Part IV, Articles 36-51 of the Indian constitution constitutes the Directive Principles of State Policy which contain the broad directives or guidelines to be followed by the State while establishing policies and laws. The legislative and executive powers of the state are to be exercised under the purview of the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution.
The Indian Constitution was written immediately after India obtained freedom, and the contributors to the Constitution were well aware of the ruined state of the Indian economy as well as the fragile state of the nation’s unity. Thus they created a set of guidelines under the heading Directive Principles for an inclusive development of the society.
Inspired by the Constitution of Ireland, the Directive Principles contain the very basic philosophy of the Constitution of India, and that is the overall development of the nation through guidelines related to social justice, economic welfare, foreign policy, and legal and administrative matters. The Directive Principles are codified versions of democratic socialist order as conceived by Nehru with an admixture of Gandhian thought.
However, the Directive Principles cannot be enforced in a court of law and the State cannot be sued for non-compliance of the same. This indeed makes the Directive Principles a very interesting and enchanting part of the Constitution because while it does stand for the ideals of the nation, these ideals have not been made mandatory.
The Directive Principles are divided into the following three categories:
- Socialistic Directives: This part contains the directives for securing the welfare of the people of India, equal distribution of the material resources of the country protection of the fundamental rights of the children and youth, equal pay for equal work, education etc.
- Gandhian Directives: Under these directives are the guidelines for organising village Panchayat, prohibition of intoxicating drinks and cow-slaughter, secure living wage, decent standard of life, and to promote cottage industries, to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to 14 years of age etc.
- Liberal Intellectual Directives: In this section there are guidelines for uniform civil code throughout the country and the legislatures to follow in issuing orders or making laws.
In a nutshell, the Directive Principles consist of the following guidelines for the States:
- The State should strive to promote the welfare of the people.
- Maintain social order through social, economic and political justice.
- The State should strive towards removing economic inequality.
- Removal of inequality in status and opportunities.
- To secure adequate means of livelihood for the citizens.
- Equal work opportunity for both men and women.
- Prevent concentration of wealth in specific pockets through uniform distribution of the material resources amongst all the strata of the society.
- Prevention of child abuse and exploitation of workers.
- Protection of children against moral and material abandonment.
- Free legal advice for equal opportunities to avail of justice by the economically weaker section.
- Organisation of Village Panchayats which will work as an autonomous body working towards giving justice.
- Assistance to the needy including the unemployed, sick, disabled and old people.
- Ensure proper working conditions and a living wage.
- Promotion of cottage industries in rural areas.
- The state should endeavour towards a uniform civil code for all the citizens of India.
- Free and compulsory education for children below the age of 14years.
- Economic and educational upliftment of the SC and ST and other weaker sections of the society.
- Prohibition of alcoholic drinks, recreational drugs, and cow slaughter.
- Preservation of the environment by safeguarding the forests and the wild life.
- Protection of monuments, places and objects of historic and artistic interest and national importance against destruction and damage.
- Promotion and maintenance of international peace and security, just and honourable relations between nations, respect for international law and treaty obligations, as well as settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
Implementation of the Directive Principles
As mentioned earlier, unlike the fundamental rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of India, the Directive Principles do not have a legal sanction and cannot be enforced in a court of law. However, the State is making every effort to implement the Directive Principles in as many sectors as possible. The noteworthy implementation is the 86th constitutional amendment of 2002 which inserted a new article, Article 21-A, making free education for children below the age of 14 compulsory. Prevention of Atrocities Act safeguarding the interests of SC and ST, several Land Reform Acts, Minimum Wage Act (1948), are a few other examples of the implementation of the Directive Principles. Based on the guidelines of the Directive Principles, the Indian Army has participated in 37 UN peace-keeping operations.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution are the moral precepts with an educative value and stand for the ideals of this great nation. Ambedkar considered them as powerful instruments for the transformation of India from a political democracy into an economic democracy.The directives will help find the perfect way to a bright future through balanced inclusion of both individual liberty as well as public good. This instrument of instruction should be adopted with open arms to help transform India into a power to reckon with.