The Real Story behind Republic India
There are many children and also some adults who are in confusion that why we celebrate Republic Day? We all celebrate Independence Day because India got Independence on 15th August 1947. So, what is the need for Republic Day? What is the main motive behind it? It may seem a very basic thing but this fact is unknown to most people. 3 dates are very important in the aspect of Independent India, these are as follows:
> 15th August 1947: Independence Day
> 26th November 1949: Constitution Day
> 26th January 1950: Republic Day
Now, to understand the whole scenario from 15th August 1947 to 26th January 1950, we should know about 4 basic concepts: Dependency, Protectorate, Dominion, Sovereign State.
1. Dependency: The basic meaning of colony or dependency is a country that is completely under the control of some other country including legislatively, judicially, executively. In the same way, India was a colony of Britain till 14th August 1947.
2. Protectorate: Any country that lacks in the terms of resources and power is helped by some other country by the means of its defense and external relations is called the protectorate of the helping country. Other than these matters, that country in need is independent but the things in which they are supported by others are only controlled by the powerful country.
3. Dominion: It is almost the same as Protectorate but the only difference is that the less powerful country will be independent in every matter but only for the name and on documents, it will be there that this country is supported by the powerful country. Just for the sake of the name, the president of the powerful country will be also known as the president of the less powerful country.
4. Sovereign State: When a country is not at all dependent on any other country for anything, then it is called a sovereign state. The decision-making power about defense as well as the external relations and all other internal matters of the country is considered to be of the leader of that particular country only.
So, the journey of India before independence till 26th January 1950 can be divided into 5 major parts which are discussed below showing how India emerged as one of the dominating countries in the world today.
1. Before 15th August 1947
India was the dependency/colony of the United Kingdom before we get Independence. Every defense and external relations things were managed by the British rulers of that time and no Indian person was involved in all these activities. One act was passed on 15th August 1947 named the “Indian Independence Act”.
2. Indian Independence Act
This act was passed in the “House of Commons” which is the parliament of the United Kingdom on 15th August 1947. Britishers have already announced that they will leave India before 1948, but because of some unforeseen situations, they did that a bit early. On 18th July 1947, the crown prince of the United Kingdom signed this act which signifies that the act is now complete and ready to be declared officially. The key points in this act were:
a. Appointed day of the act – 15th August 1947. It means that the British rule in India will end on this day and after this India will become an independent country.
b. The post of Viceroy (representative of the King of the United Kingdom) will also be demolished.
c. The post of Governor-General will continue for the transition phase only and the appointment of Governor-General will be done according to the Cabinet of Indian Ministers.
d. The land of India will be partitioned into two dominions: India and Pakistan. (So, we only became a dominion on 15th August 1947 from the British Dependency).
e. To continue the legislative work until the constitution is being made, the set of protocols according to the “Government of India Act 1935” were given. Almost 200 articles out of 395 in our constitution are taken from this Act.
f. The constitutional assembly has full authority to form, amend and cancel any act including the Government of India Act.
3. Making of Constitution
The making of the constitution started before India got independence, the first election of the Constitutional Assembly was held in November 1946. The work for the making of the constitution started in December 1946 and “Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar” was the head of the drafting committee and “Dr. Rajendra Prasad” was the president of this committee. This committee made the complete constitution in almost 3 years on 26th November 1949.
4. 26th November 1949
a. This day is also known as Constitution Day of India. Mr. B.N Rao (advisor) and Dr. B.R Ambedkar were the two most important pillars of the Constitutional assembly. The Constitution of India is amongst one of the amplest constitutions of the world. The team approximately go through 60 different constitutions and after combining the good points of them all, the Indian constitution is made.
b. Now you will say that if the constitution was finalized on 26th November 1949 then why not republic day is celebrated on this day? The reason is that in our constitution there exists an article 394 that says that the day of commencement will be 26th January 1950 but few provisions will work from 26th November only (around 15 articles, including citizen and election regarding provisions).
c. Now, what was the reason behind deciding the date of 2 months later for the commencement of the constitution? We will discuss it in the point below.
5. 26th January 1950
a. This was the day when the constitution of India was officially declared but this is not the actual reason to name 26th January as the Republic Day of India. This day was chosen because of its historical importance taking reference from “Paris Treaty and American Independence”, it was said that “4 July” is the day when all the 13 states will come together and declare themselves independent. On 31st December 1929, Jawahar Lal Nehru declared “Poorna Swaraj” in his speech and said that we will get our independence till 26th January 1930. That is the reason why 26th January was celebrated as Independence Day from 1930 to 1946 and because this day was of great importance hence the assembly felt that this day must be given special recognition. That is why the commencement day of the constitution of India was declared as 26th January.
b. But what happened on 26th January 1950 that signifies some special changes in our constitution? The last article 395 of our constitution is about repeal which means that with the help of article 395, any other article can be demolished, and using this act, The Indian Independence Act (1947) and Government of India Act (1935) repealed as soon as the Indian constitution comes into play. Indian Independence Act states that India is a Dominion of Britain but at the time when our constitution was commenced, these acts got repealed, and hence India is no more the dominion of Britain and the head of state becomes the President of India only.
Head of States during 1945 to 1950
a. Up to 14th August 1947: Lord Mountbatten was Viceroy and Governor-General of India
b. 15th August 1947 to 21st June 1948: Lord Mountbatten was the Governor-General of India (at that time the post of Viceroy was repealed as India now became the dominion).
c. 21st June 1948 to 25th January 1950: Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was the Governor-General.
d. 26th January 1950: Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of Independent India. (the post of Governor-General was demolished because the new Constitution of India is now applicable).
From Monarchy to Republic
The word “Republic” is made from the Latin word “Res Publica” which means ‘related to the public’. To simplify more, Res publica means that the nation is not of the leader, it is of the public and that is why it is said that ‘where the monarchy ends, there the Republic starts’. In a monarchy, the nation or state is believed to be of the leader but in Republic, the state is believed to be of the public. So, we can say that the conversion from leader’s rule to public rule is done then we achieve a Republic state.
Characteristics of a Republic country are:
a. Head of State must be elected.
b. No privileged class.
c. Public offices should be open for all.
d. Popular Sovereignty.
Monarchy and Democracy have some common attributes in them where democracy and monarchy both come into play together. It is a very slow process to come into a democracy from a monarchy.
To what level we have been a republic?
a. The procedural or formal level of Republic is the one that has the above-mentioned characteristics of a republic country like the head of state must be elected, public offices should be open for all, popular sovereignty and no privileged class should be there.
b. But, at the substantive level, the criteria of being a republic differs a little from the formal one. You must figure out some points by yourself to get these points. The ministers that we have till now, do most of them came to that level just because of their qualifications or because they were born in the family in which there already exists a minister? It is not at all a bad thing for anyone to come into politics even if their family background is of politics, provided they are qualified enough and have sufficient knowledge to do politics.
c. There are many objections in the field of the judiciary also if we look thoroughly then almost all of the judges of the Supreme Court and High Court of India come from some of the counted families only. This matter is more serious because the selection of judges is done by judges only, there is no such government body to select out some good people for the post of judges. Why the involvement of women in the judiciary is very low, only 4-5% of the judges in India are women? Are men a privileged class in the field of politics and judiciary? If these kinds of problems are present and they are performed intentionally, then it means that we are following the rules to be called Republic but the inner skeleton is still not capable to be said Republic.
At the level of society also this kind of problems are present, there are an enormous number of examples near you where a person gets the opportunity just because they are from a well-established family that too in a particular domain and the ones who don’t have an ancestor already in that field lags. Now you can easily configure that up to how extent we are Republic on the ground level.