Why 26 Jan for Republic Day


We have 2 days of national significance when we hoist the tricolor:
Independence Day & Republic Day.

Few months ago, we had discussed about the reason why midnight of 15-Aug-1947 was chosen as the time & date for Indian Independence in the following article:

This time, lets find out more about Republic Day.
As all of us would have already studied in our school textbooks, the Constitution of India came into force on 26th of January 1950 and hence we have been celebrating Republic Day on the 26th of January every year in honour of our Constitution. But why was 26th Jan 1950 chosen as the date to bring the Constitution into force?

We can divide the above question into 2 sub-questions:
-Why 1950 but not 1948 or 1949?
-Why 26-Jan?

Why 1950?
After the negotiations between Indian & British leaders during 1946 Cabinet Mission, the “Constituent Assembly” was formed (consisting of 217 elected representatives which included visionaries like Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar, Maulana Azad, Rajendra Prasad, Rajaji and many more), in order to draft the Constitution of India with Dr.Ambedkar officially heading the drafting committee & Sardar Patel playing a major role in shaping of the Constitution.


9-Dec-1946. First session of Constituent Assembly of India

More about the role of Sardar Patel in shaping of Constitution:

The Constituent Assembly began with it’s first meeting on 9th Dec 1946 and held 11 meetings totalling 166 days of brainstorming sessions debating over everything from national language to minority rights. These meetings were spread over the next 4 years and the last meeting was held in 1950. Hence, the Constitution could not be passed before 1950 because it had not been ready yet. It took almost 3 full years to frame the Constitution.


Members of the Constituent Assembly signing the Constitution of India.


News of Purna Swaraj Declaration in 1930

Why Jan 26?

As most of us would have studied in our school textbooks, there was a mass movement in India among youth during 1929-30 under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi immediately after the Simon commission (1928), demanding for complete independence (Purna Swaraj). But our School textbooks forgot to mention that Mahatma Gandhi was on one side with a moderate demand for gradual freedom starting from the dominion status whereas Nehru and Bose were on another side, demanding for an immediate & complete independence. Each side had their own visions and were right from their point of view which resulted in internal conflicts creeping into the Congress.

After considerable flogging, it was time for action. Nehru was elected President and along with Sardar Patel, Rajaji & Gandhi, the Indian Declaration of Independence was drafted. On the midnight of 31-Dec-1929, Nehru hoisted the tricolor flag (which had Gandhi Charaka at the centre) on the banks of Ravi in Lahore and the pledge of independence was read out. On January 26, 1930, the declaration of purna swaraj was publicly issued and Nehru made an appeal to volunteers across the country to join the civil disobedience movement in which his 12 year old daughter, Indira was the first to volunteer.


Tricolor with Gandhi Charaka during Purna Swaraj Celebrations

For the next 17 years, the 26th of Jan was celebrated as “Indian Independence Day” or “Purna Swaraj Day” by people all over the country. In 1947, when the British finally decided to grant freedom, they were requested to grant it on 26-Jan-1948 but due to growing tensions between religious fanatics who were going out of control by the day, Lord Mountbatten preponed the date of Independence in order to minimize damages. He also had his own personal reasons as well to choose 15th August.

An earlier article about about why the midnight of 15th August 1947 was chosen as the date for Indian Independence:

Since Jan-26 was a date associated with national sentiments (Purna Swaraj) but could not be celebrated as Independence Day (since Lord Mountbatten transferred power on 15-Aug-1947 instead of 26-Jan-1948), it was then decided to bring the Constitution (which was ready in 1950) to force on 26-Jan-1950 in order to continue observing it as a day of national importance.

Today being Republic Day which is celebrated in the honour of our Constitution, let us salute not only Dr Ambedkar but also the Iron man, Sardar Patel who played a great role in framing of our Constitution.
Today being 26-Jan, let us look at this day as not only the day of Republic & Sovereignty but also the day of Purna Swaraj and declaration of complete independence which finally resulted in freedom at midnight and our tryst with destiny.

Happy Republic Day & Happy Purna Swaraj Day!!

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