Comparative Constitution Making
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Comparative Constitution Making

Edited by David Landau and Hanna Lerner

Recent years have witnessed an explosion of new research on constitution making. Comparative Constitution Making provides an up-to-date overview of this rapidly expanding field.
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Chapter 22: Constitution crafting in South Asia: lessons on accommodation and alienation

Menaka Guruswamy


In this chapter we will examine constitution crafting processes adopted by the founding constituent assemblies of India, Pakistan and Nepal. The analysis of these three countries will show that constituent assemblies are most shaped by the dominant political party that has maximum presence at the time. Further, the methodology of crafting and the constitutional values arrived at reflects the culture and hierarchy of that political party. The constituent assemblies of India, Pakistan and Nepal illustrate different methodologies that either alienated or accommodated difference - ethnic, religious, linguistic - of minorities. India’s assembly at its founding was more successful. in not only completing its constitution, but also drawing in minorities into the political and constitutional milieu. While Pakistan concerted effort to hammer down a constitutional and national identity that constitutionally privileged Urdu speaking West Pakistanis contributed to the second partition of the country that would follow two decades later. Nepal’s constitution project must be appreciated for what it did accomplish initially - the dissolution of an overbearing monarchy, and the drawing into polity formed rebellious movements and historically alienated ethnicities. To that extent it has accommodated political and ethnic differences. Yet, protracted and incomplete constitution crafting coupled with divisive politics have taken their toll - and it remains to be seen whether Nepal will either built on its accommodative constitutional founding or veer towards a more alienating constitutionalism.

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