The Making Of The Indian Constitution

9 December 1946 - 26 January 1950

By Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Nehru Memorial Museum & Library

The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 January 1950. The 299 member Constituent Assembly drafted the Constitution of India over three years.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

The Making of the Indian Constitution

The inaugural session began with Acharya J.B. Kriplani introducing Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the oldest member of the Assembly, who was proposed as its chair. 

Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was nominated Chairman, Constituent Assembly (1946-1949). 

The first session of the Constituent Assembly was held on 11 December 1946, where Dr. Rajendra Prasad was unanimously elected as its President.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was attended by 205 members, including 9 women, under the chairmanship of Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, on 9 December 1946.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

A visual of Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the Constituent Assembly on 10 December 1946.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Member of the Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), said during the First Session in December 1946:

“It is essential for any constitution which is drawn up to make all the citizens realise that their basic privileges -- education, social and economic are afforded to them; that there will be cultural autonomy; that nobody will be suppressed..."

He continued,
"[...] that it will be a constitution which will be democratic in the true sense of the term, where, from political freedom we will march on to economic freedom and equity. 

Every individual should feel that he is proud to belong to this great land. Apart from all these, a nation does not depend on identity of race, or sentiment, or on ancestral memories, but it depends on a persistent and continuous way of life that has come down to us."

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr Rajendra Prasad, elected President of the  Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), said in an address upon being elected the permanent Chairman, Constituent Assembly:

“Indeed, it is in the power of this Constituent Assembly to get rid of and demolish the very limitations which have been attached to it at its birth, and I hope that you, ladies and gentlemen, who have come here to frame the constitution of an independent and free India...

He continued,
"[…] will be able to get rid of these limitations and place before the world a model constitution, that will satisfy the people of all groups and communities and religions inhabiting this vast land and will ensure everyone freedom of action, of thought, belief, and of worship, which will guarantee to everyone opportunities of rising to his highest, which will guarantee to everyone freedom in all respects.”

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Sarojini Naidu, one of the women members of the Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), said during the First Session of the Constituent Assembly:

“I hope those that call themselves the original masters of this land, the tribal people will realize that there is no distinction of caste, creed, ancient or modern, status in this Constituent Assembly…"

She continued:
"[…] I hope the smallest minority in this country will, whether represented politically, or I do not know by what other means they may be represented – I hope they will realize that they have a jealous, vigilant and loving guardian of their interests who will not permit the more privileged to encroach by a hair's breadth on their birth-right of equity and equal opportunity in this country."

Speech by Jawaharlal Nehru during the Proposal of Objectives Resolution before the Assembly.

“We are on the threshold of a new era. This resolution is a message defining our intentions as to what we propose to do. This is a contract with the millions of Indians in particular and the people of the world in general. This is in the nature of an oath that we mean to keep… This resolution steers between two extremes (of saying too much and too little) and lays down only certain fundamentals which I believe no group, no party and hardly any individual in India can dispute… We are all in our respective spheres party men belonging to this group or that and presumably we shall continue to act in our respective parties. Nevertheless, times come when we have to rise above party and think of the nation, think sometimes of even the world at large of which our nation is a great part."

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Hansa Mehta, one of the women members of the Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), said on the question of the Objectives Resolution:

“It will warm the heart of many a woman to know that free India will mean not only equality of status but equality of opportunity."

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, one of the women members of the Constituent Assembly, said on the question of the Objectives Resolution at the Second Session of the Constituent Assembly:

“I consider this a historic milestone in our progress towards freedom. And yet freedom remains just a little beyond our grasp. Imperialism dies hard: even though it knows its days are numbered it struggles for survival."

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Seen here: C. Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman, Drafting Committee, Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), in a speech said:

“Looking back on the work of the Constituent Assembly, it will now be two years, eleven months and seventeen days since it first met on the 9th of December 1946."

He continued:
"… During this period the Constituent Assembly has altogether held eleven sessions. Out of these eleven sessions the first six were spent in passing the Objectives Resolution and the consideration of the Reports of Committees on Fundamental Rights, on Union Constitution, on Union Powers, on Provincial Constitution, on Minorities and on the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes…"

"…The Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and the Eleventh sessions were devoted to the consideration of the Draft Constitution. These eleven sessions of the Constituent Assembly have consumed 165 days. Out of these, the Assembly spent 114 days for the consideration of the Draft Constitution."

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Seen here: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar receiving representation during the proceeding of the Constituent Assembly -- December 1946-November 1949.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Seen here: Dr. Rajendra Prasad with the staff members of the Constituent Assembly.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Seen here: Members of the Union Cabinet with President Dr Rajendra Prasad. 

Sitting from Left: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Baldev Singh, Abul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, John Mathai, Jagjivan Ram, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. 

Standing from Left: Khurshed Lal, R.R. Diwakar, Mohanlal Saxena, N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, N.V. Gadgil, K.C. Neogi, Jairamdas Daulatram, K. Santhanam, S.N. Sinha and B.V. Keskar.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Seen here: Sucheta Kripalani, one of the women members of the Constituent Assembly. 

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1949-01-24/1949-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Preamble of the Indian Constitution

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1949-01-24/1949-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Part III Fundamental Rights, Constitution of India: Page 1.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1949-01-24/1949-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Signatures of Members of the Constitution Assembly, 24 January 1949: Page 1.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. Rajendra Prasad signing the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950. 

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. Rajendra Prasad shaking hands with Jawaharlal Nehru after signing the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Jawaharlal Nehru signing the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Pattabhi Sitaramayya signing the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1949-01-24/1949-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Signatures of Members of the Constituent Assembly: 24 January 1949 - Page 2.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Signing of the Indian Constitution: Jagjivan Ram (fourth from left), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (fifth from left), Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (second from right) and others.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressing the members at the time of the signing of the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950.

Making of the Indian Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1950-01-31)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar being sworn in as first Law Minister of Independent India on 31 January 1950.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1950-01-24/1950-01-24)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee shaking hands with Dr Rajendra Prasad after signing the Indian Constitution on 24 January 1950.

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1949-08-14/1949-08-14)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

President Dr. Rajendra Prasad shaking hands with Babu Jagjivan Ram during midnight session of the Constituent Assembly, on 14 August 1947. 

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1948-06-21/1948-06-21)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Babu Jagjivan Ram along with Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Jawaharlal Nehru and others during the swearing in ceremony of  C. Rajagopalchari as Governor General of India on 21 June 1948. 

Making of the Constitution (1946-1950) (1946-12-09/1949-11-26)Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, and Jawaharlal Nehru during one of the sessions of the Constituent Assembly (1946-1949).

Credits: Story

Role — Conceived By: Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan, Director, NMML.
Role — Supervised By: Dr. N. Balakrishnan, Deputy Director, NMML.
Role — Consultant: Ms. Deepa Bhatnagar, Head Research and Publications Division, NMML.
Role — Curated By: A. Selvam, Research Officer, Oral History Division, NMML.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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