The reason behind the date fixing to January 26 for Republic Day in India is different. The Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution on November 26, 1949, however the Constitution’s effective date was set for January 26, 1950. Why is this so?

India’s Constitution went into effect on January 26, 1950, which has become a national holiday. Although the Constitution was officially adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, it was really prepared far earlier than the date chosen. Why then do we observe Republic Day on January 26? The history of the struggle for Indian independence, which began in 1930, has the solution.

The historic “Poorna Swaraj” statement was formally promulgated on January 26, 1930, kicking off the final stage of India’s liberation struggle with the aim of achieving total independence from British rule.

Republic Day in its historical context

In the wake of the Chauri Chaura tragedy in February 1922, the Non Cooperation Movement abruptly came to an end. At the time, Mahatma Gandhi believed that his nonviolent techniques of protest were “not yet ready” for the nation. As a result, the 1920s did not experience a similar level of mobilisation as the Non Cooperation Movement and the anti-Rowlatt Satyagraha.

But the 1920s weren’t at all unimportant. The 1920s laid the foundation for the future direction of India’s freedom struggle, from the rise of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad to the maturation of a new generation of Indian National Congress (INC) leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vallabhai Patel, and C Rajagopalachari.

Notably, the Simon Commission, a seven-person, all-European panel led by Sir John Simon, was created by British authorities in 1927 to consider political reforms in India. This caused resentment and discontent to spread across the nation. For the first time since 1922, anti-Simon Commission demonstrations gained national traction, with “Simon Go Back” shouts resonating all over the nation.

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In response, under Motilal Nehru, the INC established its own commission. India was to be given dominion status within the Empire, according to the Nehru Report. “Autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations,” was how the Balfour Declaration of 1926 defined dominions. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were given dominion status in 1926.

Disputes inside the Congress: Dominion or Republic?

Importantly, not everyone in the Congress agreed with the Nehru Report. Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal’s own son, and other young leaders sought India to break all ties with the British Empire. They argued that under dominion status, while India would enjoy a certain level of autonomy, the British Parliament and Crown would still have the ability to meddle in Indian affairs.

Importantly, for both Bose and Nehru, attaining dominion status would make India party to colonial exploitation elsewhere in the British Empire, mainly Africa. With a far more radical worldview than their predecessors, Bose and Nehru looked at anti-colonialism not only as a local political issue for India but in a more global lens.

Importantly, achieving dominion status would render India a party to colonial exploitation elsewhere in the British Empire, primarily in Africa, according to both Bose and Nehru. Bose and Nehru viewed anti-colonialism through a larger global lens rather than only as a local political concern for India, having a much more radical outlook than their predecessors.

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Gandhi was still strongly in favour of dominion status, though, and he claimed that it would be a positive step in India’s anti-colonial campaign. His opinions will eventually shift.

Viceroy Irwin breaks his promise.

Viceroy Irwin had hinted in 1929 that India will eventually be given dominion status. Known as the Irwin Declaration, it was enthusiastically embraced by Indians but met with fierce opposition in Britain.

India was viewed as the Empire’s crown jewel and the British populace was still pro-Empire. Importantly, with its large area, resources, and population being essential to its economy at a time when the global economy was in recession, India was undoubtedly Britain’s most valuable colony.

Irwin reneged on his promise as a result of pressure from his native country. In a meeting with Gandhi, Muhhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League, and a few other leaders, he said he could not guarantee India would soon have dominion status.

This would mark a turning moment in the debate because of how united the Congress was becoming. Indians backed ever-more “radical” objectives, the first of which was a totally independent republic, as the British were unable to implement even acceptable changes.

Declaration of Poorna Swaraj announcement of Poorna Swaraj

In December 1929, the INC’s Lahore Session met. The historic “Poorna Swaraj” resolution was approved in the assembly on December 19. The resolution, which was literally titled “complete self-rule/sovereignty,” stated that the British government in India had not only robbed the Indian people of their freedom but had also destroyed their country’s economy, politics, culture, and spirituality. As a result, India must break its ties to Great Britain and achieve Poorna Swaraj, or total independence.

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On January 26, 1930, this declaration of independence was formally promulgated. On that day, the Congress urged Indians to participate in “independence” celebrations. Congress party members raised the Indian tricolour across the nation, and the nation sang patriotic hymns reconfigured its strategy for Independence. The resolution also contained in it an affirmation to the Gandhian methods of nonviolent protest, which would start almost immediately after Poorna Swaraj Day was celebrated.

Republic Day in post-Independence India

January 26 was observed as “Independence Day” or “Poorna Swaraj Day” from 1930 till India eventually attained independence in 1947, with Indians reaffirming their devotion to sovereignty on that day.

On August 15, nevertheless, exactly two years after the Japanese gave up to the Allies to finish World War II, India declared her independence from the British. Freedom “finally came on a day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiment,” historian Ramchandra Guha observed.

As a result, January 26 was chosen by leaders as the best day to declare India’s new constitution. Not only did this anniversary have nationalist significance previously, but the Constitution also closely mirrored the “Poorna Swaraj” declaration from twenty years earlier.

Even though Poorna Swaraj Day festivities today appear significantly different from how they did during the British Raj, January 26 nonetheless serves as a sombre reminder of the struggle India endured to achieve independence. #hydnews #khabarlive #hydlive