In the previous post in this series, we looked at how to approach and use ‘keywords’ effectively. In this post, we move on to another important aspect of the advanced search: filters – arguably the most powerful and unique feature of the CADIndia’s advanced search functionality.
If you have shopped on Amazon or any of the other e-commerce websites, you would already be familiar with how to use filters while performing a search.
The filters, placed on the right-hand side of the advanced search landing page, have been carefully chosen to enhance and facilitate your ability to locate relevant parts of the Constituent Assembly Debates (CADs).
In most cases, your search would begin with typing in a keyword like ‘federalism’ - followed by choosing filters. CADIndia’s advanced search offers five filters: Speaker, Speaker Referred To, Article, Date of Debate and Country Referred To.
(Please note that you may be tempted to type in filters as keywords, but this is not ideal. For example, if you want to know what K.T. Shah said in the CADs, instead of typing in K.T. Shah as a keyword you should just choose 'K.T. Shah' as a filter - the same holds for other filters.)
Here’s a brief primer on each of these filters:
The speaker filter allows you to narrow down your search results to relevant paragraphs of a speaker of your choice. This is useful when you are not just interested in the Assembly’s debates on a particular theme/concept/topic (keyword), but also want to know what a specific Assembly member had to say about it.
Keyword =‘Secularism’ + Filter =‘K.M. Munshi’ will give you those paragraphs of the CADs where K.M. Munshi speaks on secularism. You could do the same with Hansa Mehta on minority rights, B.R. Ambedkar on equality and so on.
- Speaker Referred To
You probably would have come across this controversial quote from a speech made by B.R. Ambedkar in the Assembly: ‘What is a village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism’.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how other members of the Assembly reacted to Ambedkar’s conception of a village?
In looking for the response to Ambedkar’s speech on ‘village’, what we seek are those CAD paragraphs where members invoke Ambedkar’s name while talking about the village. To obtain these paragraphs we perform the search in this way: Keyword = ‘Village’ + Speaker Referred To = ‘B.R. Ambedkar’
It is important to clearly understand the difference between ‘speaker’ and ‘speaker referred to’ filters: If you would like to know what K.T. Shah said about ‘freedom of speech’, you would use the ‘speaker’ filter. If instead, you want to access those speeches of Assembly members where K.T. Shah’s name was invoked, then you should use the ‘speaker referred to’ filter.
Most of the CADs are organised around Articles of the Constitution; Assembly members debated themes/concepts/topics in the context of various Articles of the Constitution. For E.g. freedom of speech was not only discussed in the context of the specific freedom of speech provision (Article 19) but also in the context of emergency powers (Article 359) as well.
The Article filter is useful to isolate debates around a particular Article. So, if you are interested in freedom of speech debates only in the specific context of Article 19 (and closely related topics like the relevant schedules), then you should perform: Keyword = ‘freedom of speech’ + Article = ‘19’
The Article filter is also useful without choosing a keyword filter. Performing: Article: ‘17’, + Speaker: ‘Dakshayani Velayudhan’ will give you those paragraphs where Velayudhan speaks on Article 17.
- Date of Debate
The most fundamental unit of the CADs are dates that represent sittings – the Assembly sat for 165 days. The date of debate filter is useful when you have narrowed down your date of interest - perhaps you read a debate summary of the Article 17 in the Constitution of India page and found out that this Article was mainly debated on 29 November 1948, and you want to just perform searches only for this particular day.
When you perform Article = ‘17’+ Speaker = ‘K.T Shah’ + Date of Debate = ‘29 November 1948’, the search will provide with those paragraphs on 29 November 1948 where K.T. Shah spoke on Article 17.
Note: On every sitting or date of debate, the Assembly, on most occasions, took up more than one Article for discussion
- Country Referred To
The framers of the Constitution extensively invoked the political, social and constitutional experience of other countries while discussing the various provisions of the Indian Constitution. The country filter allows you to extract debates on a theme/article/concept in which a particular country was invoked.
For eg., you may have heard that the fundamental rights section of the Indian Constitution was inspired by the American Constitution. To read those parts of the CADs where America was brought up in the discussions on fundamental rights perform Keyword = ‘fundamental rights’ + Country referred to: ‘United States of America’
You now have a preliminary understanding of the Advanced Search’s filters and how to best use them.
In the next post in the series - Using Filters (Part II) - we will touch upon the following topics: using keywords vs filters, the utility of multiple filters, and how filters interact with the historical constitutions.