During the Constituent Assembly debates which led to the construction of our Constitution as it stands today, a lot of discussion took place on the clauses related to Article 29. However discussions on Article 30 were very limited. However, one interesting debate that did come up is very much relevant to the sectarian mess that running educational institutions has become today.

Background:

Article 23 of the Draft Constitution eventually became Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution.

The debates on the draft Article 23 happened on the 7th and 8th of December 1948.

What is today Article 30(1) was Article 23(3) in the draft constitution.

For quick reference, here is Article 30(1)

30. Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice

 

The Amendment that never made it:

 

On the 8th of December, 1948, Professor K T Shah, an eminent scholar from Bihar, and an important member of the Constituent Assembly, moved an amendment which sought to add an additional sub-clause to the above clause (1).

 

The sub-clause requested was as below

 

“Provided that no part of the expenditure in connection with such institutions shall fall upon or be defrayed from the public purse; and provided further that no such institution, nor the education and training given therein shall be recognised, unless it complies with the courses of instruction, standards of attainment, methods of education and training, equipment and other conditions laid down in the national system of education.”

 

This clause stated that even though minorities would have every opportunity to start and administer educational institutions, they would be bound by an overall “national system of education”!

 

Let’s look at the short presentation made by Professor K T Shah for this amendment.

 

Substantially speaking, it seems to be the same amendment or similar to the one I moved yesterday or the day before, viz., amendment No. 664. Only, there it was in a more positive form and here it is in a negative form, making it more clear that whatever be the foundation or endowment,in the first instance, of any such national institutions, no part of the expenditure should fall upon the public purse–neither partly nor wholly.–This I consider is necessary to provide specifically in view of the possibility of any party taking advantage of the positive provision made above. I should not like to waste the time of the House beyond just pointing out that this in reality is not identical, but that in substance it is the same. I am afraid I have not much hope of making the House change its viewpoint within 48 hours, and therefore I do not wish to take any more time of the House by speaking on it.

 

As we can see, Professor Shah saw the dangers in giving unrestricted autonomy to educational institutions, both in the context of imparting religious education, as well as in allowing minorities to run such institutions.

 

It also becomes clear from his conclusion that the rest of the members of the House did not show any enthusiasm towards such a clause. Hence it was eventually not even moved, and therefore did not have to stand the test of a vote.

 

If only this clause was more actively debated, and subsequently adopted, a monster like RTE could never have taken birth.

 

And #core1 would well be alive today!

 

References:

 

  1. Constituent Assembly Debate of 8th December 1948
  2. India’s Constitution, Origins and Evolution, Volume 3 by Samaraditya Pal
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