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Decoding the Grammar of Constitutionalism

India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy by Madhav Khosla, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2020, pp 219, ₹599.

 

Seven decades after it commenced, the Constitution continues to att­ract scholarship. This is not surprising given the long deliberations, longer historic context that preceded the making of the Constitution and the deep political engagement of the members of the founding assembly. Even after the first rush of descriptive narratives of “making of the constitution,” scholars find it necessary to go back to the text and engage with the more theoretical questions that can help us reconstruct the challenging process of writing the Constitution. These reconstructions are not merely scholarly adventures; they are also bearers of new explanatory frameworks to understand the meaning of the Constitution, to develop critical political spaces for interpreting the Constitution and to expand a more nuanced public reason for approaching contemporary issues of public significance. The volume under review, Madhav Khosla’s India’s Founding Moment, is one such finely written and important contribution to this second moment of constitutional scholarship.

The book under review picks up three specific questions about the Constitution and then goes on to answer those questions by combining history with ideas but basically by situating the Constitution in debates on questions of political theory. Khosla argues that behind the pragmatic decisions that were rooted in the temporal moment in which the ­Constitution was framed, there existed a ­robust engagement with questions of theory.

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Updated On : 3rd Sep, 2020

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