Republic Day is a public holiday in India where the country marks and celebrates the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950. This replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India, thus turning the nation into a republic separate from British Raj.
The constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950. 26 January was chosen as the date for Republic Day as it was on that day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress.
India achieved independence from the British Raj on 15 August 1947 following the Indian independence movement.
The independence came through the Indian Independence Act 1947 (10 & 11 Geo 6 c 30), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth (later Commonwealth of Nations).
India obtained its independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as head of state and the Earl Mountbatten as governor-general.
The country, though, did not yet have a permanent constitution; instead its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935.
On 29 August 1947, a resolution was moved for the appointment of Drafting Committee, which was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr B R Ambedkar as chairman.
While India’s Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British Rule, the Republic Day celebrates the coming into force of its constitution.
A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Constituent Assembly on 4 November 1947.
The Assembly met for 166 days in public sessions spanning two years, 11 months, and 18 days before adopting the Constitution.
The 308 members of the Assembly signed two handwritten copies of the document (one in Hindi and one in English) on 24 January 1950, after much deliberation and some changes.
Two days later which was on 26 January 1950, it came into effect throughout the whole nation.
On that day, Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s began his first term of office as President of the Indian Union.
The Constituent Assembly became the Parliament of India under the transitional provisions of the new Constitution.
On the eve of Republic Day, the President addresses the nation.
On November 25, 1949, in his final speech to the Constituent Assembly, Dr B R Ambedkar remarked about the potential and pitfalls of life after January 26, 1950,
On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions.
In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality.
In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.
In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.
How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?
If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril.
We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up.
The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India.
On this day, ceremonious parades take place at the Rajpath, which are performed as a tribute to India; its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage.
On the eve of Republic Day, the President of India distributes Padma Awards to the civilians of India every year.
These are the second highest civilian awards in India after Bharat Ratna. These awards are given in three categories, viz. Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
The decoration comprises a sanad (Certificate) issued under the hand and seal of the President and a Medallion.
The recipients are also given a replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if they desire.
A commemorative brochure giving out brief details in respect of each award winner is also released on the day of the investiture ceremony.