A plunge into history: January 26 and its imprint on India's destiny

03:00 PM Jan 26, 2024 | Team Udayavani |

Republic Day, a cornerstone of Indian history, assumes special significance this year as we proudly celebrate the 75th edition of this momentous occasion.


Not many know that Republic Day in India marks two crucial events in the country’s journey towards independence and sovereignty. This article explores the importance of January 26, both in 1930 and 1950, shedding light on the lesser-known aspects of this momentous day.

Purna Swaraj and the Spirit of Independence (1930):

On January 26, 1930, the Indian National Congress made a historic proclamation known as ‘Purna Swaraj’. For the first time, INC declared complete independence from colonial rule as its officially stated goal, expressing the collective desire of a nation for freedom.

We must understand that this declaration laid the foundation for the later struggles that ultimately led to India’s independence in 1947.


Imagine the fervor of the people as they united under the call for Purna Swaraj, envisioning a free and self-governing India. This aspect of Republic Day often goes unnoticed, but it serves as a reminder of the sacrifices and determination of our forefathers.

Birth of the Indian Republic (1950):

Fast forward to January 26, 1950, and another historic moment unfolded – the day when the Constitution of India came into effect, officially replacing the Government of India Act 1935. India transformed into a republic, a sovereign state free from the shackles of the British Raj.

The adoption of the Constitution marked the culmination of years of tireless efforts by the Constituent Assembly, which held its first session on December 9, 1946, and completed its task on November 26, 1949. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, leading the Drafting Committee, played a pivotal role in shaping the constitutional framework of the nation.

Celebration of 1st Republic Day

Interestingly, the inaugural celebrations marking the birth of the Republic of India were not held at the now-famous Kartavya Path (formerly Rajpath) but took place at the 1930s-era Irwin Amphitheatre.

The first Republic Day function unfolded at Irwin Stadium, now the Irwin Amphitheatre, where India’s first President, Rajendra Prasad, was sworn in on that historic day.

According to an article published on February 4, 1950 in the Fauji Akhbar (now Sainik Samachar) titled ‘Birth of a Republic’: “At the most solemn ceremony, held in the brilliantly lit and high domes of Durbar Hall at Government House, India was declared a Sovereign Democratic Republic exactly at 18 minutes past 10 on the morning of Thursday, January 26, 1950. Six minutes later, Dr Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as president.”

“The birth of the Indian Republic and the installation of its first president were announced by a salute of 31 guns shortly after 10:30 am,” the article said.

The last Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari read out the proclamation of the Republic of “India, that is, Bharat” and retired, marking the symbolic transition. The proclamation of the Republic was followed by a salute of 31 guns, signaling India’s new status.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad then took the oath, delivering a historic speech in Hindi and English.

President Prasad’s words echoed the momentous nature of the occasion, stating, “Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history, we find the whole of this vast land brought together under the jurisdiction of one Constitution and one Union.”

The ceremonial splendor continued as the president’s procession wound through Delhi streets, symbolizing the coming-of-age of a nation. The procession featured a 35-year-old coach, specially renovated for the occasion, drawn by six sturdy Australian horses.

As the procession made its way to the Irwin Amphitheatre, chants of “jai” resonated through the streets, with people perched on trees and rooftops cheering the momentous occasion. The article reported that the drive concluded at 3:45 pm at the Amphitheatre, where a grand Ceremonial Parade unfolded.

The Irwin Amphitheatre, accommodating 15,000 people, witnessed a magnificent military parade, adorned with seven massed bands representing the armed forces and police. The feu de joie (running fire of guns) and the National Anthem marked a thunderous salute to the nation’s first president.

Celebrations at Kartavya Path:

In the present day, Republic Day is celebrated with grandeur at Kartavya Path, formerly known as Rajpath. This ceremonial boulevard witnesses the unfurling of the national flag by the President, Draupadi Murmu, marking the commencement of the festivities.

Millions of Indians, both in person and through televised broadcasts, partake in witnessing the Republic Day Parade, a spectacle that showcases the country’s rich tradition, cultural heritage, and progress. The event also includes mesmerizing airshows performed by the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force.

In conclusion, Republic Day is not merely a public holiday but a day deeply embedded in India’s history and identity. The 75th anniversary invites us to reflect on the remarkable journey from Purna Swaraj in 1930 to the establishment of the republic in 1950. As we celebrate the 75th Republic Day, let us remember the sacrifices, the resilience, and the democratic spirit that define our great nation – India, that is Bharat.

(With PTI inputs)


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