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A First Hand Glimpse of The Constituent Assembly Debates

For lovers of the Constitution, and to make people more interested in the history behind its making, Prasar Bharti has been uploading the original recordings of the Constituent Assembly Debates on Youtube. It provides a first-hand glimpse of the discussions that shaped the most important written text of our country.

Constituent Assembly Debates

The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on December 9, 1946, and it ceased to exist the day the Constitution came into force. As per PRS, the Constituent Assembly Debates can be divided into 4 parts:

Debate stagesDebate datesDescription of work
Preliminary StageDec 9, 1946 – Jan 27, 1948Committees, such as Union Powers Committee, Committee on Fundamental Rights and Minorities, submitted reports to outline the guiding principles of the Constitution.  The drafting committee was constituted to prepare the draft Constitution.
First ReadingNov 4, 1948 – Nov 9, 1948Drafting committee published the draft Constitution of India in February 1948. The draft was introduced in the Assembly in November 1948.
Second ReadingNov 15, 1948 – Oct 17, 1949Clause by clause discussion of the draft was conducted in the Assembly.
Third ReadingNov 14, 1949 – Nov 26, 1949The Assembly finished the third reading and enacted the Constitution on November 26, 1949.

Table Source: PRS, Analysis of Constituent Assembly Debates (Link).

You should check out the PRS website which has some interesting facts on the Constituent Assembly Debates- like the breakup of the time spent discussing the Constitution (101 out of 165 days), how long the Fundamental Rights discussion lasted (14 days), and how many words people spoke (Ambedkar speaking the most, i.e. more than 2.5 lakh words!).

The Constituent Assembly. Image Source: Wikipedia

Recordings Uploaded by Prasar Bharti

The project, which was started last year, aims to provide audio/video copies of 50 debates between 1946-1950. Till now 37 videos have been uploaded.

This series would be a treasure trove for anyone wanting a ringside view of what went down while debating the document that has shaped our lives and forms the basis for the social fabric of the country.

It would also be interesting to revisit the past, and be a part of our nation-building process. For example, you could listen to Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ first hand.

This speech is also available in Hindi. You should definitely give this a listen. It sounds beautiful.

There are also recordings of the oath-taking ceremonies of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, and even Lord Mountbatten.  It also has speeches by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Dr. Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, and many more. All the recordings are audio recordings (with images from the Debates appearing intermittently).

Rohit De, the author of ‘A People’s Constitution‘ has done a twitter series on the recordings. You could check it out here.

Here’s the link to the entire playlist. Have fun listening!


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