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Why Republic Day is celebrated. Know its significance and history

On January 26, 2020, India is celebrating its 71st Republic Day. The event is marked by national flag hoisting, the parade of Defence and paramilitary forces, some traditional performances, the exhibition of various tableaux and honouring brave-hearts of the country.

Madhu L Madhu L
New Delhi Updated on: January 26, 2020 10:48 IST
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India's first Republic Day was celebrated on January 26, 1950.

On January 26, 2020, India is celebrating its 71st Republic Day. The event is marked by national flag hoisting, the parade of Defence and paramilitary forces, some traditional performances, the exhibition of various tableaux and honouring brave-hearts of the country. The day is not only observed as a national holiday but it also has a big significance as it was on January 26, 1950, the Indian Constitution came into effect. 

It is the Constitution of India that makes our country a sovereign, secular and democratic nation. Being the longest in the world, it took almost three years for our great leaders to frame the Indian Constitution.

Why India celebrates Republic Day on January 26?

The Congress party passed a resolution demanding purna swaraj on the last Sunday of January 1930, which fell on January 26, as Independence Day. They decided to mark this day with the by hoisting flag all over India and spending the remaining day on constructive work as per Mahatma Gandhi's agenda, such as spinning charkha, "service to the untouchables" and "reunion" of Hindus and Muslims.

In Jawaharlal Nehru's autobiography, he wrote, "Independence Day came, January 26th, 1930, and it revealed to us, in a flash, the earnest and enthusiastic mood of the country. There was something vastly impressive about the great gatherings everywhere, peacefully and solemnly taking the pledge of independence without any speeches or exhortation."

India celebrated Independence Day on January 26 after 1930 till 1947

Even when India was a British dominion and owed formal allegiance to the British Crown, India used to celebrate its Independence January 26 till 1947. After Independence, the Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949, and January 26, 1950, was the date chosen to become a sovereign republic. 

The first Indian Republic Day celebration

As per the Fauji Akhbar report on February 4, 1950, India was declared the Sovereign Democratic Republic exactly at 18 minutes past 10 on the morning of Thursday, January 26, 1950. Six minutes later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as the President.

The retiring Governor-General, C Rajagopalachari, read out the proclamation of the Republic of India: “Now, therefore, it is hereby proclaimed that from this, the 26th day of January 1950, India, that is Bharat, shall be the Sovereign Democratic Republic, and the Union and its component units, the States, shall exercise all powers and functions of government and administration in accordance with the provisions of the said Constitution.”

“The state drive started exactly at 2.30 pm. The 35- year-old coach, specially renovated for the occasion, bearing the new emblem of Ashoka’s capital and drawn by six sturdy Australian horses, carried the President and drove out of the Government House at a slow trot, escorted by the President’s bodyguard,” Fauji Akhbar reported.

As many as 15,000 people watched one of the most magnificent military parades where 3,000 officers and men of the three armed services of India and the police with massed bands had taken positions for the ceremonial parade.

Who was the first chief guest at Indian Republic Day celebration 1930?

India's first Republic Day was graced by Indonesian president Sukarno. 

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