“The Resolution states that it is our firm and solemn resolve to have a sovereign Indian republic. You will well understand that a free India can be nothing but a republic,” announced Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on December 13 1946, as he sketched out the aims and objectives of the Constitution that he and his listeners were about to put together in the next three years. With 395 articles and 12 schedules, the Indian constitution is often believed to be the longest of its kind in the world. Coming into effect on January 26, 1950, the Constitution of India tied together the hitherto watery borders of the country and gave birth to the “sovereign democratic republic” that we celebrate each year in the most magnificent way.
Republic Day in India is not just a celebration of the birth of its Constitution, but also a commemoration of the day in which we consolidated the contesting ideas of the nation, and concluded upon the values it enshrined and the path it would take towards social, political and economic objectives. Testimony to the significance attached to the date is the spectacular scale at which the historic moment in honoured with a national holiday, ceremonial parades, the 21-gun salute to the national flag and exhibits by the armed forces.
Celebration of the republic, however, is not unique to India. More than 150 countries of the world are known to attach the word ‘republic’ against their names. The celebration of the values expressed in it is, therefore, considered a requisite part of building national pride. While for some countries, republic day is the moment at which the country in its current form was founded, there are others who commemorate it as the day on which a significant change took place in the governance of the country. Here is a list of five other countries who celebrate their versions of the Republic day with hues and themes unique to their land.
The birth of India was simultaneously accompanied with the birth of its neighbouring nation, Pakistan. The entwined histories of the two countries ensured that the values held up by the two countries were similar in some respects, and widely differing in many others. While the Indian administration held up cultural pluralism as a defining aspect of their governance, Pakistan took birth as the first Islamic Republic of the world. However, the values of the republic were considered by the nation builders on both sides of the border to be intrinsic to their respective countries’ growth.
Accordingly, Pakistan celebrates its Republic Day as Pakistan Resolution Day or Pakistan Day on March 23 every year. The date is believed to honour the date on which the historic Lahore Resolution was passed in 1940 and eventually the same day was chosen to adopt the constitution of the country. The three-day session held at Lahore between March 22 to March 24 in 1940 resulted in the political statement adopted by the Muslim league declaring the need for territorial readjustment of the subcontinent in a way that Muslim majority regions could be shaped in the form of a nation in its own right and in separation from Hindu-majority India. Sixteen years later, and nine years after the country’s Independence, the constitution of the country was adopted on March 23, 1956, marking the dominion’s transition to an Islamic Republic. Consequently, the governor-general was replaced by the president of Pakistan as the country’s ceremonial head.
Pakistan Day is celebrated with much pomp and mirth in Islamabad. Army and civilian parades and other kinds of exhibits are held and is followed with wreaths being placed on the mausoleums of Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
The second decade of the twentieth century was a period of great turmoil in China. Beginning with an armed mutiny at Wuchang, Hubei province, the spirit of revolution spread across the Chinese territory. The 1911 revolution, also known popularly as the Xinhai revolution, successfully brought down the long reign of the Qing dynasty. Under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, the Republic of China was born. Then on, the national day of China has been celebrated on October 10 each year.
However, between 1927 and 1947 the Chinese civil war erupted between the Republic of China’s government on one hand and the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong on the other. At the end of the war, the Communist Party began the People’s Republic of China of September 21, 1949. The party leaders and supporters then celebrated the birth of the new government on October 1, 1949 at Tiananmen Square. Since then, the Chinese celebrate the birth of their Republic on October 1 as their National day.
While the methods of celebrating October 1 in China have changed several times in the past decades. Since 2000, the National day in China is commemorated as a Golden Week, with a seven-day long public holiday. Raising of the national flag at Tiananmen Square, laying down long aisles of flowers along Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue, state dinners, fireworks and other cultural events are some of the highlights of the celebration.
After coming out of the Second World War in 1946 an institutional referendum was held at Italy to decide on the form of administration preferred by the citizens in the aftermath of the fall Fascism. Held on the basis of universal suffrage, the referendum produced more than 12 million votes in favour of a Republic and around 10 million votes against it. The Italian Republic, therefore, came into existence on June 2, 1946 and the day is commemorated each year as Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day).
The Republic Day in Italy is celebrated with military parade in the presence of the highest offices of the State. A laurel wreath is deposited on the tomb of the unknown soldier that is placed inside the Altare della Patria in Rome. Further there are concerts organised by the armed forces of the country.
The youngest republic of the world will be celebrating its tenth Republic Day on May 28. It commemorates the day on which the South Asian country transitioned from being a monarchy to a republic. The origins of modern Nepal can be traced to 1768 when Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the Kathmandu valley and unified individual principalities under the banner of one country. The monarchy passed on from one ruler to another until 2008. Celebration of the new found republicanism in Nepal is conducted in full spirit with a national holiday, ceremonial parades and cultural events.
Republic day in Kenya, popularly known as Jamhuri Day, takes place place on December 12 every year. In case of the East African country, Republic Day honours both the transition to a republican form of government and of independence from 70 years of colonial rule under the United Kingdom. Kenya was declared a British colony and protectorate on July 1, 1895.
The highlight of the Kenyan Republic Day is trooping of the colours ceremony that has been a tradition in British infantry regiments since the 17th century. It takes place at the Central Stadium in Nairobi and largely follows the British convention.