India celebrates 73rd Republic Day; Know the constitution formation and the difference between Independence and Republic Day

Every year, January 26 is celebrated as Republic Day and the day is a national holiday for the country. The day is commemorated to mark the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950, replacing the Government of India Act in 1935. On this day, it is officially unfurled the newly formed constitution of the country. 

The day is also an occasion for the citizens of our country to reiterate our resolve to promote equality and brotherhood in the country. The day also marks the transition of India from an autonomous Common realm with the British Monarch as nominal head of the Indian Dominion to a fully sovereign republic in the Commonwealth of Nations with the President of India as the nominal head of the Indian Union.

Every year, the nation celebrates the day with parades and processions but Covid-19 has played spoilsport for yet another year as the Centre had to reportedly cancel the plans to have any foreign chief guests. The government had earlier sent invitations to the Heads of State of five Central Asian countries to be the chief guests for the Republic Day Parade 2022. Last year, an invitation was sent to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. However, he had to cancel his visit, citing the need to oversee pandemic response in the United Kingdom.

History of India’s constitution formation

India gained independence from the British Raj in 1947. Until the date 26 of January 26, 1950, the country was not a sovereign because the constitution that explains the laws and articles had not been created officially. Before the official amendment of the constitution, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935. 

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 24 January 1950. Two days later which was on 26 January 1950, it came into effect throughout the whole nation. On that day, Dr. Rajendra Prasad began his first term of office as President of the Indian Union. The Constituent Assembly became the Parliament of India under the transitional provisions of the new Constitution.

However, Dr. BR Ambedkar headed the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. Additionally, Constitution Day is celebrated in India on November 26 every year, as on November 26, 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution of India.

Independence Day and Republic Day

While India’s Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British Rule, Republic Day celebrates the coming into force of its constitution. Independence is celebrated on August 15 every year, Republic is celebrated on January 26 every year. On India’s Independence Day, the flag is hoisted, which is to say it is kept folded somewhere in the middle of the flag pole and is pulled up to the top and unfurled. Whereas on Republic Day, the flag is already on top of the flag pole and signifies that it is one of a free nation.

Apart from Independence Day and Republic Day, India celebrates Constitution Day on November 26 every year to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India. On 26 November 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution of India which came into effect on 26 January 1950. The Modi government decided in 2015 to observe this day annually as Constitution Day.

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Furthermore, it is the Prime Minister who hoists the flag on Independence Day, whereas it is the President who unfurls the flag on January 26. This is because when the country became independent on August 15, 1947, there was no President and it was the Prime Minister who was the head of the Indian government. However, on January 26, 1950, Dr. Rajendra Prasad took oath as the first president of India and became the ceremonial head of state.