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For the people

The Prime Minister addresses the country from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi on january 26.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

“I feel that the Constitution is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peacetime and in wartime.”

This is what Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, said at the end of the debates on the draft of the Constitution. Did you know how long the discussions took? Almost three years; two years, 11 months and 18 days exactly. But creating the draft itself took only two months (from August 28 to November 5, 1947).

Why did we need a Drafting Committee? Because when India became independent on August 15, 1947, its laws were still based on those of the colonial government. The country needed a permanent constitution.

Members of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India (Sitting from left) N. Madhava Rao; Saiyid Muhammad Saadulla; Dr. B.R. Ambedkar; Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar and Sir B.N. Rao (Standing from left) S.N. Mukerjee, Jugal Kishore Khanna and Kewal Krishan, in New Delhi.

Members of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India (Sitting from left) N. Madhava Rao; Saiyid Muhammad Saadulla; Dr. B.R. Ambedkar; Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar and Sir B.N. Rao (Standing from left) S.N. Mukerjee, Jugal Kishore Khanna and Kewal Krishan, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: V. V. KRISHNAN

Members of the Drafting Committee
  • Chairman: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
  • Members: Pt G.B. Pant, K.M. Munshi, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, N. Gopalswami Ayengar, B.L. Mitter, Md Saadullah, and D.P. Khaitan. Sir Benegal Narsing Rao (later the first Indian judge at the International Court of Justice) was the advisor to the committee. When B.L. Mitter resigned, Madhav Rao replaced him. D.P. Khaitan died in 1948 and T.T. Krishnamachari took his place.

Once the draft was submitted, there were multiple discussions on what it should contain in the Constituent Assembly, and all these deliberations were open to the public. That meant anyone could go to the hall and listen.

Finally official

On January 24, 1950, the final draft was official. Two copies were made – handwritten in English and Hindi – signed by all the 308 members of the Constituent Assembly. These copies are still preserved in Parliament House and you can see the digitised version at https://www.wdl.org/en/item/2672/

On January 26, 1950, the Constitution came into effect, making India a Republic. Therefore, this date is celebrated as Republic Day every year. Why January 26? Because, back in 1930, this was the date when the leaders of the freedom struggle called for Purna Swaraj or Complete Independence.

Apart from laying down the rights and duties of the citizens, the Constitution also explains the political principles that govern the country and the rules and regulations under which the executive, judiciary and legislature should function.

How it is celebrated

On Republic Day, the Prime Minister addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and this is followed by a parade that showcases India’s military and cultural power. Apart from the march past by the armed forces, tableaux representing the various states float down the Rajpath. The celebrations end on January 29, with Beating the Retreat, when bands from all three wings of the armed forces perform. Similar celebrations take place across all State capitals as well.

This is a day to affirm that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic that assures its citizens justice, equality and liberty.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 5:49:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/looking-back-at-indias-journey-to-becoming-a-republic/article33606734.ece

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