Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
On 26th January 2020, India is going to honor the 71st Republic Day with pride and hilarity. It is a day to remember when India’s constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, completing the country’s transition toward becoming an independent republic. Let us walk-on the pages of yesteryear to show up at the day. The first Britishers entered India in 1579, the authority was reassigned to the East India Company formally in 1765 and then the British Parliament took over the administration. Before Independence, India was governed by various Acts enacted by the British Parliament such as: ‘The Government of India Act 1858’, ‘The Government of India Act 1909’, ‘The Government of India Act 1919’ and finally ‘The Govt. of India Act 1935’. The continued combat and negotiations, as a fore-runner of independence, a ‘Constituent Assembly’ was formed with members representing different regions and religions. It was first elected for undivided India but after partition, some of its members ceased to exist. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on 9th December 1946. India attained freedom and Independence on 15th August 1947 and this Constituent Assembly took the governance of India from the British Parliament. On 29th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly through a resolution appointed a drafting committee with the Chairmanship of Dr B. R. Ambedkar to scrutinize the draft of the text of the Constitution of India prepared by Sir B. N. Rau, the Constitutional Advisor, giving effect to the decisions already taken in the Assembly and to submit to the Assembly for consideration, the text of the draft constitution as revised by the committee. Towards the end of October 1947, the Drafting Committee set into motion and submitted the Draft Constitution to the President of the Constituent Assembly on 21st of February 1948 with various changes. The assembly met in all eleven sessions (first session 9-23 December 1946 and last session 14-26 November 1949) open to the public, discussing and debating the draft and adopted it as the Constitution of India on 26 November 1949 (celebrated as Constitution Day (National Law Day) or Samvidhan Divas). The provisions relating to Citizenship, Elections, Provisional Parliament, Temporary and Transitional provisions were given immediate effect on 26 November 1949 itself. The handwritten Constitution was signed on 24th January, 1950, by 284 members of the Constituent Assembly, which included 15 women, amid drizzling outside the Parliament at Delhi, considered to be a good omen. After putting their signatures, all the members including Dr. Rajendra Prasad (President of India Elect) and other members sang ‘Vande Mataram’, adopted as National song and ‘Jana Gana Mana’, adopted as National Anthem’ by Constituent Assembly 0n 24 Jan 1950, in chorus, symbolizing a great achievement of the Sovereign Independent Republic of India, after a struggle of nearly three centuries.. It came into force two days later on 26th January 1950. ’26 January’ was selected, because it was on this day in 1930, Congress in an electrifying resolution declared ‘Purna Swaraj’, complete freedom from British Raj. On 26 Jan 1950, the Constituent Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in1952.
Republic Day honours the date, 26 January, when on this day in 1950 the ‘Constitution of India’ came into effect, replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India. Talking in layman terms, the Indian Constitution is the supreme rule-book that lays down the instructions to be followed for the governance of India. We are well informed that ‘Constitution’ is a collective work of 22 in all with 8 major and other minor committees, appointed by the Constituent Assembly, but we always speaks in high terms of only Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who was chairman of the ‘Drafting Committee’. Here we never speak of contribution of N Gopalaawamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Dr. K. M. Munshi, Syed Mohammad Saadullah, N Madhava Rau, TT Krishnamachari other members of the drafting committee as well as chairman of other associated committees. I like to flash here the words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, of his address to India’s Constituent Assembly for the last time on November 25, 1949: “The credit that is given to me does not really belong to me. It belongs to Sir B. N. Rau, the constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly, who prepared a rough draft of the constitution for the consideration of the ‘Drafting Committee’. A part of credit must go to the members of the drafting committee. Much greater share of the credit must go to SN Mukherjee, the chief draft man of the committee for his hard work”.
It is less known that the original Constitution of India was handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in a flowing italic style with beautiful calligraphy. The original copies of the Indian Constitution, written in Hindi and English, are kept in special helium-filled cases in the library of the Parliament of India. Interestingly we find that ‘Father of Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t directly involved in making of the constitution, but his ideas reflect in the same. There was hardly any soul in constituent assembly that did not follow him. He was responsible for fight against communal discrimination, women empowerment, and rights of farmers and what not. He shaped Indian nationalism that embeds the feelings of equality, liberty, and fraternity in the Constitution.
Concluding, the Republic Day celebrations start with placing of floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial at India Gate by the Prime Minister of India, in memory of those soldiers who lost their lives in war followed by two minutes silence. It is followed by traditional Republic Day Parade featuring contingents and displays from the Army, Navy, and Air Force on a grand scale in Delhi and includes colorful floats from each of India’s states. Smaller parades are held in each state as well. As a symbolic gesture, the Indian government invites a chief guest to attend official Republic Day celebrations in Delhi. The guest is always a head of state or government from a country that’s selected based on strategic, economic and political interests. It is the responsibility of every one of us to salute our great leaders and freedom fighters on this day and live up to their vision.
Republic Day honours ‘Constitution of India’
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal