Ceylon.
Anne Mascarene has registered many firsts to her name in the political history of India. She was one of the first women to join the Travancore State Congress and the first woman to join the Travancore State Congress Working Committee. Formed in 1938, Travancore State Congress was significant for the political history of the Travancore and later integrated with the Indian Union. Mascarene played an important role in this integration and in the Independence movement of India. She later became the first woman MP from Kerala when she was elected to the First Lok Sabha as an independent candidate from Thiruvananthpuram constituency.

An extract of her speech on Nov 24th, 1949:
“We are here laying down principles – rudimentary principles – of democracy, not for the coming election but for days to come, for generations, for the nation. Therefore principles of ethics are more suitable to be considered now than principles of expediency. I am a believer in politics as nothing but ethics writ large. I am not a believer in politics as a computative principle of addition, subtraction and multiplication. …….. If the Provincial or the States people are to be guided, let them be guided by experience. If we have erred, we will err only for a time or a period. They say that this is a deviation from the democratic principle. Well, I ask where is the necessity to deviate from the experience of nations and ages? Have you any prima facie case to show that we have erred in our democratic principles? In that case I am willing to accept this clause. But, as it is, we have not tried the experiment. We are only in the making of it. If in the experimental stage we fail, well, there is provision in the Constitution to amend it when time and circumstances demand. But let us not sully the fair name of the nation by believing in the first instance that the provincial people will not be guided by principles of truth and justice and will not keep up the democratic principles of fairness by electing by fair means. Centralisation of power is good enough for stable administration, but centralisation of power should be a development at later stages and not from the very inception of democracy. At the very inception of democracy, centralisation would look more autocratic than democratic. We are living in an age when democratic experiments are being tried by many a nation.

Dr. Ambedkar quoted from the Canadian Act of 1920. How is it that he did not travel down to the United States from Canada? Why would he not look at the Australian Commonwealth? If Canada has adopted a measure, is it necessary that India, with twenty-five times the population of Canada and half the size of Europe, should adopt those very principles in her Constitution and take it as a salutary example for experiment in democracy? If democracy could succeed in the United States, if it can succeed in England, why should it not succeed in India without this Clause? Well, Sir, I hope this House will give consideration to this Article and be guided by principles of democracy rather than by principles of expediency. Tribute to Sardar Patel for Unifying India Without Bloodshed. I am not flattering myself, but I should like to inform this House – I think they already know – that adult franchise was first introduced in India by Travancore, and democratic institutions were introduced in Travancore and Cochin before any other province could think of them….. We should congratulate ourselves that this is the first occasion in the history of the world when four hundred million people have launched on the ocean of self-government and that is going to be the best example ever known in the history of the world”

Dakshayani Velayudhan (4 July 1912 – 20 July 1978) was an Indian parliamentarian and leader of the Depressed Classes. Belonging to the Pulaya community, she was among the first generation of people to be educated from the community. She holds several distinctions including becoming the first woman from her community to wear an upper cloth, the first Scheduled Caste woman graduate in India, a science graduate, a member of the Cochin Legislative Council and of being one of nine female members of the Constituent Assembly of India.India can never forget the struggles of Dr BR Ambedkar to gain rights for the Dalit community and his contribution to the Constitution. But does India remember the first Dalit woman elected in the Constituent Assembly? She was Dakshayani Velyudhan, the first person from the Pulaya Community to gain formal education, the first woman in the community to wear an upper garment and the first and the only Dalit woman in the Constituent Assembly. Velyudhan joined hands with Ambedkar in fighting against many common issues related to Dalit rights.
Shrimati Dakshayani Velayudan (Madras: General): Mr. Chairman, before I express my views on the Resolution, let me pay my humble homage to our Revolutionary Father, Mahatma Gandhi (applause). It is his mystic vision, his political idealism and his social passion that gave us the instruments to achieve our goal. I submit that a Constituent Assembly not only frames a constitution, but also gives the people a new framework of life. To frame a constitution is an easy job, because there are many models for us to imitate. But to renew a people on a new foundation requires the synthetic vision of a planner. The Independent Sovereign Republic of India plans a free society. In our ancient polity, there were conflicts between absolutism and republicanism. The slender flame of republicanism was snuffed out by the power political States. The Lichavi Republic was the finest expression of the democratic genius of our ancients. There, every citizen was called a Raja. In the Indian Republic of tomorrow, the power will come from the people……

We could understand the attitude of the Princes in this matter from the statement made by the members of the Negotiating Committee who represent the Chamber of Princes. But here comes a Maharaja with a historic message to his people. I mean the Maharaja of the Cochin State, which is one of the most advanced States in India and I am proud to say that I belong to it. Here is a part of the message: “I believe in pure constitutional rule and, throughout my life, I have sedulously cultivated an attitude towards life and institutions which are antipathetic to autocracy and personal rule.” From this message it is obvious that the power comes from the people. In the Indian Republic there will be no barriers based on caste or community. The Harijans will be safe in a Republican State of the Indian Union. I visualise that the underdogs will be the…..
(Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)

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