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Monday, January 26, 2015

celebrating Indian Republic Day ~ a Great Day for the Nation

65  years back, a salute of 21 guns and the unfurling of the Indian National flag by Dr. Rajendra Prasad heralded the historic birth of the Indian Republic on January 26, 1950; that significant day was  894 days after our country became a dominion following withdrawal of British Rule. Since then, every year the day is celebrated with great pride and happiness all over the nation. The transition of India from a British colony to a sovereign, secular, and democratic nation was indeed historical. It was a long journey of around two decades that started with the conceptualisation of the dream in 1930 to its actual realization in 1950.

The seeds of a republican nation were sowed at the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress at the midnight of 31st December 1929. Those present in the meeting took a pledge to mark January 26 as "Independence Day" in order to march towards realizing the dream of complete independence from the British. The Lahore Session paved way to the Civil Disobedience movement. It was decided that January 26, 1930 would be observed as the Purna Swaraj (complete Independence) Day. Many Indian political parties and Indian revolutionaries from all over the country united to observe the day with honour and pride.

On Republic Day, flag hoisting ceremonies and parades by armed forces and school children are held in different parts of the country. The grandest and most important of these parades is held at Rajpath in New Delhi, which showcases a multi-hued image of the country's rich cultural heritage and military prowess. This parade is presided over by the President of India.   One of the main functions of the Republic Day Parade is to pay tribute to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the country and to confer bravery awards on military persons, citizenry and children for showing courage in the face of adversity.

The Republic Day Parade is a grand and pompous event.   At Delhi, apart from the parade armed forces, police and other forces;  display of various tanks, missiles and other equipment added to the arsenal of the military,  vibrant parade comprising tableaux from different States and cultural dances;  - children who have won National Bravery Awards ride past the spectators on colourfully decorated elephants. The Republic Day Parade is concluded by dare devil motor cycle riding and a flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets over Rajpath, as spectators look on with their hearts filled with pride.

Every year, in the Parade,  India has been hosting a Head of State or Government of another country as the state guest of honour for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi..  Before India fought wars with China and Pakistan, leaders from these countries were invited as state guests for the Republic Day celebrations. Interestingly, Pakistan Food and Agriculture Minister - Rana Abdul Hamid,  was the second state guest from that country for Republic Day in 1965, a few days after which the two countries went to a war. Countries which have been invited multiple times include India's neighbours (Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Mauritius), defence allies (Russia/USSR, France and Britain), trade partners (Brazil) and NAM allies (Nigeria, Indonesiaand erstwhile Yugoslavia). France and Bhutan have the distinction of being the guest of honour for the maximum (four) number of times followed by three visits each from Mauritius and USSR/Russia.  Last  year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the Chief Guest and this year.  This year it is the distinguished President of the US Barack Obama.    It is a "genuine honour" for US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade and witness India's national day celebrations firsthand, the White House has said. Obama will witness India's cultural and social heritage as well as its diversity and defence capability that will be put on display during the parade at Rajpath on 26 January, after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hoists the national flag at Red Fort in the morning.

On the eve of RD,  the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, addressed the Nation on the eve of the 66th Republic Day conveying warm greetings to all  citizens. He conveyed  special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces and Internal Security Forces.

Twenty Sixth January holds an everlasting place in our national memory because it is the day when modern India was born. Under Mahatma Gandhi's moral and political leadership, the National Congress passed the Purna Swaraj resolution demanding complete independence from British rule in December 1929. Gandhiji organized nationwide celebrations on 26 January 1930 as Independence Day. From then on, the Nation took a pledge on this day every year to carry on the freedom struggle till we attained it.

Exactly twenty years later, in 1950, we adopted our charter of modernity, the Constitution. Tragically, Gandhiji had been martyred two years before, but the framework of a Constitution that has made India a role model for today's world was constructed out of his philosophy. Its essence lay in four principles: democracy; freedom of faith; gender equality; and an economic upsurge for those trapped in the curse of dire poverty. These were made Constitutional obligations. Gandhiji's talisman for the country's rulers was simple and powerful and I quote: "Whenever you are in doubt...recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself...will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?" (unquote). Our resolve to eliminate poverty through inclusive development has to be a step in that direction.

Live coverage of the Delhi Parade in Doordarshan attracts good audience for a couple of decades now …..  there will live webcasts too and the event in You Tube would attract millions.

To conclude with the words of our Pressident - Our national ambition is to raise the quality of life of Indians by quantum leaps and raise generations enlightened by learning, patriotism, compassion, honesty and a sense of duty. Thomas Jefferson had said and I quote: "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty" (unquote). We must strive for the highest quality in our educational institutions so that we can take our place, within a visible future, among the knowledge leaders of the 21st century. I would urge, in particular, that we lay special stress on the culture of books and reading, which takes knowledge beyond the classroom and frees imagination from stress of the immediate and the utilitarian. We must be a creative people, nourished by innumerable, interlinked rivers of ideas. Our youth must lead the way to mastery of technology and communication in a universe where the cloud has become a library without frontiers, and vast opportunity awaits within the computer in your palm. The 21st century is within India's grasp.

Here are couple of  photos of RD Parade at Chennai taken a couple of years back and some taken during this year’s rehearsal. Let us all celeberate the Day, by  hoisting the National Flag and singing patriotic songs !  Jai Hind..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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