'We, the People of India': This year's MGU Arts Fest name embraces secular values, constitutional ideals

MGU Arts Festival 2024
Creative by Onmanorama

This year's edition of the Mahatma Gandhi University Arts Festival, where young talents would meet to compete for the prestigious trophy, has caught some attention with its name. The week-long fest, to be held in Kottayam from February 26, is named 'We, the People of India', the opening phrase of the Preamble to the Constitution.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unveiled the logo and name of the fest at a ceremony in Thiruvananthapuram earlier this month. The name was coined by Meenakshi Thampi of Muvattupuzha, indicating the responsibility of the young generation to uphold India's secular values. The logo was designed by Rahul Raghu of Ernakulam.

"Art has become a tool of protest against the fascist regime that attempts to undermine the secularism, brotherhood, and equality of India. The first idea that came to mind when considering a name for such an art festival was the Indian Constitution and its preamble. After numerous discussions and deliberations, the Constituent Assembly settled on the phrase "We, the people of India" to kick off the preamble to the Constitution. In the contemporary socio-cultural and political landscape of India, when the very existence of the name "India" is being questioned, there is no better name to give for an arts festival that celebrates the union of youth, the builders of tomorrow's society," says Meenakshi, who is a law student.

The main venues of the event are also named using keywords from the Constitution: Secular (Thirunakkara Ground); Socialist (CMS College ground); Democratic (Baselius College) and Justice (BCM College).

MGU Arts Festival 2024
Creative by Onmanorama

"In the last decade, political transformations within the country have evolved into a critique of the Constitution. It has become imperative for campuses to voice protests and resistance against these changes. The name of this arts festival serves as a slogan against the Central government's attempt to alter the Constitution. The stages where events will be held are named after the ideologies that the Central government is trying to eliminate from the Constitution. The overarching goal is to resist through art," said Rahul Mon Rajan, Chairperson of the MG University Union.

The name attains relevance considering how the phrase has become a tool for a political movement recently. The Preamble, which is “the soul of the Constitution”, according to a document by the Ministry of Culture, was shared by some politicians and celebrities recently in a form of silent protest.

They posted the Preamble on their social media handles on the day of the consecration of the new Ram Lalla idol (Pran Prathistha) at Ayodhya temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protest the “the BJP government for playing Hindutva politics”. According to them, the Preamble was shared to remind the central government of the importance of secularism in India.

The phrase "We the People of India" signifies the collective will and aspirations of the citizens of India. According to the Ministry of Culture, it is a reflection of the core constitutional values that embody the Constitution. It declares India to be a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic committed to Justice, Equality and Liberty for the people.

The opening and last sentences of the Preamble: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India...adopt enact and give to ourselves this Constitution” signify the power vested in the hands of the people.

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