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  • Raghav Sand

Republic: Constitution and Institution

The Constitution is the foundation of all other laws in a republic nation. The Constitution of India was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 (Constitution Day) and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic.

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” Plato, who wrote numerous words of wisdom in his book ‘The Republic’ enlightened the world with his views about a structured political body. Western countries began to realise and acknowledge the importance of individual dignity and liberty after prolonged suppression from monarchs and their cronies. With passage of time, the concept of democracy gained universal acceptance.

Republic Day Parade: An Annual Tradition

The grandest and most important parade on Republic day is held at Rajpath in New Delhi, which showcases a kaleidoscopic image of the country’s rich cultural heritage and military prowess. This parade is presided over by the President of India. One of the main functions of the Republic Day Parade is to pay tribute to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the country and to confer bravery awards on military persons, citizenry and children for showing courage in the face of adversity.

Struggle Leads to Beautiful Things

India’s pursuit for independence was accomplished after selfless efforts of patriotic men and women. It took almost 90 years to establish self-rule since the first war of independence in 1857. While some freedom fighters’ tales became part of folklore, many others did not get due credit for their heroics. The brave sons and daughters of soil were not bothered about the praise, but their vision of indigenous government persuaded them to stand up against the high and mighty. India became a republic after 894 days of independence. It was the accommodative nature of the Constitution which delayed the inevitable.

Borrowed Wisdom

The Indian Constitution is often called a ‘bag of borrowings’. It is called so because it has borrowed provisions from the Constitutions of various other countries. The ideals of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity are from the French Constitution. While the concept of five-year plans was adopted from erstwhile USSR, the laws governing our Supreme Court and the concept of “procedure established by Law” were adopted from the Constitution of Japan. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution was inspired by the US Constitution’s Preamble; both the Preambles begin with “We the People”.

The Original Constitution

The original copy of the Constitution is 22 inches long and 16 inches wide. It is written on sheets of parchment and its manuscript consists of 251 pages. There are three original copies of the Constitution of India.

All of these copies have been kept in the Central Library of the Parliament. It is understandable that keeping this prized text needs a lot of effort. Utmost care has been taken to ensure that the original copy of the Constitution isn’t spoiled, therefore, it is kept in a box filled with helium gas.

Significant Amendments to The Constitution

The first amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1951. It empowered the state to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and economically backward classes, and provided for the saving of laws for the acquisition of estates, etc.

The seventh amendment, enacted in 1956, brought about the most comprehensive changes so far in the Constitution. This amendment was designed to implement the State Reorganisation Act. The Second and Seventh schedules were substantially amended for the purpose of the States Reorganization Act.

In 1971, the 25th amendment of the Constitution added a new clause, Article 31C to the Constitution. Up to 1971, the position was that Fundamental Rights prevailed over the Directive Principles of State Policy and that a law enacted to implement a Directive Principle could not be valid if it conflicted with a Fundamental Right.

The 61st amendment in 1989 reduced the age of voting from 21 years to 18 years in Lok Sabha and State Assembly election. Introduction of Goods and Services Tax and formation of National Judicial Appointment Commission have also been done through constitutional amendments.

Beating the Retreat

The ceremony at the Vijay Chowk on January 29 every year marks the culmination of the four-day-long Republic Day celebrations. The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives in a cavalry unit escorted by the ‘President’s Bodyguards’. Military Bands, Pipes and Drums Bands, Buglers and Trumpeters from various Army Regiments perform during the ceremony. Besides, there are bands from each of the Navy and Air Force.

Beating Retreat Ceremony 2017 - Watch Full Video of The Annual Musical Extravaganza at Vijay Chowk

‘Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride. The ceremony traces its origin to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands. ‘Beating Retreat’ marks a centuries old military tradition, when the troops ceased fighting, enclosed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield and returned to the camps at sunset at the sounding of the Retreat. Colours and Standards are cased and flags lowered.

India: A Flawed Democracy

Democracy is showing withdrawal, according to the latest edition of the Democracy Index from, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Image Courtesy: EIU

This annual survey, which rates the state of democracy across 167 countries based on five measures — electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties — finds that democracy has been eroded around the world in the last decade. The global score of 5.44 out of ten is the lowest recorded since the index began in 2006. Just 22 countries, home to 430m people, were deemed “full democracies” by the EIU. More than a third of the world’s population, meanwhile, still live under authoritarian rule.

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