Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Republic Day of India

The Republic Day of the 'Union of India' commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force replacing the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India on 26 January 1950. Every year on the 26th of January the annual parade to celebrate the event is held over the Raj Path and will continue to be held over the Raj Path for generations to come. In this edition of Delhi-iteful Tuesdays we visit this stretch of road which is used to display the strength and diversity of the Republic of India.

The 26th of January was chosen to honor the memory of the declaration of independence of 1930 by Jawaharlal Nehru (Purna Swaraj). It is one of the three national holidays in India. While the main parade takes place in the national capital New Delhi at the Raj path before the president, the anniversary is also celebrated with varying degrees of formality in state capitals and other centers.

Raj Path or the Kings Way is the road in New Delhi where the annual parade to celebrate the republic day is held. The road stretches from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to the India Gate.

While India became independent on 15th August 1947 the country did not have a constitution of its own. The country's laws were based over the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935, and the country was a Dominion, with George VI as head of state and Earl Mountbatten as the Governor General. On 28 August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as chairman. While India's Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British Rule, the Republic Day celebrates the coming into effect of its constitution.

A view of the Raj Path from the Rashtrapati Bhawan end. The road has been made extra tough to bear the weight of the multiple tanks which roll over it during the parade.

A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on 4 November 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English). The Constitution of India was passed on 26 November 1949, 10.18 AM IST, signed by the members on 24th January and came into effect completely on 26 January 1950. Following elections on 21 January 1950, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India. The Indian National Congress and other parties had been celebrating 26 January as a symbol of Independence, even before India actually became independent. Thus, applying the constitution on 26 January, to mark and respect 26 January and the freedom struggle and the freedom fighters.

The Raj Path is bisected by four roads namely the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Marg, Janpath, Mansingh Road and the India Gate C hexagon.

The Raj Path as seen in the night from the India Gate End. Observe the illuminated dome of the Rashtrapati Bhawan

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