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The Constitution of India

‘We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life.’

-       Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Excerpts from the speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949

Over the past few years, the Constitution of India has become a site for vibrant contestation. As its fundamental tenets of secularism and equality are questioned by political institutions, artists and writers have reclaimed the text and its iconography through tactics that involve the reproduction of the preamble or the cover of the constitution and further layering of interventions upon these. Vikrant’s mixed media drawings on the preamble depict the bodies most at risk from constitutional changes today—farmers, workers, and progressive dissenters. Situating these figures in dense, clustered agglomeration of lines, the dark strokes which gather on the surface of the Preamble remind viewers of the multiplicity at the very heart of the constitution—‘We, the People’. In select works we can see the figure of Ambedkar rendered in his distinctly vivid blue suit—a rejection of tradition through attire—as the architect of India’s constitution and the spirit behind its inclusive and affirmative frameworks of universal franchise, equality, fraternity, and justice. The sickle and raised arms appear as motifs signifying the collective charge of people, refusing to let the legacy of the constitution be erased and vigilant to the ongoing work of building a social democracy—a society free of majoritarian power and oppression.

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