As the nation gears up to celebrate its 66th Republic Day with Barack Obama being the guest of honor for the occasion let us travel back in time to witness the birth of a republic.
Two and a half years after achieving independence the constitution of India came into effect from 26th January 1950. The day has ever since been celebrated as the republic Day of India. After the withdrawal of British Rule in 1947 it took India 894 days to come up with its own constitution. Until then King George VI headed the government of independent India.
The first republic day celebrations were held at the National Stadium in Delhi
New Delhi’s Rajpath or Kingsway as it was known during the time of the British Empire has become synonymous with the Republic Day celebrations. But it was not the case on 26 January 1950. The maiden parade marched down Irwin Amphitheater, now Delhi’s National Stadium, as a crowd of some 15,000 gathered to watch the ceremony that marked India’s arrival as an independent republic.
Rajendra Prasad, first president of independent India, delivered the country’s maiden Republic Day speech: “Today for the first time in our long and chequered history we find the whole of this vast land from Kashmir in the north to Cape Comorin in the South, from Kathiawad and Kutch in the west Coconada and Kamrup in the east, brought together under the jurisdiction of one constitution and one union which takes over the responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women that inhabit it. Its administration will now be carried on by its people and for its people. This country has great natural resources, and now has come to it the great opportunity to make its vast population happy and prosperous and to make it own contribution to the establishment of peace in the world.”