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New Delhi Dazzles With Republic Day Parade

Monday, 27th January 2020

Thousands of spectators watched, amidst great excitement, as President Ram Nath Kovind, Commander-In-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, took the salute on Sunday 26th January,for the 71st Republic Day Parade in New Delhi. Beside the Indian President was the Chief Guest for the occasion, the Brazillian President, Jair Messias Bolsonaro. Other high level dignitaries at the Salute Dais was Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian government ministers. The great show was witnessed by the diplomatic corps in India; many of who turned out with their families to watch the dazzling January defence show of soldiers and arsenal; the rich cultural diversity of the country and to appreciate the unity of the country despite the diversities in it.  

The Republic Day Parade is an annual celebration of the promulgation of the Indian home-grown Constitution on 26th January, 1950. The birth of the Republican Constitution of India started in September, 1947; a fortnight after the country became independent from Britain on 15th August, 1947. Though politically independent,the new state was a constitutional monarchy run by a governor-general on behalf of King George VI, the head of the former colonial power. The newly independent country set to write its own constitution. A committee led by Dr B R Ambedkar,a doctor of letters in Economics, was appointed to draft the constitution. This relentless fighter for rights of his fellow Dalits (untouchables) and for the rights of women, started the challenging task of writing a unitary constitution for his country.The 308-member Constituent Assembly which he chaired for two years, debated various articles which were to form the Constitution of India.  The final document was signed by CA delegates on 24th January, and two days later, on 26th January,1950; the Indian Constitution was promulgated. The first President to be sworn in under the new legal dispensation was Dr Rajendra Prasad; while the former Constituent Assembly turned itself into a provisional Parliament until the 1952 elections.

March pasts by different army regiments, as well as by the Indian Navy and Air Force are the traditional, colourful aspects of the Republican Day Parade. So are the floats by all the 29 States which are welded into one, to form this giant of a country. From Goa to Gujarat and thence to Himachal Pradesh; to Jamnu and Kashmir in the north; thence to Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in the east; and down to Tamil Nadu in the south east: each state comes on the parade grounds of Rajpath, to display its unique peoples, their history and their way of life.

The Republic Day Parade consists of three days of state events including a civilian awards ceremony performed on its eve. It was during this ceremony in 1990 that the writer of the Indian Constitution, Dr B R Ambedkar, was posthumously given the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award. This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed another very important aspect of the Parade: laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The grand Beating Retreat ceremony performed in spectacular fashion by all the bands in the main event, brings the Republic Day Parade to an end. 

India has strong defence, educational and cultural links with Africa as shown by the number of African heads of state who have been Chief Guests of the Republic Day Parade. These include Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in 1971, Mobutu Sese Seko in 1973, Kenneth Kaunda in 1975, Shehu Shagari of Nigeria in 1983, Anerood Jagnauth of Mauritiusin 1990, Nelson Mandela in 1995, Abdelaziz Boutefilike of Algeria in 2001. Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria was the second Nigerian President to be Chief Guest at the Parade in 2000. Last year, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, followed in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, as the Government of India Chief Guest for the Republic Day Parade.