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The Republic Day Of India

The Republic Day of India is a national holiday of India to mark the adoption of the Constitution of India and the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on January 26, 1950. It is one of the three national holidays in India.

History

Although India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, it did not yet have a permanent constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonialGovernment of India Act 1935, and the country was a Dominion, with George VI as head of state and Earl Mountbatten as Governor General. On August 29, 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as chairman.

A draft Constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on January 24, 1950. Two days later, the Constitution of India became the law of all the Indian lands. The Constitution of India came into effect only on January 26, 1950. Following elections on January 21, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India. This was, in fact, a deliberate act, signing the constitution on January 26, to mark and respect the freedom fighters who wanted January 26, 1947 as India's initial independence day.

Granville Austin has described the Indian Constitution drafted by Ambedkar as 'first and foremost a social document.' ... 'The majority of India's constitutional provisions are either directly arrived at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement.'

The amending mechanism was lauded even at the time of introduction by Ambedkar in the following words: "We can therefore safely say that the Indian federation will not suffer from the faults of rigidity or legalism. Its distinguished feature is that it is a flexible federation."(CAD VII : 36).

"The three mechanisms of the system derived by the Assembly, contrary to the predictions, have made the constitution flexible at the same time protected the rights of the states. They have worked better than the amending process in any other country where Federalism and the British Parliamentary system jointly formed the basis of the constitution" -- Granville Austin, 1966, 321.

Rashtrapati Bhavan and adjacent buildings, illuminated for the Republic Day, 2008.

What Sir Anthony Eden, the Prime Minister of Britain (April 1955 to January 1957), said at the time of the emergence of Indian Republic is relevant in this context. He said, ‘Of all the experiments in government, which have been attempted since the beginning of time, I believe that the Indian venture into parliamentary government is the most exciting. A vast subcontinent is attempting to apply to its tens and thousands of millions a system of free democracy... It is a brave thing to try to do so. The Indian venture is not a pale imitation of our practice at home, but a magnified and multiplied reproduction on a scale we have never dreamt of. If it succeeds, its influence on Asia is incalculable for good. Whatever the outcome we must honour those who attempt it.’

Even more meaningful was the opinion expressed by an American Constitutional authority, Granville Austin, who wrote that what the Indian Constituent Assembly began was ‘perhaps the greatest political venture since that originated in Philadelphia in 1787.’

"During recent years, it has become fashionable among some citizens to disparage the founders and their document. These individuals disappointed by the developments in the country since 1950, have called for changing the constitution explaining that it has not 'worked'. Such thinking, in my view, is misguided. Constitutions do not 'work', they are inert, dependent upon being 'worked' by citizens and elected and appointed leaders" -Granville Austin

Celebrations

Agni-II missile in Republic Day Parade 2004.

To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace), along the Rajpath, past the India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort. Prior to its commencement, the Prime Minister lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a memorial to soldiers who died for country at the India Gate at one end of Rajpath, which is followed by two minutes silence in the memory of soldiers who sacrified their lives for country . Thereafter he reaches the main dais at Rajpath to join other dignitaries, subsequently the President arrives along with the chief guest of the occasion. First he hoists the National flag, as theNational Anthem is played, and a 21-gun salute is given. Next, important awards like the Ashok Chakra are given away by the President, before the regiments of Indian Armed Forces start their march past.

The different regiments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of theIndian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Floats exhibiting the cultures of the various states and regions of India are in the grand parade, which is broadcast nationwide on television and radio. Also part of the parade are children who win the National Bravery Award for the year [1]. The parade also includes other vibrant displays and floats and traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Air Force jets.

Celebrations are also held in state capitals, where the Governor of the state unfurls the national flag. If the Governor of the state is unwell, or is unavailable for some reason, the Chief Minister of the state assumes the honour of unfurling the National Flag of India. A description from tajonline:

"26th January 1950 is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. In this day India became a totally republican unit. The country finally realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the numerous freedom fighters who, fought for and sacrificed their lives for the Independence of their country. So, the 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and has been recognized and celebrated as the Republic Day of India, ever since.

Today, the Republic Day is celebrated with much enthusiasm all over the country and especially in the capital, New Delhi where the celebrations start with the Presidential address to the nation. The beginning of the occasion is always a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country in the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defence of sovereignty of their country. Then, the President comes forward to award the medals of bravery to the people from the armed forces for their exceptional courage in the field and also the civilians, who have distinguished themselves by their different acts of valour in different situations.

To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, from the Rajghat, along the Vijaypath. The different regiments of the army, the Navy and the Air force march past in all their finery and official decorations even the horses of the cavalry are attractively caparisoned to suit the occasion. The crème of N.C.C cadets, selected from all over the country consider it an honour to participate in this event, as do the school children from various schools in the capital. They spend many days preparing for the event and no expense is spared to see that every detail is taken care of, from their practice for the drills, the essential props and their uniforms.

The parade is followed by a pageant of spectacular displays from the different states of the country. These moving exhibits depict scenes of activities of people in those states and the music and songs of that particular state accompany each display. Each display brings out the diversity and richness of the culture of India and the whole show lends a festive air to the occasion. The parade and the ensuing pageantry is telecast by the National Television and is watched by millions of viewers in every corner of the country.

The patriotic fervour of the people on this day brings the whole country together even in her essential diversity. Every part of the country is represented in occasion, which makes the Republic Day the most popular of all the national holidays of India."

 

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