Is Republic Day as important as Independence Day?

Today, though remembered by most of us as simply a holiday, has more importance in the history of India than we can imagine. On this day in 1930, the Indian freedom fighters decided to ask for not just a dominion status for India but for complete independence. On this day, in 1950, we discarded monarchy and became a democracy. This day gave us the power to elect our own representatives to run the democracy. Today is the day, when many moons ago, India was declared a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic and the Constitution assured the citizens of India justice, equality and liberty.

Up until 26th January, 1950, even though we were independent we were still a constitutional monarchy under King George VI. We still did not have the rights to elect our leaders to run the country. Laws that ruled the land were still based on the colonial Government of India Act of 1935. It was only on this day 70 years ago, our constitution was adopted and we turned into a democracy with our own set of laws.

After independence, a drafting committee headed by Dr. B.R Ambedkar was formed with the sole purpose to define the legal systems and laws for an intricate, one of a kind society. The committee worked vigorously for months. On 4th November 1947, they submitted the first draft of the Constitution to the Assembly, which took over two years to be adopted as the Constitution.

Indian Constitution was formed and agreed upon on November 26, 1949. So have you ever wondered why 26th January came to be our Republic day? This story spans to 2 decades before the year of adoption of the constitution and 9 decades before this day.

Before 1927, all India asked from Britian was for a dominion status (i.e. status of an autonomous community within the British Empire). However, in 1927, when Bhagat Singh and a few other freedom fighters came up with the concept of ‘Purna Swaraj’ i.e. ‘complete freedom, it captured the attention and interest of the leading freedom fighters like Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1928, the Britishers rejected the Indian National Congress’ proposal of Dominion status by stating that India was incapable for the Dominion Status. Angered, in 1929 during the Lahore session, Congress, who then chose Jawaharlal Nehru as the President, demanded for Purna Swaraj i.e. complete independence. To celebrate the occasion, last Sunday of January (which surprisingly fell on 26th) was decided as the date to celebrate the day as ‘Purna Swaraj’ date. Hence, when the constitution was agreed upon, in the memory of the freedom fighters and their efforts, 26th January was designated as the day on which the constitution of India would be adopted and would go on to be celebrated as the Republic Day of India.

Today, 26th January, is as important as 15th August since it is not only the day on which the base for our independence was established, but it is also the day on which the base for the future of India was set.

Coming to the constitution itself, like most of us have been taught early in school, all of us as Indian citizens have, in addition to the right to choose our own government, also fundamental rights and duties. While our rights are talked and debated everyday leading to coining of new twitter terms, what we really forget to focus on are our duties as a citizen of the proud nation of India.

As is said by Uncle Ben from Spiderman, “With great powers come great responsibilities.” While all of us want to enjoy the powers, none of us gives a second thought to the responsibilities. So on this Republic Day, lets remember our duties and responsibilities.

As a citizen of the country, we are obligated to do the following for our country:

1. To oblige with the Indian Constitution and respect the National Anthem and Flag.

2. To cherish and follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom.

3. To protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India.

4. To defend the country and perform national services if and when the country requires.

5. To promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood amongst all people of India and renounce any practices that are derogatory to women.

6. To cherish and preserve the rich national heritage of our composite culture.

7. To protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, etc.

8. To develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of enquiry.

9. To safeguard all public property.

10. To strive towards excellence in all genres of individual and collective activities.

11. To provide opportunities of education to the children between 6–14 years of age, and parents to ensure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child. (added in 2002)

To respect the national flag and national anthem is not a choice, but a duty. So, next time if someone is reprimanded for not standing during the national anthem played during a movie, instead of creating a ruckus, remind yourself, that had you been a part of a communist nation, you would have been jailed for your failure to abide by your duty.

Let us all integrate such aspects in our life, so as to put nation above the state, so as to become what we should have been since 1947 — united in our diversity. Let not just the nation work for us, but also let us work for the nation. Let us stop being children who only enjoy rights. Let us become adults who are as responsible as they are free.

Jai Hind!

A CA by education, a legal advisor by profession, a writer and world traveller by passion and an iconoclast by heart. Author of Aranya & Falling For You.

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