Sixty-nine years ago, on 26 November 1949, Sardar Patel began the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly with some good news:

I am glad to inform the House that all the nine States specified in Part B of the First Schedule of the Constitution, including the State of Hyderabad, have signified, in the manner indicated in my statement made on October 12th, their acceptance of the Constitution which the House is now going to adopt.

Part B of the First Schedule of the Constitution listed out former princely states or group of princely states who had joined the Indian Union a year ago. They were now ready to accept an Indian Constitution. By the end of day, the Constituent Assembly itself would have a much bigger announcement to make: after 2 years 11 months and 165 settings, it had adopted a Constitution for India.

Over the past couple sittings, the President of the Assembly, Rajendra Prasad, had been moderating the discussions of the Assembly in which members, for the last time in the constitution-making process, had a chance to air their views, concerns and reflect on the Constitution. Today, it was Prasad’s turn.

But as Prasad was about to begin, he had to deal with some interruptions. B. Das wanted to know if there was going to be an announcement about Vande Mataram becoming India’s national song and ‘what would be our national anthem?’. Prasad responded that a decision would be taken in January.

Algu Rai Sastri and R.V. Dhulekar seemed to want the symbolism attached to the adoption and signing of the Constitution to have some ‘Hindi’ component; they wanted a Hindi translated version of the Constitution, to be the one that the Assembly would adopt and members would sign, respectively.

Prasad reminded Shastri that the Assembly had decided that English would be the language of official use for the next 15 years and that he will work towards getting a Hindi translation ready by the 26th January 1950. To Dhulekhar, he rsponded by saying that the signing of a Hindi translated version of the Indian Constitution can only happen after the Constituent Assembly authenticated the translation – which wouldn’t be possible before 26th January 1950

After seeing off these interruptions, Prasad finally began his speech.  He laid out the challenges that framers of the Constitution had to take into account primarily the size, population and diversity of the country:

‘…The countries of Europe have never been able to join together or coalesce even in a Confederacy, much less under one unitary Government. Here, in spite of the size of the population and the country, we have succeeded in framing a Constitution which covers the whole of it…’

He briefly touched upon and recalled the constitution-making process: the Objectives Resolution, the setting up of various committees etc and provided some interesting trivia:

  • The expense incurred in the Constitution making process as of 22nd November 1949: Rs. 63, 96, 729
  • Number visitors who watched the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly from the Gallery: 53,000

The bulk of his speech was on different aspects and features of the Constitution, and he was happy with most of it. However, he did have two regrets: the Constitution did not lay down any qualifications for a member of the legislature and, the Constitution was not written in an Indian language.

Prasad ended by thanking the various individuals who contributed to the constitution-making process: members of the Drafting Committee, the Secretariat, support staff etc. Then, the moment had finally arrived:

President: It now remains to put the motion which was moved by Dr Ambedkar, to the vote of the House. The question is:

"That the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed."

The motion was adopted

(Prolonged Cheers).

Before the Assembly could adjourn, Rajendra Prasad announced another sitting – this would be the day that members would sign the Constitution.

Members of the Assembly then came to the president and, one by one shook his hands