Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Why was January 26 chosen to be India’s Republic Day?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Republic Day

Mains level : Read the attached story

Introduction

  • On January 26, India celebrates Republic Day, marking the day when its Constitution came into effect in 1950.
  • However, the roots of this celebration trace back to January 26, 1930, when India made the historic “Poorna Swaraj” declaration, signifying its quest for complete independence from British rule.

Context of the 1920s

  • Non-Cooperation Movement: The 1920s witnessed the aftermath of the Non Cooperation Movement and the Chauri Chaura incident, which prompted Mahatma Gandhi to temporarily halt non-violent protests.
  • Rise of Leaders: This period saw the emergence of notable leaders like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vallabhai Patel, and C. Rajagopalachari, setting the stage for India’s future freedom struggle.

Simon Commission and Nehru Report

  • Simon Commission: In 1927, British authorities appointed the Simon Commission to discuss political reforms in India, sparking nationwide protests with slogans like “Simon Go Back.”
  • Nehru Report: In response, the Indian National Congress (INC) established its own commission under Motilal Nehru, advocating dominion status for India within the British Empire.

Internal Disagreements: Dominion or Republic?

  • Dominion Status Debate: While the Nehru Report called for dominion status, leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru favored complete independence, fearing that dominion status would align India with colonial exploitation in the British Empire.
  • Change in Gandhi’s Views: Initially supporting dominion status, Mahatma Gandhi’s stance evolved as he began advocating for complete independence.

Irwin Declaration and Backtracking

  • Irwin Declaration: In 1929, Viceroy Irwin vaguely promised dominion status for India, which sparked hope among Indians but faced opposition in Britain.
  • Backtracking: Under pressure from Britain, Irwin retracted his promise during a meeting with Indian leaders, leading to growing unity within the INC for complete independence.

Declaration of Poorna Swaraj

  • Lahore Session of INC: In December 1929, during the Lahore Session of the INC, the “Poorna Swaraj” resolution was passed, calling for complete independence from British rule.
  • Official Promulgation: On January 26, 1930, this declaration of independence was officially announced, marking a pivotal moment in India’s freedom struggle.
  • Nonviolent Protest: The resolution also affirmed the Gandhian principles of nonviolent protest, which became integral to the subsequent struggle for independence.

Republic Day in Post-Independence India

  • Celebrating Independence: From 1930 until India’s independence in 1947, January 26 was celebrated as “Independence Day” or “Poorna Swaraj Day,” symbolizing India’s commitment to sovereignty.
  • Constitution Adoption: When India adopted its Constitution, leaders chose January 26 for Republic Day, as it held historical significance and aligned with the ideals of complete independence as articulated in the “Poorna Swaraj” declaration.
  • Symbolism: Today, Republic Day commemorates India’s journey to self-rule and reflects the principles enshrined in its Constitution.

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