– By : Dr Farukkh Khan
n January 26, 1950 India declared itself a Republic. It was the day when India adopted its constitution, replacing the Government of India Act 1935. Now, India was no more a British Dominion.
The occasion was to be celebrated in passion that may convey a message to the world community. “India is now a sovereign nation and its people now govern themselves, ending a long spell of a colonial rule”, was the message.
Idea of Republic Day Parade
Consultations were held and committees were made to draft the composition and list of programmes. It was JawaharLalNehru, who wanted a display of India’s military might on the occasion. It may be due to the memories of India-Pakistan war and recently concluded integration process of Indian states. Some of the states had not joined India willingly and there may be some remaining discontent among them. Though, India wasn’t the first country to hold such a parade. Many countries around the world organise such events.
The First Parade
The first Republic Day Parade was held on 26 January 1950 with a grand vision. President of Indonesia Sukarno was made the chief guest. Again, the decision to invite Sukarno had a Nehru stamp on it. Sukarno was his friend and both shared the history of struggle against imperialism.
The first Republic Day of free India was celebrated at Arwin Amphitheatre, the present day Major Dhyanchand Stadium. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President hoisted the Tricolour. As the President declared India a Republic, 31-gun salute was given.
Finally, the parade started with military bands playing the beats. As parade marched from Arwin Amphitheatre to Red Fort, a huge crowd gathered to catch its glimpse. Around 100 Aircrafts like Harvards, Dakotas, Consolidated B-24 Liberators, Hawker Tempest, Spitfires and Jets flew over the parade.
Why January, 26?
Why 26 January was opted to commemorate the Republic day? This date has an interesting history. On January 26,1929 at its Lahore session, the Indian National Congress passed the historic resolution for the ‘PurnaSwaraj’ – (total independence). Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the then president of Congress Party unfurled the Tricolour on 31 December 1929 on the banks of Ravi river, in Lahore.
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On the day, it was announced that the upcoming January 26, 1930 will be celebrated as Independence Day. When the day came, Indians rushed to the streets with flag in their hands, defying the restrictions imposed by the colonial rulers. India got its freedom on August 15, 1947. The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949, but it was brought into effect from January 26, 1950. It was the 20th anniversary of the declaration of ‘Purna Swaraj’, the demand first made by Maulana Hasrat Mohani, long ago in 1921.
Importance of Republic Day parade
The Day is not only to commemorate the adoption of a Constitution or declaring India a Republic. The day is also designated to pay tributes to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country. On this day, every year bravery awards to military persons, citizenry and children for showing courage in the face of adversity are given. The Prime Minister of India lays a wreath at the Amar JawanJyoti at India Gate, before the parade starts. The parade begins with winners of gallantry awards saluting the President, followed by the military hardware. All these have a significance.
Relevance in Present times
Coming to the present, every year, we Indians rejoice Republic Day with great enthusiasm and enormous amount is spent on the celebration. However, nowadays, Republic Day has turned out to be solely a holiday to a greater part of us. We are not concerned about the day apart from the fact it’s a holiday and an opportunity to relax and enjoy. The importance of the Day cannot be ignored. The States take opportunity to exhibit its defense power to the masses. The best possible method of serving the nation today is spreading peace and harmony. At present, the country is dealing with innumerable problems and as accountable citizens of this country, we must take this rather sternly step and strive to unmask a solution to it; only then shall we be able to make our country ideal and prosperous. The foremost cause behind this problem is lack of the national pride in us. So let us make a resolution that, ‘from today onwards, every action on my part will be such that it will awaken the sense of patriotism in me as well as all those around me.’