Republic Day (India)

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Republic Day
Republic day
The original text of the Preamble to the Constitution of India. The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 (1950-01-26).
Observed by India
SignificanceInception of Constitution of India
CelebrationsParades, distribution of sweets in schools, speeches and cultural dances
Date26 January
Next time26 January 2019 (2019-01-26)

Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.[1]

The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.

History of Republic Day[edit]

India achieved independence from British Raj on 15 August 1947 following the Indian independence movement noted for largely peaceful non-violent resistance and civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi. The independence came through the Indian Independence Act 1947 (10 & 11 Geo 6 c 30), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth (later Commonwealth of Nations).[2] India obtained its independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as head of state and the Earl Mountbatten as governor-general. The country, though, did not yet have a permanent constitution; instead its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935. On 28 August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr B R Ambedkar as chairman. While India's Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British Rule, the Republic Day celebrates the coming into force of its constitution. A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Constituent Assembly on 4 November 1947.[3] The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of two years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on 24 January 1950. Two days later which was on 26 January 1950, it came into effect throughout the whole nation.On that day began Dr. Rajendra Prasad's first term of office as President of the Indian Union. The Constituent Assembly became the Parliament of India under the transitional provisions of the new Constitution.This date is celebrated in India as the Republic Day.


President Rajendra Prasad (in the horse-drawn carriage) readies to take part in the first Republic Day parade on Rajpath, New Delhi, in 1950.

The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India. On this day, ceremonious parades take place at the Rajpath, which are performed as a tribute to India; its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage.

Delhi Republic Day parade[edit]

Delhi Republic Day parade is held in the capital, New Delhi organised by the Ministry of Defence. Commencing from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's residence), Raisina Hill on Rajpath past the India Gate, this event is the main attraction of India's Republic Day Celebrations lasting three days. The parade showcases India's Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage.[4]

Nine to twelve different regiments of the Indian Army in addition to the Navy, and Air Force with their bands march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Twelve contingents of various para-military forces of India and other civil forces also take part in this parade.[5]

Beating Retreat[edit]

The Beating Retreat ceremony is held after officially denoting the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of 29 January, the third day after the Republic Day. It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The venue is Raisina Hill and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the North and South block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace) towards the end of Rajpath.[6]

The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives escorted by the (PBG), a cavalry unit. When the President arrives, the PBG commander asks the unit to give the National Salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the Army. The Army develops the ceremony of display by the massed bands in which Military Bands, Pipe and Drum Bands, Buglers and Trumpeters from various Army Regiments besides bands from the Navy and Air Force take part which play popular tunes like Abide With Me, Mahatma Gandhi's favourite hymn, and Saare Jahan Se Achcha at the end.[7][8][9]


Republic Day parade chief guest[edit]

Countries invited as chief guests for the Republic Day parade. Erstwhile Yugoslavia (twice invited) has not been depicted in the map.
  5 times (France, UK)
  4 times (Bhutan, Russia/USSR)
  Thrice (Indonesia, Mauritius)
  Twice (Brazil, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam)

Since 1950, India has been hosting head of state or government of another country as the state guest of honour for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.[10] During 1950–1954, Republic Day celebrations were organised at different venues (like Irwin Stadium, Kingsway, Red Fort and Ramlila Grounds). It was only starting 1955 when the parade in its present form was organised at Rajpath.[11] The guest country is chosen after a deliberation of strategic, economic and political interests. During 1950s–1970s, a number of NAM and Eastern Bloc countries were hosted by India. In 1968 and 1974, India played host to two countries on the same Republic Day.

Year Guest name Country Note
1950 President Sukarno[12]  Indonesia
1951 King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah[13]    Nepal
1954 King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck[14]  Bhutan
1955 Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad[15]  Pakistan First guest for parade at Rajpath [16]
1956 Chancellor of the Exchequer R. A. Butler  United Kingdom Note[6] Two guests[17]
Chief Justice Kōtarō Tanaka  Japan
1957 Minister of Defence Georgy Zhukov [18]  Soviet Union
1958 Marshall Ye Jianying[19]  China
1959 Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip [20][21][22]  United Kingdom 2nd invitation
1960 Chairman Kliment Voroshilov[23]  Soviet Union 2nd invitation
1961 Queen Elizabeth II[24]  United Kingdom 3rd invitation, Note[7]
1962 Prime Minister Viggo Kampmann[25]  Denmark Note[8]
1963 King Norodom Sihanouk[26]  Cambodia
1964 Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten [27]  United Kingdom 4th invitation, Note[9]
1965 Food and Agriculture Minister Rana Abdul Hamid  Pakistan 2nd invitation
1966 No invitation No invitation Note[10]
1967 King Mohammed Zahir Shah [28]  Afghanistan Note[11]
1968 Chairman Alexei Kosygin  Soviet Union 3rd invitation Two guests[29]
President Josip Broz Tito  Yugoslavia
1969 Prime Minister Todor Zhivkov[30]  Bulgaria
1970 King of the Belgians Baudouin[31][32]  Belgium Note[12]
1971 President Julius Nyerere[33]  Tanzania
1972 Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam [34]  Mauritius
1973 President Mobutu Sese Seko[35]  Zaire
1974 President Josip Broz Tito  Yugoslavia 2nd invitation Two guests [36]
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike  Sri Lanka
1975 President Kenneth Kaunda[37]  Zambia
1976 Prime Minister Jacques Chirac[38]  France
1977 First Secretary Edward Gierek[39]  Poland
1978 President Patrick Hillery[40]  Ireland
1979 Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser[41]  Australia
1980 President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing  France 2nd invitation
1981 President Jose Lopez Portillo[42]  Mexico
1982 King Juan Carlos I[43]  Spain
1983 President Shehu Shagari[44]  Nigeria
1984 King Jigme Singye Wangchuck[45]  Bhutan 2nd invitation
1985 President Raúl Alfonsín[46]  Argentina
1986 Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou[47]  Greece
1987 President Alan Garcia[48]  Peru
1988 President J. R. Jayewardene[49]  Sri Lanka 2nd invitation
1989 General Secretary Nguyen Van Linh[50]  Vietnam
1990 Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth[51]  Mauritius 2nd invitation
1991 President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom[52]  Maldives
1992 President Mário Soares[52]  Portugal
1993 Prime Minister John Major[52]  United Kingdom 5th invitation
1994 Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong[52]  Singapore
1995 President Nelson Mandela[53]  South Africa
1996 President Fernando Henrique Cardoso[52]  Brazil
1997 Prime Minister Basdeo Panday[52]  Trinidad and Tobago
1998 President Jacques Chirac[52]  France 3rd invitation
1999 King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev[52]    Nepal 2nd invitation
2000 President Olusegun Obasanjo[52]  Nigeria 2nd invitation
2001 President Abdelaziz Bouteflika[52]  Algeria
2002 President Cassam Uteem[52]  Mauritius 3rd invitation
2003 President Mohammed Khatami[52]  Iran
2004 President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva [52]  Brazil 2nd invitation
2005 King Jigme Singye Wangchuck[52]  Bhutan 3rd invitation
2006 King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud[52]  Saudi Arabia
2007 President Vladimir Putin[52]  Russia 4th invitation
2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy[52]  France 4th invitation
2009 President Nursultan Nazarbayev[52]  Kazakhstan
2010 President Lee Myung Bak[54]  South Korea
2011 President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono[55][56]  Indonesia 2nd invitation
2012 Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra[57]  Thailand
2013 King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck[58]  Bhutan 4th invitation
2014 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe[59]  Japan 2nd invitation
2015 President Barack Obama[60]  United States
2016 President François Hollande  France 5th invitation[61]
2017 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan[62]  United Arab Emirates
2018 Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah  Brunei Ten guests (Heads of ASEAN states)[63]
Prime Minister Hun Sen  Cambodia 2nd invitation
President Joko Widodo  Indonesia 3rd invitation
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith  Laos
Prime Minister Najib Razak  Malaysia
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi  Myanmar
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte  Philippines
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong  Singapore 2nd invitation
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha  Thailand 2nd invitation
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc  Vietnam 2nd invitation
2019 President Cyril Ramaphosa [64], [65]  South Africa 2nd invitation


1.^ On each of these occasions, Lady Edwina Mountbatten from United Kingdom was also the official guest for the parade.[17][27]
2.^ Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip also accompanied Queen Elizabeth II during the parade.[24]
3.^ Danish Prime Minister attended Republic Day in Madras (Chennai).[66]
4.^ No invitations were sent out possibly due to the demise of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on 11 January 1966 in Tashkent. The new government headed by Indira Gandhi was sworn on 24 January 1966 (only two days before the Republic Day).[67]
5.^ For the first time, the President of India (S. Radhakrishnan) could not take the salute at the Republic Day parade due to ill-health.[68] Zahir Shah arrived on 28 January.[69]
6.^ Attended only the Beating Retreat[31][32]


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See also[edit]