Irish influence on Indian Constitution: What many may not know

Deepansha Banswal

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When I first decided to pursue my further studies in Ireland, I checked everything related to and about Ireland. What I got to know is something that many of us are unaware of. Apart from sharing the fact that Britain rules over both the countries for many years and also having the same colors in their respective national flags, there is something else that they share. Indian’s constitution is actually influenced by that of Ireland’s. Many may not know about the Irish influence on the Indian constitution.

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Irish Flag. Credits to Erin Costa (Flickr)

The Indian Directive Principles of State Policy, were borrowed from the Constitution of Ireland. Cathal O’Normain wrote in the Indian Yearbook of International Affairs in 1963, “perhaps the Irish Constitution’s greatest claim to future fame will depend on the extraordinary influence which its Directive Principles had on the Constitution of India.” When he made this statement, he was referring to the Directive Principle of State Policy.

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Indian Flag. Credits to Nicolas Raymond (Flickr)

The Irish Constitution lists the Directive Principles of Social Policy in its Article 45: “The state shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all institutions of national life.” This provision was reproduced in Article 38 of the 1950 Indian Constitution.

Article 45 of the Irish Constitution states: “the principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas exclusively, and shall not be cognizable by any court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.” The Indian Constitution is also based on the same line as its Article 37 states: “The provisions contained in this part shall not be enforced by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.”

It is said that when the Indian Constitution was being drafted, the leaders of the Constituent Assembly continuously took advises from the Irish statesman Eamonn De Valera, who had immense experience in Constitution making and shared it very generously.

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Deepansha Banswal