In Defence of the Republic



‘We have no affiliation with any political party and are, instead, committed to the values enshrined in the Constitution and the judicial process that is protected by it.’

Almost 25 years into the 21st century, as India, the world’s largest democracy, heads into its 18th general election, the country’s political and social landscape is darkened by the looming shadow of authoritarianism and illiberalism.

Standing against this dark tide is the Indian Constitution, with its pledge of equal citizenship to people of every faith, caste, class, gender, language and ethnicity. It is this pledge that the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG)—a collective of retired civil servants with decades of experience in public service—has been trying to uphold since 2017. It does this through letters to governments at the Centre and in the states, the judiciary, the Election Commission and similar institutions when they subvert or undermine democracy, and need to be reminded of their constitutional duty.

The 74 letters in this volume deal with a number of urgent issues: the politics of communal hate and violence, failures of governance, protection of human rights, freedom of speech and dissent, the role of the media, failures of the legal system, electoral reform, conservation and sustainable development, and the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities. Interspersed with the letters are clearly articulated, insightful essays on these themes by some of the country’s bravest and most prominent activists and public intellectuals.

For the clarity and integrity with which it speaks truth to Power, demanding an unequivocal commitment to the Constitution, In Defence of the Republic is a necessary and empowering read for the Indian citizen. It is as much a manifesto of informed dissent as it is a handbook of reference on some of the most significant issues in our national life today.

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