26th January 2010- India celebrates 61st Republic Day

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Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

26th January 2010: Among the two national days observed in India, the Independence Day on 15th August and the Republic Day on 26th January every year since 1947 and 1950 respectively, the latter is of more significance as on 26th January 1950 by implementing the Constitution, India became a sovereign democratic republic. Since independence from the British rule on 15th August 1947, India still remained as a dominion with the Governor General as the Head of the State (first Lord Mountbatten and later C. Rajagoplachari) and the Prime Minister (Jawaharlal Nehru)  as the head of the government as the Constitution was still in the process of being drafted by the Constituent Assembly that was in session since 1946. The responsibility of drafting the Constitution was assigned to the Constitution Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

The Constitution  of India was finally drafted, discussed, amended and approved by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and 26th Janaury 1950 was chosen as  the day for the promulgation of the Constitution.  The choice of 26th January 1950 actually has its roots in the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress(1929). It was at this session, Jawaharlal Nehru, as the President of the Congress unfurled the tricolour flag at midnight on 31st December 1929 and took  a solemn oath that the aim  of the freedom struggle would be the achievement of ‘Complete Independence’ (Poorna Swaraj). It was decided that on 26th January every year  the ’Independence Day’ would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. The professed pledge was successfully redeemed on 26th January 1950, when the Constitution of India was implemented.

As per the Constitution of India, the President  has been designated as the Head of the State. Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of the Indian Republic. The present President is Mrs. Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of India. The Presidents  have been elected indirectly by the elected members of the Parliament for a period of five years.

While the Independence Day on 15th August every year has been observed by the Prime Minister unfurling the national flag and addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort at Delhi, the Republic Day has been observed since 1950 with much enthusiasm all over the country and especially in the capital, New Delhi where the celebrations start with the Presidential address to the nation on the previous evening. The beginning of the occasion is always a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country in the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defense of sovereignty of their country. Before the start of the Republic day parade, the President pays a visit to the memorial of the soldiers and pays respect to the fallen soldiers by laying  the wreaths of flowers at the memorial. At the Rajpath, the President unfurles the national flag and awards  the medals of bravery to the personnel 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.

Mr. Lee Myung- Bak, Mrs. Pratibha Patil

The Repubic Day has been an occasion to showcase India’s progress and achievements in different fields especially in the defence and security of the nation. To mark this occasion, a grand parade is held from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace), along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort in the old part of the city. Different infantry, cavalry and mechanized regiments of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Airforce march in formation, decked in all their finery and official decorations. The  N.C.C cadets, selected from all over the country consider it an honour to participate in this event, as do the school children from various schools in the capital.The President of India, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute during the march past. The Chief Guest of the parade is a Head of State of another nation. This year along with Mrs. Pratibha Patil, Mr. Lee Myung- Bak the President of South Korea will be the guest of honour for the Republic Day Parade.

The parade is followed by a pageant of spectacular displays from  different states of the country. These moving exhibits depict scenes of activities of people in those states and the music and songs of that particular state accompany each display. Each display brings out the diversity and richness of the culture of India and the whole show lends a festive air to the occasion. The parade and the ensuing pageantry are telecast by the National Television and are watched by millions of viewers in every corner of the country.    The patriotic fervor of the people on this day brings the whole country together even in her essential diversity. Every part of the country is represented on this occasion, which makes the Republic Day the most popular of all the national holidays of India.

This year marks the completion of sixty years of the Indian Republic.  Hence, on this occasion it would be appropriate for us to review our strength  and weaknesses as a Republic. India is the largest democracy in the world and democratic traditions and secular roots are quite strong. During these past sixty years India has made great progress in all fields, defence, space, science and technology, education, industry, transport and communication, etc. India has become self reliant in food production because of the Green Revolution and adoption of many verities of  high yielding hybrid food grains. Since the economic liberalisation introduced since 1991, India has emerged as one of the leading economic powers.

However, there are a number of factors that have been weakening the Indian Republic. The communal divide and mutual suspicion, hatred and violence in the name of religion have been weakening the foundation of  the republic. Terrorism of all kinds, separatist movements and Naxalite menance are the other factors that threaten the safety and security of the Indian Republic. Atrocities against women and downtrodden still persist. Corruption in politics and administration has reduced the efficiency of governance. Personality centric and family and caste based political parties and their unscrupulous political practices are a major threat to healthy and participative democracy. The widening gap between the rich and poor, the risisng prices, unemployment and increase in crime tends to erode the faith of the common people in the democratic way of life.

Though it seems that the list of the problems faced by the Indian Republic is longer than its achievements, it cannot be denied that in a complex society like that of India problems cannot be avoided but could be controlled by adopting policies with a foresight and administration that is efficient. In spite of the monumental challenges that the Indian republic faces, the nation will march forward as it had always done in the past.

As the Republic of India completes its sixty years let us resolve to build a new nation in our mind and heart, doing away with the communal, linguistic and casteist and religious prejudices with a renewed faith in Unity in Diversity. Improving governance, police and judicial reforms, strict enforcement of law and order, achievement of cent percent literacy, control of price rise and providing employment opportunities to the young people, the Indian Republic can progress further as a super power in the coming years. Let us preserve and build a strong India so that our future generations will remember us with gratitude that we strengthened our shoulders on which they could stand with pride and look at the world with new hope and vision. Long live the Indian Republic.


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Comments on this Article
Ranjeeta Nayar, USA Wed, January-27-2010, 7:14
Great! I have always want to be in INdia and watch it in person this great day of our nation. I am true indian who still believes "there s no place like home."
Nirmala Nayak, Ratannagar Jabalpur Tue, January-26-2010, 11:15
Fit and perfect but it was also necessary to add this , what is republic? and why this is special? because number of students not knowing this.
Thomas, Moodubelle/ Dubai Tue, January-26-2010, 11:02
Wishing you all a Happy Republic Day.
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