On 25th November 1949, a day before the Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian Constitution – which we now commemorate every year as Constitution Day ( ‘Law Day’ till 2014), Ambedkar made a long speech in the Constituent Assembly reflecting on the constitution-making process that began on 9th December 1946. In his speech, he addressed various concerns raised inside and outside of the Constituent Assembly on why was the Indian Constitution taking so long to draft.
Ambedkar reminded the Constituent Assembly of two factors that contributed to the duration of Constitution making in India. First, the text of Indian Constitution was significantly longer than the Constitutions of America, Canada, Australia and South Africa. And the second was that the constitution makers in other countries did not have to face the problem of amendments.
The reason for the length of the Indian Constitution was due to something quite unique: Constitutions of other countries usually left out administrative details – India’s Constitution did not. The bulk of the Constitution contains details about administrative machinery – largely borrowed, with some changes, from the Government of India Act 1935. These details were included to address the concern that Ambedkar and other framers had, which was that while the Constitution might prescribe principles like democracy, there was a possibility that the form of administration could subvert it.
Ambedkar suggested that the second reason for the long drafting period were the extensive debates in the Constituent Assembly around the amendments proposed to the Draft Constitution or reports prepared by various committees. According to Ambedkar, rigorous deliberation over amendments was not seen in the constitution-making processes of other counties where amendments were just ‘passed as moved’.
In light of these two factors, Ambedkar identified dismissed allegations that Indian constitution-making was long and went to say that the Assembly should congratulate itself for having accomplished this task in so short a time.