Republic Day

Republic Day is a national holiday in India that commemorates the date on which the Indian Constitution took effect on January 26th, 1950, succeeding the Government of India Act, 1935 as the nation’s governing document and transforming the country into a newly constituted republic. The switchover of India from an independent Commonwealth realm with the British Monarch as the nominal head of the Indian Dominion to a completely sovereign republic inside the Commonwealth of Nations having the President of India as the nominal head of the Indian Union is also commemorated on this day.

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History of Republic Day of India

After the Indian independence struggle, India gained independence from the British Raj on August 15th, 1947. The Indian Independence Act of 1947, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, partitioned British India into two new sovereign Dominions within the British Commonwealth (later Commonwealth of Nations). India became a constitutional monarchy on August 15th, 1947, with George VI as head of the state and Earl Mountbatten being the governor-general. However, the nation lacked a permanent constitution, and its laws were based on the colonial Government of India Act 1935, which had been altered.

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On August 29th, 1947, a motion was introduced calling for the formation of a Drafting Committee to design a permanent constitution, with Dr. B R Ambedkar as its chairman. While India’s Independence Day commemorates the country’s independence from British rule, the Republic Day commemorates the country’s constitution’s entry into force. The committee drafted a constitution and submitted it to the Constituent Assembly on November 4th, 1947. Before adopting the Constitution, the Assembly met for about 166 days in public sessions lasting 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days. After extensive deliberation and some amendments, the 308 members of the Constituent Assembly signed two handwritten versions of the document (one in Hindi and one in English) on January 24th, 1950.

It went into force two days later, on January 26th, 1950, across the entire country. Dr. Rajendra Prasad began his first tenure as President of the Indian Union on that day. Under the new Constitution’s transitional provisions, the Constituent Assembly became the Indian Parliament. The President addresses the country on the eve of Republic Day.

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Reasons for Choosing 26th January as Republic Day

At its Lahore session on December 19th, 1929, the Indian National Congress issued a historic resolution of “Purna Swaraj,” or complete self-rule. The Congress party declared that the Indians would celebrate “Independence Day” on January 26th, 1930. On the riverbank of the Ravi river in Lahore, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, President of the Congress Party, unfurled the tricolour. For the next 17 years, this day was known as Poorna Swaraj Day. When the Indian Constitution was adopted on November 26th, 1949, many people thought it was important to commemorate and enforce the document on January 26th, a day associated with national pride.

Celebrations of Republic Day

The republic day celebrations are majorly divided into three parts i.e. the Republic Day Parade, the Beating Retreat, and the Award Distributions.

Delhi Republic Day Parade

The Ministry of Defence organises the Republic Day parade in the Indian capital, New Delhi. This three-day event starts from the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s house) gates to Raisina Hill on Rajpath via the India Gate and is the big draw of India’s Republic Day celebrations. The parade celebrates India’s military might, as well as its social and cultural heritage. In all their finery and formal decorations, 9 to 12 separate regiments of the Indian Army, as well as the Navy and Air Force, march past. The salute is taken by the President of India, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Indian Military Forces. This parade also includes 12 contingents of India’s paramilitary forces and police forces.

Beating Retreat

After the official end of Republic Day celebrations, the Beating Retreat ceremony is held. It takes place on the eve of January 29th, the third day following Republic Day. It is played by the bands of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, which represent the three branches of the military. Raisina Hill and Vijay Chowk, a nearby area flanked by the North and South blocks of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Residence) towards the end of Rajpath, are the locations.

Award Distribution

Every year on the evening of Republic Day, the Indian President bestows Padma Awards on Indian civilians. After the Bharat Ratna, these are India’s second highest civilian honours. In decreasing order of importance, these honours are granted in three categories: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri.

  • Padma Vibhushan: for “distinguished and excellent service” The Padma Vibhushan is India’s second highest civilian honour.
  • Padma Bhushan: for “distinguished high-level service”. The Padma Bhushan is India’s third highest civilian honour.
  • Padma Shri: in recognition of “distinguished service”. Padma Shri is India’s fourth highest civilian honour.

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