An advertisement issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which used an image of the preamble of the Indian Constitution without the words secular and socialist, has sparked off a furore on social media.
The advertisement appeared in newspapers on Jan. 26 to mark India's Republic Day.
The preamble of the Indian constitution reads: "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic…"
The advertisement reads: "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign democratic republic…"
The words "socialist, secular" were added to the Preamble through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act in 1976. So the image is of the preamble as it was prior to the amendment. The amendment itself is controversial as it happened during the Emergency when civil rights were curtailed by prime minister Indira Gandhi.
The omission came to light on the same day that President Barack Obama said that upholding religious freedom was the responsibility of the Indian government. "Every person has the right to practice his faith without persecution,fear or discrimination," he said at the Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi on Tuesday.
Obama, who was delivering the final speech of his three-day trip to India, said, "In both our countries, in all countries, upholding this fundamental freedom is the responsibility of government, but it's also the responsibility of every person."
An online signature petition condemning the advertisement, which was started on Tuesday, had over 500 signatures at the time of writing this article."At the time when the people of India, and even the global community, have genuine apprehensions about the secular character of the Indian democracy, which stands threatened by a right-wing government formed with less than one-third of the popular votes, this omission is utterly condemnable," the petition reads.
The Twitterati and BJP's political opponents have lashed out at the omission in the advertisement.
On this Republic Day let us again rededicate ourselves to being a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 26, 2015
Pl sign petition - Shocking Govt ad on R-Day that cut 'secular' & 'socialist' from Preamble of Constitution of India http://t.co/RM7nhwLsZD— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 27, 2015