Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some Thoughts on Republic Day

I am on my morning rounds, after finishing a set of exercises, on a few machines installed in the local garden, by the kindness of my friend, the corporator. Thence, I sit on a park bench to make notes. A man cycles past me and I notice that his cycle doesn’t have a foot pedal on the left side. Seeing his expertise, I guess he has been going around this way for some time. Why doesn’t he get it repaired? I think people are like that. My thoughts go to my profession – writing. A good writer will write anywhere, in whatever circumstances. So I must write something on my blog today, the 26th of January 2016. So, what should I write about? Ah! Today is Republic Day. So I must write something about what it means to all of us.

This is the Wayside Inn in Kala Ghoda where Dr. B.R.Ambedkar used to sit drafting the Indian Constitution. 
India became a republic 66 years ago on this day January 26th, 1950. I am sharing this here so that the new generation, which doesn’t know much (or, care to know) about history, should know because it is about their country. It’s true we got independence in 1947, but then from 1947 to 1950 we were a dominion of the British empire ruled by a governor-general and the British monarch George VI was still the constitutional head of the country. This is something like Australia and South Africa, both of which, even now, have the queen of England as their head of state.

It was in 1950 that India became a republic, free from the domination, so to speak, of the British Empire. True, the British must have resented this. From 1947 to 1950 Nehru was not a prime minister but a secretary of state of the British Empire. The first governor general of free India was an English man, Lord Mountbatten. He was succeeded by an Indian, C. Rajgopalachari. That brings us to the question: what is the significance of the Republic Day? It was then that India became a fully independent country, and not just a colony of Britain like Australia or New Zealand.

Now we have an identity to be proud of, a nation built by our visionary leaders, who fought for the independence and sovereignty of our country with their own minds and bodies. It’s our duty to see that their fight shouldn’t go in vain and that we should uphold the principles they have laid down in the constitution. It’s our duty to protect the constitution and the principles laid down in it, such as: freedom, equality, freedom to practise any religion, fundamental rights, civil rights, and political rights. The preamble to the constitution states:

“WE THE PEOPLE OF India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVERIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity,
And to promote among all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT, AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.” Courtesy: The Constitution of India, LexisNexis.

Though the constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949 it came into effect only two months later. In this period our leaders suggested minor changes and later signed their approval.

Sorry! This is The Woodside Inn in Colaba. I got confused by the similarity in names. I have lunched here too!
The constitution was written by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar and it is said it took him three years to write. It’s a beautiful, though complicated document to go through. I have a copy of the constitution published by LexisNexis. I have had the luck and honour of lunching in the historic and iconic Wayside Inn (Now, changed to Silk Route), a restaurant in Kala Ghoda, Bombay, where Dr. Ambedkar used to sit drafting the Indian constitution. A picture of the historic restaurant is given herewith.

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