How Liberal is India: Is the Indian Constitution liberal?

Friedrich Naumann Foundation

In this essay, I revisit the question of whether one should assume that the Indian constitution is liberal. Part A examines whether liberalism was invoked by framers of the constitution either expressly or implicitly in the Constituent Assembly Debates. Part B reviews whether liberalism or liberal justifications have been commonplace in the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the constitution. In Part C, I assess whether key features of the Indian constitution are exclusively justified on liberal grounds or necessary features of a liberal constitution. In a brief conclusion I show that as a liberal society does not require a liberal constitution, it is arguably a mistake to insist that liberalism is produced through a constitution. Instead those passionate about sustaining a liberal India must engage in a substantive politics that organizes and educates around a liberal politics rather than to passively hope that the constitution will do this for us.


Sudhir Krishnaswamy, How Liberal is India: Is the Indian Constitution liberal? (Friedrich Naumann Foundation, )