In July 2019, Romila Thapar opened the first chapter of The Idea of the Indian Constitution, a conference for teachers, in Calcutta, with the question: When does a constitution become a requirement? What followed was an explosion of ideas and thoughts from some of the finest minds in the country over three days.

The Idea of the Indian Constitution II, a conference for teachers, now travels to Pune with fresh insights and new voices.

Below is the tentative schedule for the conference.

Takshila Educational Society and History for Peace—An initiative of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts cordially invite you to

The Idea of the Indian Constitution II

7, 8, 9 February 2020

Venue: Delhi Public School Pune, Nyati County, Vill. Mohammadwadi, Pune, Maharashtra 411060.
Ph.: 020-26970418/26970428

To register, click here

7 February 2020

2 p.m.

Welcome address: Neelam Chakrabarty, Principal, Delhi Public School Pune


2.10 – 2.20 p.m.

Opening address: Meena Megha Malhotra, Director, History for Peace


2.30 – 3.30 p.m.

Keynote address

Apoorvanand Jha


3.30 – 4 p.m. Coffee break


4 – 5.30 p.m.

On Fundamental Duties

Anuj Bhuwania

Fundamental duties were only incorporated in the Indian Constitution in 1976. However, they have quickly become one of the most publicised parts of the constitution. School textbooks have given them pride of place along with the preamble. And the current government focuses solely on this part in its constitution day celebrations. In this session, I will discuss the history of fundamental duties as well as their appeal. I will also discuss various attempts since to make them the centrepiece of constitutional pedagogy in India.

Anuj Bhuwania is the author of Courting the People: Public Interest Litigation in post-emergency India published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. He is currently Dean and Associate Professor at the School of Law, Governance and Citizenship, Ambedkar University Delhi.


8 February 2020

9.30 – 11 A.M.

The Making of the Constitution of India: A Focus on Process and Methods

Arun Thiruvengadam

This presentation will focus on the methods and processes that were devised by the Constituent Assembly of India in order to ensure that the views of its 300 odd members, and those of the larger masses of British India, were effectively heard and considered in the making of the Constitution of India.

While much focus has been paid to the substantive aspects of the Indian Constitution, and great debates have been waged on the provisions it contains, those that were omitted, and absences and gaps in its text, much less attention has been paid to the procedural aspects of the working of the Constituent Assembly. For a long while, Granville Austin’s claim that the Indian Constituent Assembly exemplified decision-making by consensus and through the principle of accommodation has held sway. However, some scholars have always held a different view, and more recent analyses have shown that on many important issues, there were voices of dissent and disagreement within the Assembly.

This presentation will review these scholarly debates with a view to understanding how fundamental disagreements between the framers were resolved through the use of strategic methods and innovative ways of finding compromise. These lessons seem particularly apposite in the India of the past quarter century, when governance has been plagued by the imposition of polices favoured by ruling governments without seeking to consult the populace or through genuine attempts to incorporate divergent views. It may well be that we may learn as much from the framers of our Constitution about matters of process as in matters of substance.

Arun K. Thiruvengadam is a Professor of Law at the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University, Bangalore. He holds degrees in law from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and New York University School of Law. Between 1995-97, he worked in the Indian Supreme Court as a law clerk to Chief Justice A.M. Ahmadi. He has since worked as a litigator before the High Courts of Madras and Delhi and the Supreme Court. In his academic teaching and research career, he has focused on Indian and comparative public law, regulatory law and law and development. He holds current visiting teaching appointments at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), the Central European University (Hungary), and the City University School of Law (Hong Kong). He has previously taught at the Universities of Toronto (Canada), Trento (Italy), and the National University of Singapore.

He is the co-editor of Emergency Powers in Asia (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010), Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia (Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2013) and the author of The Constitution of India: A contextual analysis (Hart/Bloomsbury UK, London/New Delhi, 2017). His most recent co-edited volume is Amartya Sen and the Law (Routledge USA, 2019).



11 – 11.30 Coffee break


11.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.

3 parallel workshops


Critical Understanding of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression

Sunita Biswas

With two 45-minute lessons for class 9 on Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution, this workshop will take a closer look at  ‘reasonable restrictions’ on the right to freedom of speech and expression, particularly in the context of the recent internet shutdown in Kashmir. Through an objective interpretation of multiple sources followed by discussion around findings participants will decide whether or not restrictions are ‘a necessary evil’.


Sunita Biswas teaches History at the middle and senior school levels at Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata. She likes to stretch the minds of her students to go beyond the textbook and the syllabus to explore, connect and make critical conclusions for themselves.



Making Sense of a Contested Canon: Developing a Constitutional Sensibility in Grades 11 and 12 in Complicated Times

 Sathish Jayarajan

In this workshop, I explore whether an enquiry based approach to the study of the Constitution of India (as a text or primary source) leads to the development of a constitutional sensibility and makes for good teaching practice. The approach involves creating an argumentative classroom that is enabling of active intellectual exploration.

We will actually try and set up an argumentative classroom and run some activities in this workshop. We will then ask ourselves whether a constitutional sensibility is about appreciating the contested and complex nature of constitutional arrangements.


Sathish Jayarajan is Principal and Higher Education Advisor, Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore.


Gender Rights and the Classroom: Queer Story of Section 377 in Our Lives

Pawan Dhall, Rafiquel Haque Dowjah

 This session will provide a brief overview of the history of Indian queer movements since the late 1980s and early 1990s. It will delve more specifically into the socio-legal challenge against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code over nearly 25 years that resulted in the statute being read down irreversibly by the Supreme Court last year. With the help of three or four cases as well as the sexual health and mental health arguments against the law, the session will look at how Section 377 was against our Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution. In conclusion, the session will focus on the highlights of the apex court’s historical Section 377 verdict, including how it upheld the basic tenet of constitutional morality, and the court’s expectations from the teaching fraternity. This will possibly be done through a short film screening. If time permits, the session will include an exercise on examining the issue of privilege or lack of it as experienced by queer people. Reading material will be shared with the participants at the end of the session.


Pawan Dhall has been engaged in activism and writing on queer rights in India since the early 1990s. A founding member of queer group Counsel Club (1993–2002), he worked with SAATHII, an NGO focused on healthcare and social justice access, from 2002 to 2014, and now runs Varta Trust, which undertakes publishing, research and advocacy on gender and sexuality. 


Rafiquel Haque Dowjah‘s love for the performing and visual arts, deep interest in Bangla language, photography and communication skills have lasted him in good stead since his younger days. He became part of queer activism in Kolkata since the mid 1990s as a key member of Counsel Club and founding member of sister NGO Integration Society. He edited the Bengali section of Pravartak, Counsel Club’s house journal and one of the earliest journals of its kind in India. He was one of the key motivational figures and mobilisers for ‘Friendship Walk ’99’, South Asia’s first rainbow pride walk held in Kolkata on July 2, 1999. He continued to be a key organiser of the Kolkata pride walk from 2003 to 2005. Though not part of the queer movement any more per se, he is pursuing his desire to create audio-visual material on queer themes. He now works in communication management in an LGBT-friendly corporate in Mumbai.


1.30 – 2.30 p.m. Lunch


2.30 – 3.30 p.m.

The Idea of the Indian Constitution and the Search for its Missing Mothers

Achyut Chetan

Constitutions across the world continue to flaunt the wisdom of their ‘founding fathers’, exceptional men who participated in august assemblies to draft the charters of their nations. In the Indian context, this is a travesty of truth given the fact that women, though few in number, were important members of the Indian Constituent Assembly. The signatories on the much-adorned Indian Constitution included twelve women who shared a constitutional vision of justice to such an extent that they can collectively be called the ‘Founding Mothers of the Republic of India’.

       These women had come to the Assembly, not through patriarchal benevolence, but had earned their rights to be participants in the foundation of a republic. Most of them had a long history of being part of women’s organizations, both national and international, and practiced a form of constitutional politics even prior to their being elected to the Constituent Assembly. This talk highlights the important role they played in the shaping of the Indian Constitution.



Achyut Chetan earned his Ph. D for his research on the ‘The Missing Mothers of the Indian Constitution and the Gender Politics of its Framing’ from Visva-Bharati, the University established by Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan, India. He taught English literature at Visva-Bharati for a year before joining Santal Parganas College, Dumka as an Assistant Professor of English. He continues to teach there with a commitment to pedagogy as a means for social transformation in marginal areas, and with a special conviction in constitutional morality. 

He is working on his book on the Indian ‘founding mothers’ about whom he has spoken at several places including Columbia University, New York; University of Texas, Austin; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Presidency University, Kolkata; and Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. A recipient of Sir Ratan Tata Trust Fellowship and the Charles Wallace Trust India Fellowship, Chetan is involved in research on ‘Situating Indian Feminism in an International Frame: 1930 to 1950’. Chetan was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at the Department of History at Columbia University, New York (2011-12) and is presently South Asian Studies Fellow, 2019-20 at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.


3.30 – 4 p.m. Coffee break


 4 – 5.30 p.m. World Cafe

Group discussion facilitated by History for Peace


9 February 2020

9 – 11 a.m.

Repeat of the 3 parallel workshops [with coffee break]

Sathish Jayarajan, Sunita Biswas, Pawan Dhall and Rafiquel Haque Dowjah


 11 – 11.30 a.m.

Feedback and closing remarks and introducing History for Peace website




About Takshila Educational Society

Set up in 1997, Takshila Educational Society runs Delhi Public Schools at Patna, Pune, Ludhiana and Coimbatore, operates a centre for children’s literature and arts named Ektara, publishes books and magazines under the banners of Takshila Publication and Jugnoo Prakashan, promotes engagements related to literature, visual arts, performing arts, and cinema through its unique multi arts space Arthshila, and works through Parivartan for integrated rural community development in Siwan district of Bihar. Every Takshila endeavour is a small tribute to the tremendous cultural richness of India. To add new dimensions to this vision, the Society also promotes art and artists in various fields at national and international level.



Please find here accommodation options suggested by the organizers:

S.N. Property Full Address Contact Nos. Booking Website Single Occupancy per night Distance from School
  1  Country Club Kool Undri 2 Undri Road, Nyati County, Pune 411028 020-26804831/2/3/4, 8329148582 Rs. 2500 1 km
  2 Satkar OYO Lodging (64012) 1, Handewadi Chowk, Katraj Saswad Road, Pune 0124-3936776 Rs. 1000 3.5 km
  3 YMCA International Home 382, New Rasta Peth, Pune 411 011 020-26064842/1338 Rs. 2500 8 km



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