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Class7 : Chapter 9 Struggles for equality- The Indian constitution as a living document

Last Updated : 12 Jul, 2023
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“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.”

This is one of the most famous and historical quotes given by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King. In his iconic speech I Havefor a Dream which he delivered in 1963 he said, “A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few”. This remarks that not only for decades but for centuries the problem of inequality is perpetuating in the world.

We often tend to forget that it is not the difference that divides us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate these differences that give birth to inequality and discrimination. Our life is revolving around this vicious loop of inequality. People have been struggling for ages for equality in rights, equality in education, equality in opportunities, equality against gender discrimination, and equality to live a healthy lifestyle no matter what caste, color, sex, or religion is. For decades people have been fighting to live with equality, liberty and dignity. One such historic event in the fight for equality was THE TAWA MATSYA SANGHA in Madhya Pradesh. Tawa Matsya Sangha is basically a federation of fish worker cooperatives. It is an organization fighting for the rights of the displaced forest dwellers of the Satpura forest in Madhya Pradesh.

The Tawa originates in the Mahadeo hills of Chindwara district and flows through Betul before joining The Narmada in Hoshangabad. In 1958, the Government started building The Tawa dam and for the same displaced a large mass of people and submerged a large area of agricultural land. This has uprooted life of the people displaced and thus to keep their souls and body together, they have sought hope in selling fishes. But in 1994, The Government has given rights to fishing to private contractors who got cheap labour from outside the village but villagers protested against this and continued fishing there due to which private contractors threatened them by coming into the village. They too hired people to terrify villagers and stop them from fishing from the tawa reservoir. Thus, to combat this problem, Tawa Matsya Sangha was formed, and several rallies and chakka jams were organized demanding their right to continue fishing for their survival. Madhya Pradesh Government made a committee to handle this issue and the committee ordered in favor of the villagers. In 1996, Madhya Pradesh Government decided to give fishing rights to the displaced people. A 5-year lease agreement was signed two months later. On January 2, 1997, people from 33 villages of Tawa started the new year with the first catch. The Tawa Matsya Sangha worked harder for the people there. Under them, the fish workers began to earn more than the basic. Moreover, The Tawa Matsya Sangha has also helped fish workers by providing loans for repairing boats and buying new nets. Thus, villagers were given their rights only because they fought for them and this is not one example. There are many events that have happened in history in which people fought to preserve their rights.

The Indian Constitution as a Living Document

India is a democratic country and democracy provides the right to speech, the right to education, the right to religion, the right to freedom, right to information everyone should have all these rights equally and if someone or some community is deprived of their rights then there are communities, laws, rules and regulations which together aim to protect such people. Movements and struggles for equality in India refer to the Indian Constitution to mark the point of equality and justice for all. The term living document signifies something alive that is living along with us and that has a real meaning in our lives.  The Indian Constitution is a living document because it can be amended with time according to the changes happening in society. It can be modified for the welfare of the people of India. It ensures equal rights to all and everyone is the same in the eyes of the Constitution. Moreover, In a democratic country like India, there are communities like Tawa Matsya Sangha and leaders like Dr B. R. Ambedkar that push their limits to expand the idea of democracy and equality to all. “Equality is the soul of liberty; there is in fact no liberty without it.” Hence, everyone is creditable to equality.

Frequently Asked Questions –

Q 1. What do you mean by equality?

Equality means equal opportunities and access to things free from any sort of discrimination.

Q 2. Brief some of the incidents of inequality that happened in Indian history.

Inequality has had a tight hold on India since ancient times. Earlier people were discriminated and they were not allowed to enter temples or take water from village wells. The caste system and gender biases are some of the major reasons for perpetuating inequality.

Q 3. What is Tawa Matsya Sangha?

Tawa Matsya Sangha is a federation of fish worker cooperatives which aims to provide a helping hand to fisherman fishing in the Tawa reservoir. It helps them by providing them with loans for repairing equipment and to buy new fishing tools.

Q 4. Why Tawa Matsya Sangha was formed?

Tawa Matsya Sangh was formed to fight for the rights of the people displaced as the displaced people were fishing for their survival but the government has given fishing rights to private contractors and to preserve their rights, Tawa Matsya Sangha was formed. They protested and organized rallies and finally, they succeeded and got the right to fish in the Tawa Reservoir.

Q 5. What is your view on “The Indian Constitution as Living Document”?

The Indian Constitution is a living document because it can be altered and amended accordingly in order to meet the changes happening in society. The Constitution of India focuses on the benefit of the people of India and for the same it can be amended.

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