sovereignty- meaning and significance
The term sovereignty is used in relation to a government/ state. It is the inalienable right to rule and governance over well defined territorial area without any outside interference. Thus, India attained sovereignty only after getting independence from British. The British government ruling before independence had to seek orders from Britain. Thus, the Pre independence government was not a sovereign state. What Britain decided in international relations would be Indian policy also. So, when Britain fought war against Germany, India also became an ally of Britain and had to support British war efforts.
What is sovereignty
There is diversity of opinion on meaning and essence of the concept of sovereignty. The essence of sovereignty is that a state consisting of certain geographical limit has full right to govern and define state interests without any outside interference.
It may be relevant to point out that the policy of non alignment formulated by our first prime minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru was a step towards protecting our national sovereignty. It can be said without any fear of contradiction that alignment with any power- Western block led by U.S.A. and the Warsaw treaty block headed by soviet Union would compromise with our external policy and may be even in some respects with domestic policies. This would compromise with our national sovereignty. It may be further added that continuing as member of British common wealth (British- dropped later) is also a compromise with sovereignty- in theory if not in real terms. Our constitution defines India as a sovereingn, socialist, secular, democratic republic'. The words 'socialist' and 'secular' were added in 1976.
From Socrates to Hobbs, moral authority of state claiming sovereigny over citiizens has been stressed. Our constitution provides for liberty of thought and expression and social justice. The successive goverments have been elected on basis of adult franchise. Thus, Indian state meets the criteria of 'moral authority to exercise sovereignty'. For many centuries, it has been viewed that a state should be able to act in best interests of people. Otherwise, the state can not be considered as a soveregn state. There can be no state more sovereign than that elected on adult franchise. Moreover, Indian state has three differrent and independent wings- executive,legislature and judiciary- acting independently. Thus, there is no doubt about sovereign state of India.
Concept of sovereignty and its application to India
The concept of sovereingnty has changed from time to time. As regards current concept of sovereigny, we may refer to Peace of Westphalia. The concept consists of (1) territorial integrity (2) border inviolability (3) supremacy of state (4) a sovereign is the supreme law making authority within its judrisdiction.
As regards territorial integrity, we had to face war with Pakistan as well as China over border disputes and maintain our territorial integrity. Still some territory of India is occupied by our neighbor countries. It may be said that our sovereignty is compromised till we get back our territory from them. This may be done through negotiation and border disputes settled.
It may also be added that in the sense of territorial intergrity and border inviolability, India got sovereign status only in post independence area. It may be said to credit of British that they actually integreted India in one state and thus enabled India to be a sovereign state. Before the British rule, there was no single government having jurisdiction over the entire Indian territory. Each princely state was sovereign. Thus there were thousands of 'sovereign states' within Indian territory.
Sovereignty vested in parlaiment as peoples' representative
As regards supremacy of state, it can be said that India is fully independent and a proud member of United nations in its own rights. It is defined that 'sovereign' is the supreme law making athority. Thus, our parliament having supreme authority to make law is really sovereign. It follows that those interfering with law making powers of parliament are in fact attacking sovereignty of the nation.
It cannot be denied that sovereignty of nation is vested in parliament. However, parliament derives its authority and jurisdiction from the cnstitution that has been given by 'we the people'- (Preamble of constitution). People elect the parliament and thus ultimately national sovereignty lies with people. But the authority of people is not directly exercised. This is not possible in a big and vast country. So we have 'representative democracy' as against 'direct democracy' in small city states.
It is for people to protect national sovereigny which in fact is theirs. They have to rise above caste, region and religion and elect suitable candidates for good governance and protection of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and national honor.
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