Posted by: Kunal | January 24, 2008

Why do we celebrate Republic Day

Res publica is a Latin phrase, literally meaning “public thing” or “public matter”. It is the origin of the word ‘Republic’, though translations vary widely according to the context.

In ancient India, a number of Maha Janapadas were established as republics by the 6th century BC. In the ancient Near East, a number of cities of the Levant achieved collective rule. Awadh has been cited as one of the earliest known examples of a republic, in which the people, rather than a monarch, are described as sovereign. For those republics that emerged after the publication of the Renaissance philosophies regarding republics, like the United Provinces of the Netherlands, it is not always all that clear what role exactly was played by republicanism – among a host of other reasons – that led to the choice for “republic” as form of state

The Enlightenment had brought a new generation of political thinkers, showing that, among other things, political philosophy was in the process of refocusing to political science. This time the influence of the political thinkers, like John Locke, on the emergence of republics in America and France soon thereafter was unmistakable: Separation of powers, Separation of church and state, etc were introduced with a certain degree of success in the new republics, along the lines of the major political thinkers of the day. In fact, the Enlightenment had set the standard for republics, as well as in many cases for monarchies, in the next century. The most important principles established by the close of the Enlightenment were the rule of law, the requirement that governments reflect the self-interest of the people that were subject to that law, that Governments act in the national interest, in ways which are understandable to the public at large, and that there be some means of self-determination.

Like John Locke believed that a Government could only be legitimate if the people in the role of the sovereign have sanctioned it, Jean-Jacques Rousseau claimed that a perfect society would be controlled by the “general will” of its populace. While he does not define exactly how this should be accomplished (as there are many possible ways, each suited to different situations), he suggests that assemblies be held in which every citizen can assist in determining the general will. Without this input from the people, there can be no legitimate government. Importantly, this input cannot come from representatives, but must be from the people themselves.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1762 propounded The Social Contract theory. The Social Contract was a progressive work that helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France. The Social Contract finally expelled the myth that the King was appointed by God to legislate; as Rousseau asserts, only the people, in the form of the sovereign, have that all powerful right.

The stated aim of the Social Contract is to determine whether there can be a legitimate political authority. Mahatma Gandhi quoted from The Social Contract on numerous occasions during his speeches. Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains

In political theory and political science, the term “republic” is generally applied to a state where the government’s political power depends solely on the consent, however nominal, of the people governed

David Miller {et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987) contented

In a republic – which is not necessarily presidential – government is in the hands of citizens, or of those accountable to them rather than in the control of a monarch or despot.

Republicanism is familiar because it pervades political speech. Americans, for example, have long pledged allegiance not only to their flag but also to “the republic for which it stands.” But republicanism is also elusive because there is no consensus among scholars or citizens as to exactly what a republic is. No wonder. Republican government has been practiced in a wide variety of times and places, including ancient Athens, Sparta, Rome, Renaissance…

Republics are often associated with democracy, which seems natural if one acknowledges the meaning of the expression from which the word “republic” derives.  This association between “republic” and “democracy” is however far from a general understanding, even if acknowledging that there are several forms of democracy.

Indians had long been agitating for independence from Britain. India when it became Independent would have been in a bizzare situation, had not we resolved to have a Constitution of its own. A country diverse in every aspect, from North to South and East to West.  But following the landslide victory of Britain’s Labour Party in July 1945, the then Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, urged an end to our long struggle for independence. He wanted the Indians to establish a political assembly that would create for the people of India a constitution of their own making. The stated goal of the constitution team which was headed by Dr Rajendra Prasad was: “to secure for all” of India’s citizens “social, economic and political” justice; to establish “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; to establish “equality of status and opportunity;” and to promote among all citizens a “fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation.”

Once we achieved our freedom this day (26th January) now reflects the journey of India from a colonized country to an independent republic as India became formally independent from the United Kingdom on August 15, 1947, however, the country remained a Commonwealth realm, and continued in a personal union relationship with the other countries who each regarded the same person as their monarch and Head of State. The Monarch of India was represented by the Governor-General of India, appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom upon the advice of the Prime Minister of India, instead of the British government, till India’s parliament worked through the creation of its own constitution which was passed by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 19 49 and then the Constitution was formally adopted on January 26, 1950.

On this day when the constitution took effect, the Governor General was replaced by an elected president, with Dr. Rajendra Prasad serving as the first President of India. The move ended India’s status as a Commonwealth realm, but the republic remained in the Commonwealth of Nations. But our Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India argued that a nation should be allowed to stay in the Commonwealth simply by observing the British monarch as “Head of the Commonwealth” but not necessarily head of state. This was a ground-breaking decision that would set a precedent in the second half of the twentieth century for many other former British colonies to remain in the Commonwealth after becoming newly-independent republics.

{ Brain Teaser}; During the transition period from 1947 to 1950, while the Constitution was still not in effect. King George VI was the head of country. C. Rajagopalachari served as the Governor-General of India during this period.

India was then a federated nation and a union of states. More than 275 principalities had to be merged into new states and after merging these princely states, India became a truly sovereign state. On this day, 26th Jan a date of symbolic importance as it was on January 26, 1930, that the Congress Party had first issued the call for complete independence from Britain. Thus 26th January is one of the most important days in the Indian history. Indeed our past glory has come back after we gained independence and India has once again become a land of hope and immense possibilities, as we have risen like the phoenix, the symbol of death and resurrection, showing our civilized strength and a will to prove our Bhagavad Gita’s message — that wherever there is dharma (righteousness), there is victory — true. The story of India’s recent progress is a saga of peoples’ power, determination and a will to move ahead as enshrined in our constitution a constitution, which perhaps is the longest written document of any independent nation in the world.

Republic Day represents the true spirit of the independent India. This day celebrates the power of the citizens and the secularism of the state. In a way, it is reflective of the united India that is one despite the apparent diversities in culture, lifestyle, languages, traditions and religions. So, salute our motherland by reading poems written and quotations said in her praise. The Day has its significance because of our Constitution which came into force on this very day 58 years earlier. So, see what the great Constitution of India, that propounds liberal democracy, has in its store. Be a proud and informed citizen and get an insight into the basic structure of our government by reading our Constitution.

As a law student you will get to know what it feels to be an Indian, cause Constitution of India is the most powerful tool for you, it’s the air you breath in, it’s the mother law of all the Acts you are going to study. It is the most important tool of an Advocate, law student, and yes an Indian Citizen.

Jai Hind,

This article has been written by Deepu Krishna

Chief Legal Faculty,

LST

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Responses

  1. Very well written

  2. not only legal aspirants but people from each and every releams must know as to why do we celebrate republic day.
    this piece of writing is sure to ignite the minds of thousands fogged with insanity……

  3. Very well woven!!!


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