Greetings to all on the 69th Republic Day of India! We have come a long way from 1950 when we declared ourselves a Republic state. Republic is a word originating from the Latin word ‘res publica’, meaning that the state is a public matter and that the head of the state is not a monarch.
This History of the Republic Day of India
This Republic Day is special. It will be the first time that 10 great leaders of ASEAN countries would grace the occasion. This is a special occasion as the Southeast Asian bloc completed 50 years of a formation while India has completed 25 years of partnership with Asean. As celebrations take place in New Delhi at the Rajpath in the presence of the President of India, mini celebrations take place in the state capitals in the presence of the governor of the state by spreading the Tricolour.
The Awards Distributed
The military parade on every Republic Day held at Rajghat is a majestic sight. Participants from all three defense forces- the Army, Air Force, Navy along with the traditional dance group takes part in the parades. The military salute is taken by the President of India during the parade. Republic Day also marks the distribution of the National awards (Maha Veer Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Param Veer Chakra, Veer Chakra) and bravery medals to the soldiers of armed forces, common people and students from the school. Another sight one should not miss is the motorcycle rides of the armed forces and the tricolor formation using smoke by the Indian Air Force.
India’s Republic Day Parade in New Delhi is considered to be the most spectacular regular parade in the world. It consists of around 25 marching and mounted contingents, numerous military vehicles, around 20 military bands, 30 aircrafts that add to cultural performers and over 1200 school children What makes the parade more popular is that each part of the country is represented in the parade.
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The Beating Retreat
The Republic Day festivities end with the Beating Retreat ceremony that is held on the evening of 29 January, the third day after the Republic Day. The chief guest for the Beating Retreat is the President of India. Bands of all the three defense wings are a part of this ceremony. The venue is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the north and south block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan towards the end of Rajpath. Army Regiments apart from the bands from the Navy and the Air Force take part which play popular tunes like ‘Abide With Me’, Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite hymn, and ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha’ at the end. The President’s Body Guards give a National Salute followed by playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana.
From Independence to Republic
This Republic Day let us take a look at the journey of India’s Independence to the Republic Day.
India, though independent on 15th August 1947, did not have its own constitution at that time. It was ‘A Dominion under the British Crown’. It remained so even after independence and the government ran as per the ‘Government of India Act 1935’ till it had a constitution of its own. The newly formed government, with the daunting task of preparing the constitution set up a Constitution Committee under the chairmanship of President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Dr. B R Ambedkar became the chairman of the Drafting Committee.
While the Congress was in favor of the Dominion status, revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev were demanding ‘Total Independence’ which inspired Nehru and others in the Congress. Incidentally, from 26th January 1930, the Indian National Congress had started celebrating 26th Jan as the Independence Day. This was the day when the ‘Declaration of Independence’ was for the first time promulgated. The Congress passed a resolution –‘Purna Swaraj’ or Total Independence. Hence the Republic Day is celebrated on 26th Jan.
Since we got formal independence on 15th August ’47, 26th January became the Republic Day. During the initial 4 years, from 1950 to 1954, the Republic Day celebration had varied venues. Namely- Irwin Stadium, Kingsway, Red Fort and the famous Ramlila Maidan. It was in 1955 after the parade at Rajpath that the venue was finalized. Malik Gulam Mohammed, the first Governor General of Pakistan was the chief guest at this event.
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Rising from the Ashes
For a country having been looted by colonial powers for around two centuries, it has been a rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Agriculture was the backbone of our country since time unknown, and even today the country relies profoundly on agriculture. A hard fact is that though we have come up with some innovative and modern ways of farming, our agriculture sector and our farmers remain tantamount to poverty.
Industrialization has played a key role. India, prior to Independence, has been an agriculture-based country. This is largely true even today. The decades after 1950 have witnessed a rise in the private sector of India. There have been sweeping changes and we have seen a rise in the technology. From once a technology deprived nation, we have moved up the ranks to have some of the best defense technologies in a span of just five decades. With the Green and White Revolution, we have increased our agriculture and milk production. We have done considerably well in the areas of mining and other energy exploits. With the atomic tests in 1974 and then in 1999, we have taken steps and progressed on the path of development. India’s development since independence has altered it into an industrial, democratic country at the vanguard of becoming a giant global power.
Republic Day symbolizes the true spirit of independent India where we live as a multicultural and independent country. Republic Day is an important event in the history of India. A day, we all should be proud of. Today, let’s spare a moment and salute to our grand nation and its constitution.