The Congress leaders, particularly Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, wanted to give some official recognition to January 26 as Indians had been observing it as Yomme Azadi (Independence Day) for 18 years before actually getting independence.
When the new Constitution of India was framed by the Constituent Assembly of India in November 1949 and was ready for coming into being, the Indian government decided to start the implementation of the new Constitution with effect from 26 January 1950. India was declared as a Soverign. Secular and Democratic Republic on January 26, 1950. Since then, India has been celebrating Republic Day with great pomp and show every year on January 26.
The Sovereign, Secular and Democratic Republic of India turned 63 on January 26, 2013. I had the proud privilege and pleasure of attending the first Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 1950 in New Delhi. The first as well as the last Indian Governor General C. Rajagopalachari relinquished the charge of his post on January 26, 1950 morning and left for Chennai (then Madras). Dr Rajendra Prasad, who was the President of the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the new Constitution of India, was sworn in the first President of India under the new Constitution, and he took over as such on January 26, 1950. The Constitution, which guarantees Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, is incidentally the biggest such written document in the word. It gives direction to the destiny that guides the world’s largest democracy. The first Republic Day celebration on January 26, 1950 in New Delhi was on a modest scale. The marching parade, watched by only a few thousand spectators, ended after taking a round of the Connaught Place. It did not go to the Red Fort as is the case now. There were no cultural Tableaux.
With the passage of time the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi have now become the biggest and the mightiest event of its kind in the world. No parade of any such type held in Washington, Moscow, New York, London, Paris, Beijing or anywhere else in the world can match it. It has assumed the proportion of a spectacular display of India’s military might and splendorous showcasing of cultural unity in diversity. During the last 63 years, India has made tremendous strides in every field of activity-agricultural, business, industry, trade, science, technology, defense production, information technology-and all this is depicted, reflected and mirrored in the various floats taken out on January 26, every year.