Republic Day of India – 26 January

The Republic Day of India is a national holiday celebrated on 26th January every year, to commemorate the inception of the Constitution of India. It replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India as soon as it came into effect on 26 Jan in 1950. Thus the Republic Day commemorates the transformation of India from a colonial state to a completely independent republic. Republic Day holds much significance for Indian masses as it is the day when the nation became completely self-ruled after almost two centuries of subjugation.

What was Special about Republic Day 2020

  • The President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro, as the chief guest of the event, was very pleased to be a part of such an auspicious occasion in India.
  • The prime minister of India started the day by paying tribute to the martyrs of India at the National War Memorial instead of Amar Jawan Jyoti.
  • 49 children from the entire country, comprising 18 girls and 31 boys, were awarded Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Purashkar 2020.
  • The Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu led the celebration at Mohrabadi Ground in Ranchi district.
  • The celebration in West Bengal was made at Red Road in Kolkata. The governor of the state Jagdeep Dhankhar was leading the celebration, the chief minister of the state Mamta Banarjee was also a part of the celebration.
  • The day was also celebrated in Maharashtra in the presence of the governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
  • The governor of Tamilnadu Banwarilal Purohit led the celebration at Marina in Chennai.
  • The Uttarakhand government will honor 58 Policemen of the states for their excellent work. 8 will be conferred Governor's Outstanding Service Medal, Outstanding Service Honour to eight and Meritorious Service Award for 42.
  • Female Battalion Bikers of Central Reserve Police Force showcased their prowess this year.

History of Republic Day of India

India’s struggle for independence has spanned over almost two centuries since 1857. Finally, on 15th August 1947, the day came when India gained independence from British rule; though partially, as the country was still to be governed as a Constitutional Monarchy with George VI as the head of state and Earl Mountbatten as the Governor-General. By that time India didn’t have its own constitution but was rather governed by the Government of India Act 1935.

On 29th August 1947, a constitution drafting committee was appointed under the chairmanship of B.R. Ambedkar. Henceforth, a draft constitution was prepared by the drafting committee and submitted to the Constituent Assembly on 4th November 1947. After making necessary changes and modifications, the Constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950. As the Constitution of India came into effect, it automatically nullified the 1935 Government of India Act; transforming India into an independent Republic governed by its own people.

How Do We Celebrate Republic Day?

Republic Day in India is celebrated enthusiastically with patriotic zeal and nationalistic fervor. Being a mandatory national holiday, everyone from students to professionals celebrates the day completely with absolute devotion.

A Grand Celebration in National Capital at Rajpath, India Gate

A grand Republic Day celebration takes place at the national capital New Delhi. The main celebration of republic day is held at Rajpath, a ceremonial road running from the President’s house in Raisina hills to the National War Memorial (India) also known as India Gate.

From India Gate, the Prime Minister arrives at Rajpath and heads to the dais prepared for the Chief Guest and the President. Soon after the Prime Minister, occupying the dais, the Vice President of India arrives and he is received by the Prime Minister himself. All of them together witness the event and be a part of this ceremony.

  • Flower Tribute at Amar Javan Jyoti by PM

On Republic Day, before the commencement of the parade, the Prime Minister of India arrives at the Amar Jawan Jyoti along with the chiefs of all three defense forces – Army, Navy and Air Force.  They take their turns in paying their respect to the fallen soldiers of India.

  • Flag Hoisting by President & National Anthem

Finally, the President of India arrives with the Chief Guest, escorted by the legendary President’s Bodyguard also known as PBG. President hoists the national flag following the singing of National Anthem and distribution of gallantry awards by the President to the soldiers of Indian forces.

  • 21 Gun Salute on Republic Day

Many of us know that India holds the tradition of giving 21 gun salutes on Republic Day; what most of us don’t know is to whom the salute is given and other minute details.

Gun salute is the highest honor any nation can bestow on a visiting dignitary. In India, 21 gun salute is accorded to the constitutional head – the President, when he takes the oath of office and also on republic Day when the nation greets a very dear friend in form of Chief Guest.

True that India adopted the tradition of 21 Gun Salute from the British era when the same was done to honor a visiting member of crown or Viceroys. Nevertheless, the tradition is now our very own.

But, do you know that the shots are perfectly synchronized with the National Anthem and the gun from which they are fired? The guns are operated by the soldiers of elite 871 field regiment and only vintage artillery is used. Also, the 21 cannons are subsequently fired at a precise interval of 2.25 seconds so that the salute covers the complete national anthem which takes around 52 seconds. Guns are fired in three successive rounds with each round firing seven cannons.

  • Award Distribution

Generally, there are various awards distributed on the occasion of Republic day like Highest Civilian Awards, Gallantry awards, etc. But some of the awards are given on the Rajpath, whereas the others are given at President’s house. Awards likeParam Vir Chakra (PVC), Mahavir Chakra (MVC) and Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, etc. are given on this occasion by the President of India.

Chief Guest at Republic Day Parade

India has kept the tradition of inviting a foreign head of state as Chief Guest of its Republic Day celebrations, ever since 1950. The guest is strategically chosen after making an assessment of political and economic interests.

Between the 1950s to 1970s, a number of heads of states from the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries and Eastern Bloc were invited as Chief Guest on Republic Day. In 1968 and then in 1974 India simultaneously had invited two heads of states. In 1968, Chairman Alexei Kosygin of the Soviet Union and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia were invited.

Similarly, in 1974, President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia was once again invited along with Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, as the Chief Guest on Republic Day.

In 2020, the chief guest of the republic day parade was a Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro' (Brazilian politician and retired military officer).

Republic Day Parade Event

A grand Republic day parade is performed at the Rajpath, India Gate while celebrating the day. People all over the country as well as abroad enjoy live webcasts of the event celebration in Delhi on their TV at home. In this parade, almost all the states, every wing of Indian armed forces, India paramilitary forces, and school students participate in the parade and present a Jhanki at Rajpath.

The preparations actually begin months in advance. The parade includes a display of India’s military power, cultural heritage, and brotherhood. The events are witnessed by thousands of citizens, school children, and several dignitaries including the Hon’ble President of India, Prime Minister of India, and the Chief Guest.

Importance of Republic Day

Republic Day is important because on this day we adopted our Constitution in the year 1950. We got independence from the British after 200 years and when we became independent, we needed our own Constitution. It was 26 November 1949 when the making of the constitution got ready, but it was chosen 26 January 1950 to implement it. We celebrate this day because we Indians got our fundamental rights, the right to live freely in our own nation. We got independence on 15 August but in the true sense, we got freedom on 26 January 1950, in terms of our rights.

Beating the Retreat Ceremony

Beating Retreat is a ceremony held three days after the Republic Day that is on 29th Jan to officially declare the closure of Republic Day celebrations. The ceremony takes place in the evening at Vijay Chowk in Raisina Hills. The performance is made by the bands of all three forces of the Indian military – the air force, the army, and the navy.

The Chief Guest of beating retreat ceremony is the President of India and he arrives at the venue escorted by President’s Body Guards (PBG). The commander of the PBG asks his contingent to give national salute followed by the singing of the National anthem. The military bands play some of the most popular tunes like “Abide With Me” and “Saare Jahan Se Acchaha” among others.

Beating the Retreat Ceremony 2020 Special

  • A total of 15 military bands and 16 Pipes and Drums Bands performed during the Beating the Retreat Ceremony 2020.
  • There were overall 26 performances by the bands of Armed Forces and the Central and State Police Contingents.
  • Tunes like “Abhiyan”, “Ganga Jamuna” and “Nritya Sarita” were played by the bands.
  • 25 tunes like “Madhumari”, “Jauna Solti” and “Vijay Bharat”; etc, composed by Indian musicians were played.
  • The Inter-Services Guards were given the command by the Wing Commander Vipul Goyal.
  • The march of the Air Force in Beating the Retreat Ceremony 2020 was led by Flight Lieutenant Shrikant Sharma.
  • After the ceremony, the North and south blocks on Raisina Hills were lit up with lights of the Tricolor.
  • The retreating military bands played the tune of “Sare Jahan se Accha”.
  • Flying Officer Rupachandra was the Principal conductor of the Beating the Retreat Ceremony 2020.
  • Risalda Major Rajendar Singh was the conductor of the Army Military Band.
  • The conductor of the Navy band was Master Chief Petty Officer Vincent Johnson.
  • The Air Force band was conducted by Junior Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar.

Complete List of Republic Day Chief Guests from 1950 to 2020

I have tried my best to give you a year-wise list of Chief Guests of Republic Day, ever since the first Republic Day celebration in 1950. The list contains the name of the Chief Guest, his/her country and the year of invitation.

Year Guest Name Country
2020President Jair Bolsonaro Brazil
2019Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa
2018 Sultan and incumbent Prime Minister, Hassanal Bolkiah
Prime Minister, Hun Sen
President, Joko Widodo
Prime Minister, Thongloun Sisoulith
Prime Minister, Najib Razak
President, Htin Kyaw
President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President, Halimah Yacob
Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha
Prime Minister, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Brunei
Cambodia
Indonesia
Laos
Malaysia
Myanmar
Philippines
Singapore
Thailand
Vietnam
2017 Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Abu Dhabi
2016 President, Francois Hollande France
2015 President, Barack Obama USA
2014 Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe Japan
2013 King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Bhutan
2012 Prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra Thailand
2011 President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Indonesia
2010 President, Lee Myung Bak Republic of Korea
2009 President, Nursultan Nazarbayev Kazakhstan
2008 President, Nicolas Sarkozy France
2007 President, Vladimir Putin Russia
2006 King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud Saudi Arabia
2005 King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck Bhutan
2004 President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Brazil
2003 President, Mohammed Khatami Iran
2002 President, Cassam Uteem Mauritius
2001 President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika Algeria
2000 President, Olusegun Obasanjo Nigeria
1999 King, Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev Nepal
1998 President, Jacques Chirac France
1997 Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday Trinidad and Tobago
1996 President, Dr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso Brazil
1995 President, Nelson Mandela South Africa
1994 Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong Singapore
1993 Prime Minister, John Major United Kingdom
1992 President, Mário Soares Portugal
1991 President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Maldives
1990 Prime Minister, Anerood Jugnauth Mauritius
1989 General Secretary, Nguyen Van Linh Vietnam
1988 President, Junius Jayewardene Sri Lanka
1987 President, Alan Garcia Peru
1986 Prime Minister, Andreas Papandreou Greece
1985 President, Raúl Alfonsín Argentina
1984 King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck Bhutan
1983 President, Shehu Shagari Nigeria
1982 King, Juan Carlos I Spain
1981 President, Jose Lopez Portillo Mexico
1980 President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing France
1979 Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser Australia
1978 President, Patrick Hillery Ireland
1977 First Secretary, Edward Gierek Poland
1976 Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac France
1975 President, Kenneth Kaunda Zambia
1974 President, Josip Broz Tito Yugoslavia
1974 Prime Minister, Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike Sri Lanka
1973 President, Mobutu Sese Seko Zaire
1972 Prime Minister, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Mauritius
1971 President, Julius Nyerere Tanzania
1970 King of the Belgians Baudouin Belgium
1969 Prime Minister, Todor Zhivkov Bulgaria
1968 Prime Minister, Alexei Kosygin Soviet Union
1968 President, Josip Broz Tito Yugoslavia
1967 King Mohammed Zahir Shah Afghanistan
1966
1965 Food and Agriculture Minister, Rana Abdul Hamid Pakistan
1964 Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Louis Mountbatten United Kingdom
1963 King, Norodom Sihanouk Cambodia
1962 Prime Minister, Viggo Kampmann Denmark
1961 Queen, Elizabeth II United Kingdom
1960 President, Kliment Voroshilov Soviet Union
1959 Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip United Kingdom
1958 Marshall Ye Jianying People’s Republic of China
1957 Minister of Defence Georgy Zhukov Soviet Union
1956 Chancellor of the Exchequer, R. A. Butler Chief Justice, Kōtarō Tanaka United Kingdom Japan
1955 Governor General, Malik Ghulam Muhammad Pakistan
1954 King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Bhutan
1953
1952
1951 King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Singh  Nepal
1950 President, Sukarno Indonesia