The wall of separation which the fundamental rights erect between the government and the people is indeed one of the greatest and surest safeguards of the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the individual.
But conditions of absolute and unhindered growth of private power, like absolute governmental power, are capable of destroying individual freedom. Concentration of private power, mainly in the form of economic controls, in the hands of a few individuals is equally destructive of the dynamic qualities of a democratic society as a dictatorial government could be.
In a highly capitalist society, a few giants in the industrial and financial world, who concentrate in themselves the bulk of economic power, can easily subject the rest of the community to the travails of a new feudalistic order.
After having provided against the emergence of a totalitarian system through the constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights, the framers turned their attention to deal with the possible future menace of a private capitalist concentration of economic power and to ensure the establishment and sustenance of a society which provided for the diffusion of economic power among the different sections of the people.
The methods they sought to provide for the purpose are embodied in the chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy, which embodied another basic principle of the Constitution.
Writing about post-war constitutions which are estimated to number over fifty, a thoughtful critic has observed:
“Liberty the constitutions could and did promise, but not bread and the modicum of economic security the little man yearns for. To him it is the plain and unadorned truth that the political decisions which are vital for the well-being of all no longer occur within the frame of the constitution. The social forces move and battle extra-constitutionally, because the constitutions did not even attempt the required solutions.”
Critics of the Constitution of India cannot accuse the framers of any lack of awareness of this problem or of not attempting to provide solutions for it.
While many of the older constitutions including that of the United States adopted the second method, namely the separation of powers for avoiding the evil and largely failed in their attempt, the Constitution of India adopts a different method, following the example of the Constitution of the Irish Republic.
According to this method, the State and every one of its agencies are commanded to follow certain fundamental principles while they frame their policies regarding the various forms of State activity.
These principles, on the one hand, are assurances to the people as to what they can expect from the State and, on the other, are directives to the Government, Central and State, to establish and maintain a new “social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of national life”. The State shall in particular, direct its policy towards securing
(a) That the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;
(b) That the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to sub-serve the common good;
(c) That the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and the means of production to the common detriment;
(d) That there is equal pay of equal work for both men and women;
(e) That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations un- suited to their age or strength.
(f) That childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
In short, these and other Directive Principles form a new Magna Carta, a charter of economic freedoms, to the under-privileged, ordinary man in Indian society.
Speaking about the value of their inclusion in the Constitution, Ambedkar said in the Constituent Assembly:
“The Draft Constitution as framed only provides a machinery for the government of the country. It is not a contrivance to install any particular party in power, as has been done in some countries. Who should be in power is left to be determined by the people, as it must be, if the system is to satisfy the tests of democracy.
But whoever captures power will not be free to do what he likes with it. In the exercise of it, he will have to respect these instruments of instructions which are called Directive Principles.
He cannot ignore them. He may not have to answer for their breach in a Court of Law. But he will certainly have to answer for them before the electorate at election time. What great value these Directive Principles possess will be realized well when the forces of right contrive to capture power.”