When India became Republic...

Proud to be citizens of India we are celebrating our 61 ST Republic Day this year. This day is one of the greatest national celebrations observed throughout the country on 26 January every year since India became Republic on the 26 January 1950.

After over 100 years of British rule the country became a sovereign democratic republic with a written constitution and an elected parliament.

On 26 January 1950, a public holiday was declared throughout the country, and millions of people celebrated with processions and ceremonies to hoist the new flag of India for the first time ever.

Although India had been running her own affairs since the actual transfer of power from British to Indian hands on 15 August 1947, there were still 565 Princely States, big and small, ruled by powerful sovereigns protected by treaties of alliance with the British Crown. Without bringing them together, the fundamental unity of the country was not possible.

This unification was accomplished by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose statesmanship helped to integrate the country into one nation.

In a little less than 2 years, all the princely States became a part of the Republic of India. The historic session of the Constituent assembly was held at the Central Hall of the Parliamentary House on 26 November 1949, when the Constitution of India was passed.

The Constituent assembly elected Dr Rajendra Prasad as President of the Indian Republic at a special session on 24 January 1950, in accordance with the Constitution. Amidst rejoicings, fanfare of trumpets and booming of guns India cut her last ties to Britain on 26 January 1950. India’s first president was sworn in, replacing the King as the country’s head of state, and the new constitution endorsed.

The greatest day of India’s history began with the 34th and last Governor-General of India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, reading out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India. He said, “From 26th January 1950, India, this is, Bharat, shall be a Sovereign Democratic Republic”.

It was the proudest day for the whole nation. The outgoing Governor General, C. Rajagopalachari, our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, beaming with pride and joy, the Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel, the Iron-man of India, Cabinet Ministers, Judges of the Supreme Court and the Auditor-General of India, were all assembled inside the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan including President Sukarno of the Indonesian Republic, his wife and several members of the Diplomatic corps, members of the Constituent Assembly and prominent citizens to witness this biggest national ceremony of the 20th century.

It was a remarkable occasion when free India’s first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, was administered the oath of his office by The Chief Justice of India, Sir Hiralal Kania.

Pandit Nehru and his other Cabinet colleagues were sworn-in soon after. G.V. Mavalankar became the first Speaker of Lok Sabha.

For the first time at Darbar Hall, the national emblem of Ashoka Pillar with three lions was placed near the throne where in the past the British Viceroys used to sit. Also for the first time a smiling statute of Lord Buddha was placed behind the throne.

The President then addressed the crowd first in Hindi, and then in English. "Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history," he remarked, "we find the whole of this vast land... brought together under the jurisdiction of one constitution and one union which takes over responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women who inhabit it."

Nanthini Dominique

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