India obtained its Independence on 15th August 1947. The country, though, did not have a permanent constitution; its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935. On 28th August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr. B.R.Ambedkar as Chairman. While India’s Independence Day celebrates its Freedom from British Rule, the REPUBLIC DAY celebrates of coming into force of its Constitution. A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted the same to the Assembly on 4th November 1947. The Assembly held its sessions for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many consultations and modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed the two hand written copies of the document on 24th January 1950. Two days later, i.e. on 26th January 1950, it came into effect throughout the Nation. The Indian Constitution included 395 Articles and 8 schedules. Currently the Indian Constitution contains 448 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 97 Amendments. The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest Constitution in the World.
The main Republic Day Celebrations is held in the National Capital, New Delhi at the Rajpath before The President of India. It begins from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, goes along the Rajpath and past the India Gate and on to the Historic Red Fort. Prior to its commencement, the Prime Minister of India lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyothi, a memorial to the soldiers who have laid down their life for the Nation. This is followed by two minutes of silence in memory of the martyrs. Thereafter, the Prime Minister of India reaches the main dais at the Rajpath to join other dignitaries. Subsequently the President of India arrives along with Chief Guest of the occasion. They are escorted on horseback by the President’s Bodyguard. The President of India unfurls the National flag, as the National Anthem is played, and a 21-gun salute is given as the National Salute. Next, important awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are given away by the President, before the regiments of Armed Forces start their march past. 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. Children who receive the National Bravery Award ride past the spectators on colorfully decorated elephants or vehicles.
The different regiments of the Army, 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 the Armed Forces takes the Salute. Patriotic songs are played and there are cultural performances done by students and professionals.
In many schools, colleges and Government Organizations, the National Flag is hoisted early in the morning followed by the cultural programmes.
In the States, the Governors take the Salute from the State Armed Forces and Cultural performances are given by many students and professionals.
The Republic Day celebrations have rightly become world famous as one of the greatest shows on earth drawing thousands of eager people from all over the country and many parts of the world. No other country can draw on such a wealth of tribal traditions and cultures, with so many regional forms of dances and dress. No other country in the world can parade so many ethnically different people in splendid uniforms as India's Armed Forces. But they are all united in their proven loyalty to the Government, elected by the people and in their proud traditions and legendary gallantry.
The Republic Day celebration ends officially with the Beating the Retreat ceremony, which is held on the 29th January every year. The event symbolizes retreat after a day on the battlefield and features remarkable performances by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and the Indian Army.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT REPUBLIC DAY
• On this day, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of Republic India.
• The first Republic Day parade also took place on January 26, 1950.
• The then Indonesian President Sukarno was the first Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade in 1950.
• The word ‘Royal’ was dropped from Royal Air Force and it became Indian Air Force on this day.
• More than 100 aircraft from the Indian Air Force flew past the parade. Harvards, Dakotas, Liberators, Tempests, Spitfires and Jet planes participated in the fly past.
• Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation on the radio on the eve of the first Republic Day.
• The Lion head from Ashoka Pillar in Saranath was formally adopted as the National Emblem on this day.
• The peacock was declared as the National Bird on this day in 1963.