Constitution as a Living Document: NBSE Class 11 Political Science

Constitution as a Living Document nbse 11
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Here, you will find summaries, questions, answers, textbook solutions, pdf, extras etc. of (Nagaland Board) NBSE Class 11 Political Science Chapter 18:  Constitution as a Living Document. These solutions, however, should be only treated as references and can be modified/changed.


The chapter titled “Constitution as a Living Document” explores the dynamic nature of constitutions, focusing on India’s Constitution. It emphasizes that no constitution is static; it evolves with the nation’s growth and changing needs. The American Constitution, the world’s oldest written constitution, has guided democratic institutions for over two centuries with only 27 amendments. In contrast, France has had five constitutions since 1792, reflecting the dynamic nature of constitutions.

The chapter discusses the core provisions of India’s Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, secularism, and federalism. These provisions have provided the Constitution with the flexibility to adapt to socioeconomic transformations. The document also highlights the amendment procedure of India’s Constitution, which includes amendments by simple majority, special majority, and special majority plus ratification by states.

It further discusses the democratic character of the Indian Constitution, emphasizing universal adult franchise, individual freedom and rights, social justice, diversity and pluralism, secularism, and federalism. It also mentions independent constitutional authorities like the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) and the Election Commission.

Textual questions and answers

A. Long answer questions

1. “No Constitution is static, it is a dynamic document.” Comment, giving reasons why no Constitution can remain static.

Answer: Naturally, no Constitution can have any claim to permanence. The situations and circumstances change. Therefore, the Constitution must be changed when the situation required it to be changed. The Constitution which fails to meet the requirements of a growing society is apt to be destroyed by the masses. The Constitution is, undoubtedly, a Fundamental Law of the Land, but that does not make it a document so sacred as can never be changed. Lord Macaulay once remarked that “the great cause of Revolution is this: that while nations move onward, Constitutions stand still.” At the same time, a Constitution should not be allowed to become “a plaything of politicians.” That lowers its prestige. The arguments that “every Generation should have a new Constitution” do not have much logic or cogency. The legislators cannot be allowed to twist Constitution simply because they have a majority in the Parliament.

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5. Discuss the significance of a Democratic Constitution under the following headlines:

(a) It is a means of limiting the Governmental Power

Answer: The Constitution is a means of “constraining government” and protecting freedom. It prevents our rulers from working in an arbitrary manner. A Constitution is the highest law of the land; it is superior to all other laws of the country. Any law or action of the government which goes against the provisions of the Constitution shall have no value or authority in the eye of law.

(b) It is a means of bringing about changes in peaceful manner

Answer: A democratic Constitution provides for periodic elections based on Adult Franchise. An election decides which of the competing parties would translate their policies and programmes into action

(c) It protects Minority rights

Answer: The Constitution protects the rights of individuals and Minorities both. Our Constitution is very emphatic about the rights of religious and linguistic minorities. Thus the Constitution conceives an active role of State in bringing about Social Transformation.

(d) It sets up long-term goals for a polity

Answer: Constitution ensures Freedom, Growth and Justice. These are the long-term goals set in the Preamble to the Constitution and listed under the Fundamental Rights. The Constitution also included the Directive Principles of State Policy. Directive Principles required the State to secure for its Citizens right to work, free legal aid, uniform civil code and free and compulsory education.

6. Explain the democratic character of the Indian Constitution with regard to the following points:

(a) Universal Adult Franchise

Answer: The introduction of the principle of Adult Franchise in India’s Constitution was a bold move. In 1989 the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years. The argument advanced for lowering the voting age was that “enfranchisement of the youth shall make them more sensible, more creative.”

(b) Individual Freedom and Rights of the People

Answer: Freedom is considered as the supreme political value in all liberal societies. Article 19 of the Constitution of India ensures freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens. This freedom represents our long commitment to liberty and the Rule of Law. Liberal and democratic character of our Constitution is visible from the fact that it granted protection against unlawful detention to non-citizens also. Other rights available to all persons included freedom of religion and equality before law.

(c) Social Justice and Affirmative Action

Answer: Side by side with the struggle for freedom, there grew in India the demand for social justice, i.e., “affirmative action to correct past practices of discrimination against women, dalits and other disadvantaged sections of society.” The new spirit of liberalism had gone into the shaping of the Constitution of India. Affirmative action was needed to correct past unjust practices. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been given due weightage in matters relating to employment in government offices or undertakings. Seats are reserved for them in the Lok Sabha and in State Legislatures also. Apart from SCs and STs, the other classes eligible for reservation are the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, i.e., the OBCs.

7. Secularism and Federalism with special provisions for the States of the North East constitute the core provisions of India’s Constitution. Explain the significance of all these provisions

Answer: The Constitution of India is secular in character. It does not give any special status to any religion. It treats all religions equally. The secular character of the Constitution is one of the basic features of the Constitution. It is a part of the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled that the secular character of the Constitution cannot be altered even by way of amendment.

Federalism in India is also a basic feature of the Constitution. The Constitution divides powers between the Centre and the States. The division of powers is such that it is biased in favour of the Centre. The States cannot secede from the Union. The Union can redraw the political map of India. The Constitution provides for a strong Centre. The Centre can legislate on any subject mentioned in the State List, if a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation. The residuary powers of legislation have been given to the Centre and not to the States. The Governor of a State is appointed by the President and holds office during the pleasure of the President.

The Constitution of India has made special provisions for the States of the North East. These provisions were made to meet the unique problems of these States. The provisions relate to the administration of tribal areas, religious or social practices of the tribes, customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice and ownership and transfer of land. The Governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts. Thus, the Constitution of India has made special provisions to meet the unique problems of the North East States.

B. Short answer questions

8. Mention such provisions of India’s Constitution as can be amended by Simple Majority.

Answer: The Constitution of India can be amended by Simple Majority for the following:

  • Admission or establishment of new States.
  • Formation of new States or alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States.
  • Creation or abolition of upper chambers (Legislative Councils) in States.
  • Administration of Scheduled Areas or Tribal Areas in States.

9. The Constitution has devised a few independent authorities to deal with particular matters. In this regard mention the role of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG). How did the Constitution ensure independence of the CAG?

Answer: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) is an independent constitutional authority. His main duty is to audit the receipts and expenditure of the Union and the States and of each Union Territory. There are some specific provisions in Constitution to ensure CAG’s independence. He can be removed only on the ground of ‘proved misbehaviour or incapacity’ on an Address from both Houses of Parliament.

10. What was the effect of Political Instability at the Centre during 1996 and 1999? Is that phase over now?

Answer: Various signs of political instability began to appear at the Centre from 1989 onwards. During a short span of about three years (1996-1999) India witnessed three General Elections. Fortunately, the phase of political instability at the Centre, affecting governance and economic well-being both, is over. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power on 26 May 2014. But Narendra Modi’s government is different from the previous Coalition governments, because BJP alone could secure 282 out of 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha. It was a “clear verdict” in favour of a single political party after a gap of nearly 30 years.

C. Multiple Choice Questions: Tick (✔) the correct answer.

11. An important way of classifying Constitutions is the ease with which a Constitution can be amended. The Constitution of India falls into which of the following categories?

Answer: (c) It is an admixture of Flexible and Rigid elements

12. Which of the following Amendment Acts added the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ to the Preamble of the Constitution of India?

Answer: (a) Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976

13. The theory of ‘Basic Structure’ implied that certain portions of our Constitution would never change. Which of the following falls into the category of Constitution’s basic structure?

Answer: (c) Republican and Democratic form of government

Value-based question 

The Preamble to the Constitution says. “We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA” resolved to constitute India into a Democratic Republic to secure to all its citizens: Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But the people are disillusioned because the state of affairs is not as good as they had expected it to be. Mention any three reasons to explain why is it so.

Answer: The people are disillusioned because the state of affairs is not as good as they had expected it to be. Here are three reasons to explain why is it so:

Economic Inequalities: No independent observer of Indian politics can afford to ignore poverty and alarming economic inequalities in the country. In India with nearly one-third of the population below the poverty line, it should not be difficult to see why there is a general discontent among the people.

Regional Disparities: India also presents a picture of extreme regional variations. Peoples of the north-east were poverty stricken not because of the poverty of the soil or because they shirked work. The real reason lay in the lack of developmental activities in the region.

Terrorism and Naxalite Violence: It was for each one of us, who loved their country, to ensure success in our persistent struggle against terrorism and Naxalite violence. It is time to discard age-old prejudices of caste and religion.

Additional/extra questions and answers

1. When was the American Constitution drafted and when did it come into force? 

Answer: The American Constitution was drafted by the Philadelphia Convention in the summer of 1787 and it came into force on 4th March, 1789. 

2. How many amendments have been made to the US Constitution until now? 

Answer: There have been 27 amendments made to the US Constitution until now. 

3. What is the youngest Constitution in the world? 

Answer: The youngest Constitution in the world is that of Nepal, which has recently been enacted. 

4. Are Constitutions static? Provide an example. 

Answer: No, Constitutions are not static, they are dynamic or living documents. For instance, France has had five Constitutions since 1792, including the Constitution of the Fourth French Republic in 1946 and the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic in 1958. 

5. How many Constitutions did Russia (the Soviet Union) have during its Communist regime, and when did it adopt a new Constitution? 

Answer: During the Communist regime, Russia (the Soviet Union) had four Constitutions—the 1918 Constitution, the 1924 Constitution, the Stalin Constitution of 1936 and the Brezhnev Constitution of 1977. After the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia, now known as the ‘Russian Federation’, gave itself a new Constitution in 1993. 

6. Why can no Constitution claim to permanence? 

Answer: No Constitution can claim to permanence because situations and circumstances change. A Constitution must be changed when the situation requires it. A Constitution that fails to meet the requirements of a growing society can be destroyed by the masses. Despite being a fundamental law of the land, it isn’t a document so sacred that it can never be changed. 

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46. What made Narendra Modi’s government different from the previous Coalition governments? 

Answer: The distinction of Narendra Modi’s government from previous coalition governments lies in the fact that his party, the BJP, secured 282 out of 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha independently. This clear verdict marked the first time a single political party had such a strong representation in nearly 30 years. Prior to this, the political scenario at the Centre had been marked by instability with three General Elections taking place within a short span of about three years (1996-1999). This phase of political instability had affected governance and economic well-being significantly. The stability brought about by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coming to power on 26 May 2014 marked a significant shift in the nation’s governance.

Additional/extra MCQs

1. When was the American Constitution drafted? 

A. 1787 B. 1792 C. 1789 D. 1950 

Answer: A. 1787 

2. How many amendments have been made to the US Constitution? 

A. 26 B. 101 C. 27 D. 5 

Answer: C. 27 

3. Which country recently enacted a new Constitution, making it the youngest in the world? 

A. Russia B. France C. Nepal D. India 

Answer: C. Nepal 

4. How many Constitutions has France had since 1792? 

A. 5 B. 4 C. 3 D. 2 

Answer: A. 5 

5. How many Constitutions were enacted during the Communist regime in Russia (the Soviet Union)? 

A. 2 B. 3 C. 4 D. 5 

Answer: C. 4 

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70. How many seats did BJP secure in the Lok Sabha elections when Narendra Modi’s government came to power? 

A. 300 B. 282 C. 275 D. 250 

Answer: B. 282

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