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26 January, Republic Day - a pledge to defend the freedom of India.

Date Written    :  Jan 25, 2005
Date Modified :   Jan 25, 2005

Two events are associated with India’s freedom from colonial rule. One is Independence Day (15th August) and the other, Republic Day (26th January). The former is a historical event, when India gained independence in 1947 and freed herself from the foreign rule, whereas the Jan 26 is the day when India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic with a constitution coming into effect. On Independence Day, the past is recalled whereas, on Republic Day, the pledge is renewed. Independence Day has rhetoric built in the celebration; Republic Day is without speeches.

Every year, a grand Republic day parade is held in New Delhi, India's capital city to observe the anniversary of the Indian Republic. The Government of India spends a lot of energy and resources to put up a good show and the various government agencies spend the several months planning for the event.

Republic Day is also celebrated all over the country at all the administrative units like the capital cities, district headquarters, sub divisions, talukas, and panchayats. The major ceremonies at Delhi and the state capitals revolve around the parade in which all the defence services police contingents, Home guards and Civil Defence, NCC, school children and cultural troupes participate followed by a display of tableaux and folk dances.

The celebration mood lasts for one week. It consists of the ground preparations, rehearsals, the main display and spills over to the ‘Beating of Retreat’ on January 29, a day before Martyrs Day which marks the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi.

The Indian constitution whose promulgation is celebrated is highly symbolic of the aspirations which ‘we the people of India’ cherish. It ushered in a social revolution silently by changing the status of the individual from a subject of a colonial empire to a citizen of a free country. It laid down the method of governance and established the relationship of the citizen to the state. It endeavours to secure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity and assures the dignity of the individual by conferring fundamental rights upon the citizen. With one stroke, it abolished all distinctions of status, rank, creed, colour and sex. It outlawed untouchability, an abominable social practice that had created discrimination and tensions in society.

Republic Day reminds us of the fulfillment of the pledge that was made on the midnight of Independence. It is future-oriented, a vision of India that we nourish, an acceptance of responsibility and making of promises as well as recapitulation of the achievements. The act of framing the Constitution puts a spotlight on B.R. Ambedkar whose indefatigable labour and sharp insights helped the preparation of the document. As the Minister for Law, Dr. Ambedkar placed the draft Constitution before the Constituent Assembly on 4th .November 1948. He gave satisfactory answers to many questions about the Constitution. The part of the Constitution wiping out 'untouchability' was approved on 29th November 1948. We should remember the words of Dr. Ambedkar in answer to the debate on the Indian Constitution

"India has lost her freedom only owing to treason of her own people. Raja Dahir of Sindh was defeated by Mohammad Bin Khasim. The only reason for this defeat was that the generals of the Sindh army took bribes from Khasim's men and did not fight for the King. It was Raja Jaichand of India who invited Mohammad Ghori to fight against Prithviraj. When Shivaji was fighting for the freedom of the Hindus, other Maratha leaders and Rajputs were fighting for the Mughals. When the Sikhs were fighting against the British, their leader did nothing..... Such things should not happen again; therefore, everyone must resolve to fight to the last drop of his blood, to defend the freedom of India."

So let us all take a pledge to defend the freedom of India.

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