The date was January 26, 1950 and the headline of The Times of India read ‘The birth of India’s freedom’. This happened after two and a half years of Independence.
British trade with India commenced in the late 1600s, but by the mid 1700s, the British East India Company seized larger areas of land and this was just the beginning of the British rule in India. With the passing of the Government of India Act in 1858, the British Clan assumed direct control over the administration in the Indian subcontinent and the British Raj was born. India struggled for many years but remained disconnected in resisting the power of British Raj. By the early 1900s, India’s freedom struggle gained momentum, owing to the leadership of national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi – the growing strength of Indian national congress made it clear that India would soon be free.
4 Interesting facts about how India celebrated its first Republic Day:
1. Dr Rajendra Prasad took the oath as India’s first President
In India’s capital – Delhi – the day began with the 34th and last Governor-General of India, Chakravati Rajagopalachari, reading out the proclamation and announcing the birth of the Republic of India. Later, Dr Rajendra Prasad took the oath as India’s first President and addressed the crowd – first in Hindi and then in English.
“Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history,”he said “We find the whole of this vast land brought together under the jurisdiction of one consititution of one union which takes over responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women who inhabit it.”
2. The first venue of the Republic Day was Irwin Stadium (now known as Major Dhyan Chand Stadium)
Dr Prasad drove to the venue in his state coach and was greeted by thousands of people. The tradition of the parade happening on Rajpath hadn’t started yet. From the time of 1950 to 1954, the Republic Day celebrations happened at different venues including Irwin Stadium Kingsway, Red fort and Ramlila Ground. It was after 1955 that the Rajpath became the permanent venue for the Republic Day celebrations.
3. Grand Parade by the Armed forces:
On the arrival of the President at the venue, the armed forces welcomed him with a 31-gun salute. Then in a jeep, he took a round of the stadium with 3,000 members of the armed forces who had gathered there. The armed forces put in a lot of effort and performed tremendously.
4. The chief guest of was Indonesian President Dr Sukarno
The chief guest on occasion was Indonesian President Dr Sukarno. India and Indonesia’s ties are very strong and go way back, which is why its President was the chief guest for the day.