Why is India called a Republic nation?

Republic Day is celebrated in India on the 26th of January every year since 1950. But some of us even today wonder what the word republic means and what significance the day 26th January holds.

The definition of a Republic is as follows: “A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain supreme control over the government, at least in theory, and where offices of state are not granted through heritage.”

This, in simple terms, means that the country/state has an elected representative as a head. Of course, we could still question if it would be apt to call India a Republic since the president is not an elected representative but an indirectly elected personality. Though a popular notion, the Republic Day does not just mean the day the constitution was born, but rather, it means the day India became republic.

In 1858, the Queen of England took control of the Indian administration. She was declared as the Empress of India in the year 1876, thus bringing complete India under a monarchic rule (at least in name). The agenda of the Indian freedom fighters was not only to make India independent but also to make the system democratic, with an elected head (thus making India a republic). India, however, became an independent dominion under the British commonwealth in 1947 as a temporary measure. Being a British dominion meant that British exercised supervision over Indian external affairs, communication, etc. It was George VI who was the King and C. Rajagopalachari who served as the Governor General of India until India was proclaimed a Republic in 1950. Finally, it was the turn of an elected representative to head India. This is the reason why India adds such prominence to the word.

26th January was chosen as our Republic day though the constituent assembly obtained the signature of the president of the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 itself. Also, most of the features of the constitution like citizenship, elections, provisional parliament came into force from that date. It happened so because the leaders of India decided to bring the whole constitution into force on a day that Indians had been celebrating since 1930 as their Independence Day. This day had marked the hoisting of the Indian flag on the banks of River Ravi at Lahore by Jawaharlal Nehru. The call of Purna Swaraj or complete independence had begun from this day in history. Thus the leaders wanted the date 26th January to be remembered by one and all.

Thus, independent India becoming a republic in 1950, started afresh its tryst with destiny!

Activity

Which was the first Asian country to achieve Republic status?

To Reflect Upon

bulletWhy was becoming a Republic considered an important milestone?