Republic Day (26th January; but Magha Shukla Paksha 8 as per the Hindu Almanac) : Some fascinating facts !

While India became independent, it didn’t have its own Constitution; it was a modified version of the British Constitution !

Republic Day is celebrated every year in India on 26th January to commemorate the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect in the Year 1950, and the country became a Republic.

India became independent on 15th August 1947 – but it was not a date that India had chosen for itself, rather it was thrust upon by Lord Louis Mountbatten, as it marked the second anniversary of Japan’s submission to allied powers after World War 2.

While India became independent from British Raj, it didn’t have a Constitution of its own. Indian laws were based on a modified version of the British Constitution.

A Drafting Committee with Dr BR Ambedkar as Chairman was appointed to draft a permanent Indian Constitution. Although the Constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949, it came into force on 26th January 1950 – a day chosen by Indians for it held immense significance for the country – on this day in 1929, the Indian National Congress made the well-known declaration of ‘Poorna Swaraj’ or complete self-rule. The date set for Independence was 26th January 1930, and was celebrated as ‘Poorna Swaraj’ day for the next 17 years.

Thus, when the Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November 1949, many considered it necessary to celebrate the document on a day associated with national pride – 26th January.

It took 166 days spread over 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to finish writing the Constitution.

The Indian Republic Day is celebrated all across India with lots of patriotism and fervour. At Rajpath, in New Delhi, magnificent parades by regiments of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Paramilitary forces are witnessed. India’s defence prowess is on display too, with the latest missiles, aircraft and weapon systems. Beautiful tableaus, representing the uniqueness of all the States of India are also showcased during the parade. The celebration usually ends with numerous air shows and flypasts by the Indian Forces.

The President addresses the Nation on Republic Day, while the Prime Minister addresses the country on Independence Day.

Let us look at some more unique facts.

1. The parade on 26th January takes place at Rajpath in New Delhi, but this was not the organising centre from 1950 to 1954. During these years, the parade was held at Irwin Stadium (now National Stadium), Kingsway, Red Fort and Ramleela Maidan respectively. Rajpath became the permanent venue for the parade of 26th January from 1955.

Dr Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as the first President of India on 26th January 1950 at 10.24 a.m.

2. Every year, the Prime Minister / President / or the ruler of any country is invited as a guest for the 26th January parade. The first parade held on 26th January 1950, President of Indonesia Dr Sukarno was invited as a guest. India may host leaders of 5 Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) as chief guests for Republic Day 2022.

3. There are two copies of the Indian Constitution, one in English and one in Hindi. Both are handwritten and were signed by 308 Assembly members on 24th January 1950.

Indian Constitution is the lengthiest written Constitution in the world. It has 444 articles divided into 22 parts and 12 schedules. Recently, 118 amendments were added to the Constitution.

4. The parade event on 26th January begins with the arrival of the President. First of all, the cavalier bodyguards of the President salute the National Flag, and during this time, the National Anthem is played and 21 Guns Salute is also given.

The interesting fact is that the time of Gun Salute firing matches the time at which the National Anthem is played. The first firing occurs at the start of the National Anthem and the last firing occurs right after 52 seconds.

5. All the participants in the parade get ready by 2 a.m. and arrive at the Rajpath by 3 a.m. The preparations for the parade begin in July of the previous year, where all the participants are formally informed about their participation. Till August, they practice at their related regiment centres and reach New Delhi by December. The participants have already practiced for 600 hours before performing on the 26th January formally.

6. On Republic Day, bravery awards are given to deserving candidates. Veer Chakra, Maha Veer Chakra, Param Veer Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Ashoka Chakra are distributed during the celebrations.

(Compiled by Dr Ajay Joshi, Ponda, Goa)

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