“We are Indians, firstly and lastly.” — B. R. Ambedkar
We have been celebrating Republic Day ( also known as ‘Ganatantra Divas’) for as long as we can remember, to be exact we have been celebrating being Indian for 67 years. A few years back this day was of not so much importance to me, I would watch the parade on television and eat good food with my family alongside casual chats. What is the significance of this day, most of us know, but it’s ironic that the very same document which protects us from several threats whether they are of foreign origin or from within our country, which makes our nation a Republic and bestows so many rights and powers on its citizens and simultaneously keeps the powers of politicians and leader’s in check and makes them answerable to us at least once every five-year; is no longer given its due respect. We see our constitution printed on the covers of the school books but it is never read, unless someone needs to appear patriotic or it is a part of their syllabus.
Whatever we are, it is directly or indirectly a result of the constitution we have .
Our constitution was empowered on 26th January, 1950 quite some time after we got independence i.e. 15th August, 1947. Once our nation was free of colonial rule there was another question at hand, how will our nation work, what will be the nature of government. It was then decided that a written constitution would be the best option, to standardise the functionality of government or the various parts of government and to achieve a dream of the nation where no one would sleep empty stomach or be naked in the coldest winter nights. The dream is yet far from completion but still I believe that it will be fulfilled soon.
Now let me put down a timeline for you showing how our constitution came into being :
- 15th August, 1947 : We got independent.
- 28th August, 1947 : A committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution with Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar as the chairman.
- 4 November, 1947 : The committee had submitted the first draft of the constitution.
- 24th January, 1950 : An Assembly of 308 members agreed upon the final draft on constitution and signed on two copies of the constitution ( one in English and one in hindi ).
- 26th January, 1950 : The constitution was empowered throughout the nation and our nation became a Republic.
The process of making the constitution stretched over a period of 2 years 11 month and 18 days in the assembly, met on 166 days in sessions which were open to all public.
26th January was selected for a reason and not just randomly. On 26th January 1930 declaration of Indian Independence or ‘purna swaraj’ was proclaimed and this day was celebrated for 17 years but we got independence on 15 August, to this Ramachandra Guha had said :
Freedom finally came on the day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiments.
So to respond to the feelings of the people the constitution was empowered on this day. When I am writing about Republic Day how can I skip the Republic Day parade, where the armed forces march on the rajpath and salute the president ( head of the state, the first citizen of India and Commander in chief of armed forces) and display of tanks, fighter planes, weapons and the diverse culture of our nation. Another event which we should never forget is when medals are given the bravest of us and to the family of those who gave ultimate sacrifice to the save their nation and us, we should always pay our respect to these patriotic men.
Image courtesy: Parade, Constitution of India, Republic Day
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