‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’
The Supreme Court has rejected Good Governance Foundation India’s petition to have the word ‘socialist’ struck out of the preamble of the Indian Constitution. This is because the word socialism does not actually have a fixed meaning, and can be interpreted any which way:
Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, who headed the three-judge bench, observed: “Why do you take socialism in a narrow sense defined by communists? In broader sense, it means welfare measures for the citizens. It is a facet of democracy.”
“It hasn’t got any definite meaning. It gets different meanings in different times,” PTI quoted the the Bench, as saying.
The vital question now is – does this whole different meaning in different times thing apply to the other words in the preamble – democratic, secular, and sovereign – as well?
If these words don’t have any definite meaning either, that’s good news for me. I can go ahead with my plan to create a one-Brahmin-five-votes imperial republic where Saivism is the official religion, and it’ll still be in accordance with the current Constitution. No need to expend effort writing a new one.