Workshop “Teaching and Learning the Constitution of India The Letter, the Spirit and the Law”
30th January 2019

A workshop titled “Teaching and Learning the Constitution of India:The Letter, the Spirit and the Law” was conducted by St. Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore on 30th January 2019.The workshop was aimed at introducing law and social science educators to new methods of teaching the Constitution, especially methods which make use of “technologies of learning and the internet”.The facilitators of the workshop and brought to the table rich experiences from their association with the Legal field.The workshop was inaugurated with a keynote address by Shri .Udaya Holla , Advocate General, Government of Karnataka delivered the keynote address for the workshop on, “Teaching and Learning the Constitution of India: The letter, the spirit, and the law”. Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Holla highlighted the significance of constitutional values in todays’ challenging and complex scenario.

While addressing the theme of the workshop, Mr. Holla emphasized on the importance of students understanding the Constitution and its ideals not just from a theoretical matrix, but by appreciating its practicality as well. He opined that, this is where educators and teachers play a pivotal role; in engaging the students with the constitution in a manner that they understand the practical paradigms of the same.

Mr. Holla spoke extensively about the nuances of the Constituent Assembly debates, and highlighted how it is imperative for every constitutional law scholar and student to be thorough with the same. He was of the opinion that, one could be in a better position to appreciate the diversity of our constitution only when they are exposed to the Constituent Assembly debates; in furtherance of this objective he suggested organizing simulations of the Constituent Assembly Debates.

Mr. Holla encouraged teachers to emphasize on the Spirit of the constitution and not to focus merely on the letter of the constitution; for he said, it is in understanding the spirit of the constitution that one would learn to appreciate and value the constitution and its underlying principles.

Babu Mathew, Visiting Professor, NLSIU, Bengaluru was the speaker for the first session titled “Renovating bridges: Connecting the Constituent Assembly debates and contemporary realities”. 'Nobody shall have Cake, until everyone has Bread.' This, in a nutshell is what Prof. Babu Mathew foresees for our country.

Prof. Mathew commenced his talk by highlighting the importance of inter-disciplinary approach in the teaching of law.He captivated the audience by taking them through the brief history of Indian Freedom Struggle and also spoke extensively about the historic path that culminated in the framing of the Indian Constitution.Prof. Mathew illuminated the gathering with a wide range of instances where the spirit of the constitution is being repressed by acts such as lynching, the misuse of the word 'sedition' and how such absurd interpretation of the letter of the constitution has become the latest weapon of the present day regime. In the present time even while the worst criminals are given fair trials, he highlighted how innocents were being lynched and butchered on communal grounds.

He also spoke colossally about how the spirit of the constitution is shaken by the transfer of power from the state to the Monopoly Capitalists which pose an imminent threat to Indian Constitutional ethos and spirit . Being an avid humanitarian, he strongly believes that socio-economic differences between rural and urban areas must be abolished in order to promote equitable development. 

He concluded by highlighting how important it was for us as citizens to actively participate as protecting the constitution, and the first step towards it for us as teachers, would be to educate the upcoming generation about the threats the constitution faces and enlightening them about the value of the freedom we enjoy today.

Sir asserted that Constitution should be seen as emerging out of the freedom movement and not merely as a textual production of the Constituent Assembly. He emphasized that the Constitution is a document drafted by those who represent the values of the people therefore the learning of the constitution cannot be made without drawing reference to the Constitutional assembly debates.

The second session titled Challenges for a liberal Constitution: Evaluating Infrastructure; Institutions; Ideologies and dogmas was facilitated by Prof Arun K Thiruvengadam, School of Policy, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.While explaining the challenges with teaching the Constitution Sir urged teachers to adopt more socratic pedagogies of teaching and to depart from the “ sage on the stage model” which is a more prevalent practice.

Legal education in India has undergone a paradigm shift during last few decades and is encountering with complex socio-economical and political environment resulting from globalized market place.It is imperative to analyze the text of the Constitution in a variety of ways, examine primary sources to identify their relationship to its central ideas and debate the core constitutional principles as they relate to today's political issues .

The third session titled “Resources and skills: Exploring pedagogies and resources to combat the challenges” was facilitated by Sudhir Krishnaswamy and team from the Centre for Law & Policy Research .Addressing the gathering Mr.Sudhir Krishnaswamy urged teachers to refrain from treating the Constitution as a static text rather they must adopt pedagogy that allows students to engage with the Constitution as a living social contract.Following his address the teaching faculty had the opportunity to participate in sample CAD India and SC Observer worksheets on Article 48 and cow slaughter. The session concluded with a question and answer session led by Mr.Sudhir.

© 2017 SJCL all rights reserved | Designed by INTEGRO