Generations of Constitutional Studies

Published date01 June 2021
Date01 June 2021
Subject MatterTeaching-Learning Politics in India
Teaching-Learning Politics in India
Generations of
Constitutional Studies
Anupama S. Krishnan1 and K. K. Kailash1
A paper on the Indian Constitution and its working is de rigueur in both undergraduate and postgraduate
programmes in political science across Indian universities. When the two of us exchanged notes compar-
ing what we read on the Indian Constitution at similar points of time in our educational journey, we
realized that studying the constitution has been a lively area of interest, and there has been an impressive
increase in scholarly work over the years. In the last decade, it has been approached from a variety of
disciplinary paths causing a veritable explosion almost as if constitutional studies are the most fashion-
able field of research.
This massive accumulation has created a conundrum of mixed feelings. On the one hand, these stud-
ies from scholarly discussions in different spheres have substantially enriched our knowledge and under-
standing of the constitution and its working. On the other hand, the cumulation of knowledge can also be
overwhelming for both students and teachers alike. What was basic or essential reading two decades
ago is one of the many texts in the field. While we cannot discard or ignore the scholarship that comes
earlier in chronological time, we cannot, at the same time, cover the literature in the field given the time
constraints. Moreover, these studies also approach the field from various disciplinary angles underlining
multiple pathways to a topic. How do we then get over this dilemma caused by an embarrassment of
We attempt to map a framework that could serve as a teaching-learning framework to make sense of
the vast corpus of work. We divide the literature in the field into four generations.2 The term ‘generation’
here denotes a collective identity in terms of ideas, approaches, methods and a sequence. A generation
Studies in Indian Politics
9(1) 124–131, 2021
© 2021 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2321023021999240
Note: This section is coordinated by Rajeshwari Deshpande (
1 Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Telangana, India.
2 Our classification is not necessarily original as others have alluded to different waves of constitutional studies in India. Palshikar
(2020) characterises the recent wave of studies as the ‘second moment of constitutional scholarship’. Menon (2004) distinguishes
between the early ‘legalistic, technical, ostensibly value-neutral readings of the Constitution’, the ‘Marxist interpretation’ and the
new wave of scholarship in the 1990s which ‘assesses’ the constitution and political structures ‘in terms of their liberal democratic
values’. Bhargava (2008) underscores the impact of the behavioural revolution and how it led to the neglect of the study of the
constitution and the emergence of a trend that viewed constitutions as expressions of particular social and economic interests.
Corresponding author:
Anupama S. Krishnan, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Telangana 500046,

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