We have to understand that the constitution is not just a book with a bunch of words in it that everyone has to follow, it is an evolving document that reflects our society.
The enforcement of our constitution marked the real start of independent India. Drafted by the Drafting Committee headed by B.R. Ambedkar, it’s 395 articles, and 12 schedules make it the largest and the lengthiest constitution in the world.
The Constituent Assembly was believed to be the representation of the will of the people.
The words ‘We the people’ signifies that it was a document given by the people, to the people and for the people.
In an attempt to decode the Constitution, Newslaundy – an independent media critique, news and current affairs portal – has launched a programme called Consti-tuition. The Better India caught up with Meghnad Saha, who is the host and co-writer of the show.
TBI: Why is it important for young Indians to understand the Constitution? What do you feel is its importance and relevance?
Meghnad: Our whole democratic setup, which is the most complex in the world, is based on what is written in our constitution. But then, we have to understand that the constitution is not just a book with a bunch of words in it that everyone has to follow, it is an evolving document that reflects our society.
It’s important for people, young and old, to get a sense of why our constitution exists and what are its intentions.
In the modern era where a radical shift is happening in our lifestyle, it’s interesting to see how the constitution and our democracy is dealing with this shift. Our show intends to reflect that sentiment.
TBI: What are the topics that this programme will cover over the ten episodes you have planned?
Meghnad: We have already covered jobs of our elected representatives, how bills become laws, participating in Parliament and Committees. The fifth episode is on the Union Budget, clearly one of the most complex subjects we have encountered till this point.
After the 5th episode, we will move on to more big-picture stuff in the second half of our series. We’ll cover topics ranging from Bureaucracy to participative democracy to interactions between three pillars of Democracy. Much drama and much wow will happen. Stay tuned!
TBI: Civics classes in school perhaps don’t hold our attention very well, how do you plan to keep your viewers engaged?
Meghnad: The idea is to make the plain boring civics lessons contemporary & fun.
By giving real-life examples of events and people that are running the system our books talked about, peppering it with humour and dollops of sarcasm, adding layers of graphics to it, we have created an interesting bunch of videos that should keep you glued to the screen.
TBI: In your research for content on the topics you are covering, did you meet with young Indians and understand what they know about these topics?
Meghnad: I have been speaking to a bunch of young folks about democracy and what they think. I give regular talks in schools, colleges, and policy camps where I get to interact and, hear a lot of opinions.
One overall feeling I got was that while young people are highly interested in the political process, because of the emotional, noisy, and over-the-top information provided to them by the media in general, they feel disillusioned. They don’t want anyone to tell them what to do, but they do want to have their own opinions about events & issues.
Our show, while we do give an opinion of sorts, in the end, is approaching the whole process positively. We want to show that it is possible to be hopeful about India.
Our attitude is, “Sure, it’s all messed up. We can fix it together.”
We can see this message getting through and resonating with young folk.
TBI: Is there an interest level among your target audience for the topics you are covering? Or, is this programme an attempt to get them interested?
Meghnad: We can see the interest growing. At the end of the show, we give Homework to the audience. Just simple DIY things to better understand our democracy. The response at the moment is decent & we see people actually doing the homework with much enthusiasm.
Our show doesn’t have a call to action in the end. There is no particular objective except for giving tools to the public to better interact with our democracy. That allows the audience to explore and experiment with us. At the end of the day, what we’re trying is an experiment.
We had no idea whether people would be interested in this content when we started off. Now, after episode 4, we can say confidently that India is hungry for more.
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TBI: There is a lot of sarcasm in the content you present. While I understand most of it is deliberate, how is the older generation taking to it? Any brickbats?
Meghnad: The older generation has been quite positive about the whole thing. Of course, there is a constant complaint that cleaner language can be used (advice which we are paying heed to). A lot of parents have said they show this show to their kids & they are really happy with the content.
Fortunately, we haven’t received many brickbats (yet). I’m expecting some after episode 6 though. We’re touching upon the very touchy topic of anti-defection there. Other than that, there are always a few runaway comments about how I need to cut my hair and take a shower!
If you wish to watch this series, do click here.
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