India celebrates January 26th every year as her Republic Day to mark the date when the Constitution of India came into force. The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, and came into effect on January 26, 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic. January 26th was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.
The Indian Constitution
Through the Indian Independence Act 1947 (10 & 11 Geo 6 c 30), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom India obtained its independence on August 15, 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 August 28, 1947, the Drafting Committee 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 Assembly on November 4, 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of two 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) on January 24, 1950. Two days later, it came into effect throughout the whole nation. January 26, 1950 was the day the Indian Independence Act was consequently repealed and India was established as a democratic republic, no longer a dominion of the British Crown.
The original Constitution of India was not a printed document. It was entirely handcrafted by the artists of Shantiniketan under the guidance of Acharya Nandalal Bose, with the calligraphy texts done by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in Delhi. This document is now preserved in a special helium-filled case in the library of the Parliament of India.
Unfurling of the National Flag
On every Republic Day, the national flag is unfurled at every public office and institution in India followed by singing of the national anthem. We have been observing these days since our school days. It’s really a proud moment for every Indian.
Like every year, the Republic Day is celebrated at the Indian Embassy in Baghdad. I received their invitations by email and phone several days ago. I attended the flag-unfurling ceremony organised by the embassy at the residence of the Indian Ambassador to mark the celebration of the 68th Republic Day. The Indian Tricolour was unfurled by the chargé d’affaires. Several other Indians in Baghdad also arrived there for the flag hoisting ceremony.
After unfurling of flag accompanied by singing of national anthem — Jana-Gana-Mana, Mr. Bharath Kumar, the chargé d’affaires, read the President’s address to the nation on the eve of the Republic Day and a small powerpoint on Indian embassy’s activities in Iraq was presented to all the attendees. It was followed by snacks — Falafel, pakodi, samosa, chana, bakhlawa and gulaab jamun.
Remember you, Maa
The evening of the Republic Day is a very sad moment for me. As the dusk was settling down on the city of Jamshedpur 12 years ago, my mother left us and went on her journey to her eternal abode. I still feel as if it was yesterday. I returned from my bank after hoisting the national flag. It was like any other Republic Day. She started feeling uncomfortable in the afternoon. I called a doctor he prescribed some medicine and rest for her. But, her discomfort was increasing. She was vomiting. We rushed her to the Tata Memorial Hospital. The doctors at the Emergency ward recommended admittance for her checkup and treatment. As I was completing the formalities and made payments she passed away. She suffered a heart attack. I feel very sad that we couldn’t do anything to save her as the time ran out so fast. I always remember you, Maa and miss you very much. Her words, actions, kindness, and love continue to influence and inspire me today. She did so much for her family, friends and neighbours. What I am today is because of the values that I learned from my parents. I love you very much, Maa.