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Derek Introduces The Constitution and Parliament of India, Derek O’Brien












One of the most boring subjects in school for me was Civics. It was a nightmare to listen to the teacher drone on about the Parliament, our Fundamental Rights and Duties, the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive and so on. I would learn everything by rote, and write the test with no understanding or interest in the subject matter.  It was only when I began to teach my children Civics that I understood the full importance of the subject. I finally taught myself the difference between the US and UK systems ( that influenced our Constitution) , the meaning of Concurrent Lists, and the similarities between the state and central governing bodies.

When I chanced upon a book on this by ace quizmaster Derek O’Brien, I was delighted. Derek Introduces The Constitution and Parliament of India is a well planned and excellently researched book. The book is divided into two easy sections – one on the Constitution and the other on the Parliament. Each entry comes with a ‘Good to Know’ section that contains interesting pieces of information related to the topic. There is also a glossary of terms to make understanding easier.There are also many appendices that cover interesting information such as the election symbols for various political parties!

The book is a ready reckoner for most queries – What is the Constitution and why did we feel the need for one? What does the Constitution cover for us?What are Directive Principles?  How does the Parliament function? What is the zero hour? How do we select our parliamentarians? What is the difference between the  Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha member? Who is a governor? What does the citizenship of India entitle you to? Who should you approach if your Fundamental Rights are violated? How does a Bill become an Act? How is our Judiciary structured? What are Writs? How does the Budget for India get approved?

What I liked about the book was the inclusion of people who helped draft the Constitution, and the intense work they put in to create a document that the newly Independent India would be guided by. The Constitution was framed not in isolation by a bunch of people locked up in a room, but took the opinions of many diverse sections of the Indian community – that is what makes it so unique and inclusive. Our Constitution was framed by the most intelligent minds, across party lines, with the express intention of making it truly Indian! Excerpts from some of their speeches are also included in the book.

When Dr Ambedkar tabled the Constitution, in his speech he said,”The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us. ”

Derek Introduces The Constitution and Parliament of India is published by Red Turtle and targets the young adult group; however, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a grip on our Constitution and the Parliamentary system. Understanding the system will lead to more aware citizens!





About Preeti Singh

I am a bookaholic. I love stories, storytelling. I enjoy helping people structure their storytelling, and I love to share the stories I discover.

One comment on “Derek Introduces The Constitution and Parliament of India, Derek O’Brien

  1. Thanks, Artika for posting this on my wall. And thanks, Preeti, for reviewing this.
    I used to love Civics. We had 2 excellent History teachers in school who also taught Civics. They made it very interesting. We used to have the Civics exams clubbed with History, followed by Geography – on the same day (ICSE). Civics was mostly objective questions, which was a great scoring opportunity; but could be the opposite if you did not know the minute details. My initial interest in Civics, persuaded me to take up Political Science as a Pass Subject while doing my BA course.
    As you have said, our Constitution is fascinating…it has the good of many of the International Constitutions, along with points which are intrinsic to our system.
    Derek O’Brien’s take on the same seems fresh and informative. Would love to have a copy of this soon.
    Another ready reckoner of the main points of the Indian Constitution and Politics, for the school level, is the Students’ Companion (the red one) by another O’Brien. Its not extensive but certainly handy.

    Liked by 1 person

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