This article explores the engagements of people and various civic organizations, even from the margins of society, with the making of India’s constitution during the early stages of its drafting. Using hitherto unstudied archival materials, it examines constitutional visions, demands, conceptions of inclusion, and constitutional proposals, as these were expressed at the time by people outside of the Constituent Assembly. The conventional understanding has been that the constitution was a product of elite consensual decision-making, and that India’s nationalist leaders endowed it from above. This article shifts the historical inquiry away from the Constituent Assembly onto the ways the constitution-making process was experienced, related to, and understood from below by ‘We the People’ – those on behalf of whom the constitution would ultimately be enacted. Hence, it constructs a new perspective on the making of India’s constitution. In doing so, the article throws light on the significance of people’s interactions with the constitution-making process on the nature of India’s decolonization, on its successful democratic transition, and on the rooting and endurance of its constitution against many odds.
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© The Author(s), 2022.
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