Why January 26 is more important than August 15

ALOK PRASANNA writes from Hyderabad: The dominant image of Republic Day that tends to stick in one’s mind is that of soldiers marching in step, tanks and artillery rumbling down the Raj Path, and aircraft flying in formation over our heads.

While some would question whether this is the appropriate way for the State to commemorate the day India became a Republic, I would like to ask a different question: How do we commemorate the day we became the citizens of a Republic?

Honouring those who risk their lives on our borders, and those who have given their lives defending them, is a noble thing to do. However, while soldiers defend our borders, protect our lives and, on occasion, keep the nation together in times of crisis, they cannot ‘defend’ the Republic.

The Republic of India requires far more numerous and vigilant defenders: us.

While on the 15th of August 1947, we made a clean break from the past, on the 26th January, 1950, “We, the People of India,” charted our course for the future. Our Constitution, which came into force, then, is not just about what the Government of the day should or should not do.

It is about what “We, the People of India,” must not give up or lose, at any cost: our freedoms.

A brief look across the world shows that many peoples have gotten Independence without getting Freedom, or have gotten Freedom and lost it at the hands of tyrants and oppressors. It has been robbed in the name of various gods, divine or otherwise, and even today; there are those who are still trying to rob it from us. We rarely lose our freedoms in one go, but let them go gradually, one by one, until we wake up one day and realize they have been taken away from us.

So, on this day, my humble request, to you my fellow Indian citizens, is to honour and commemorate that which gave us our freedoms: the Constitution.

Yes, it has been amended and modified, and parts of it deleted and routinely neglected. Yet, we can celebrate this day with a simple exercise that re-acquaints us with the Constitution and its ideals:

Read aloud the Preamble to the Constitution, as it stood on 26 January 1950. Read it carefully and slowly. And if you know someone who can’t, read it out to them, or better yet, teach them to read it and remember it.

The Preamble as it stood on 26th January, 1950:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN 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 them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation;


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17 Responses to “Why January 26 is more important than August 15”

  1. Anonymous Guy Says:

    ‘teach them to read it and remember it’

    Wish we could make our politicians remember every time they indulge in harmful, foolish, selfish acts…

  2. Narayana Says:

    Can we call some one Rai Bahadur from Jan 26th?

  3. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    You mean from Jan 26th of 1950?
    No. Constitution abolished all such titles, but you may call one just for the namesake, but the land and privileges that came with the title is lost.

  4. Jayan Says:

    @ Alok Prasanna:
    Agreed. Understanding and appreciating the purpose of our Constitution is an obvious necessity. Making everyone in this country know it is also necessary for a healthy republic. But, I am wondering why u choose to ignore the two Amendments that were made to the Preamble?

  5. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    He is speaking about the day India became republic, so naturally the preamble quoted, is the version that came into being on that eventful day.

    You could have added about the amended text in your comment!

  6. Nastika Says:

    Pardon my ignorance, the difference between 26 Jan & 15 Aug is that of President vs PM doing the honours at Delhi.

  7. Jayan Says:

    @Not a Witty Nick:
    Yes, I understand that. My question is out of curiosity to know if the author has a specific reason in asking to read and remember an initial, unamended version of the preamble when a couple of them have been made and ‘in effect’ for last 3 decades.

    Here goes.. the 2 amendments to the preamble are marked here.

  8. Alok Says:


    The obvious reason Not a Witty Nick has stated is true. On 26th January, we are commemorating the Constitution coming into force, and no part of the document better embodies its principles better than the Preamble as it stood then. In 1950, it was a symbol of our hope for the future, and as we go ahead, we need to remind ourselves of the values we cherish.

    The Amendment to the preamble (or more specifically, the 42nd Amendment which, among other things, introduced these two changes into the preamble) on the other hand, is a reminder of what happens when we ignore the Constitutional values.

    The amendment was an attempt to subvert the very freedoms that the Preamble talks about by attacking the Constitution itself (and it was nothing short of an attack on the Constitution as we know it).

    The insertion of the words in the Preamble was done to mask the real intentions behind the 42nd Amendment; concentration of power in fewer hands, and reduction in people’s liberties in the name of the people themselves. It was a blatant effort to confuse us as to what our Constitutional values were, and convince us that freedoms and limited rule are not important when we have to meet developmental goals.

    Simply put, where the Constitution says people shall have their bread and freedoms, and one shall not be sacrificed at the altar of the other, the 42nd Amendment says that freedoms don’t matter when it comes to bread.

  9. tarlesubba Says:

    thanks alok for making the distinction about independence and freedom.

    an year full of freedom to all.

  10. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Our preamble is so beautiful. The socialist word makes me gag however.

  11. Narayana Says:

    No I meant someone is going to call himself Rai Bahadur from Jan 26th 2008.

    I meant sahukarru is going to call himself Rai Bahadur Sahukarru instead of Padma Vibhushana Sahukarru. Because..

    My company is a global company.. I employ Englishman. When they ruled Rai Bahadur was second highest title of India. So I want to be called Rai Bahadur logic… hi hi hi.

  12. Ramesh Gowda Says:

    26 January is a more important day than 15 August because it is on 26 January that the Kannada speaking people of the world ignorantly accepted two books which decide their fate (one in Hindi and the other in English), books in whom it was written that Kannada is the language of a lesser God, Kannadigas the children of a lesser God, Karnataka the state of a lesser God.

    26 January is a more important day than 15 August because it is on 26 January that there exists an environment which urges Kannadigas to open the English version of those books and read for themselves the glory of the lesser God.

    26 January is a more important day than 15 August because it is on 26 January that India has an opportunity to set right historical wrongs, become a true federal system and take on the rest of the world.

    But nobody understands.

  13. Jayan Says:

    ;), thats what i wanted.

  14. Melange Says:

    I will stick my neck out for this one. There is one question here that needs to be asked: Was India even necessary? The Indian form of governance is a failure. A failure for millions stuck in archaic ways of living with no hope for even rudimentary forms of sustenance. This failure reflects on the documents that defined the blue print for the republic.

    The Indian constitution was an excuse for a few elite to rule a vast territory of diverse and incompatible peoples as though it were a personal fiefdom. The failure of India is due the death of imagination and individualism. The Indian constitution failed to provide nourishment for both of them. India has suffered due to the lack of decentralization of her “democracy”.

    India might have been better off as a commonwealth of independent states.
    India has historically been a geographic territory with a zillion kingdoms. Yes, TN and Karnataka might have fought a few wars, but, wars are not necessarily bad : There is a peace between equals and the dominance of the strong that also leads to peace.

    A commonwealth would have let each state pursue her own interests and governance. There would be no more insider-outsider issues. One would not have to wait on some asshole sitting in New Delhi to get things done. Most states would do well under such a model and a few will go under. But, I think the results would have been a lot better than what we see with 60 years of the Indian republic.

  15. Mahesh Vijapurkar Says:

    The Left of Centre newspaper The Hindu describes a guy from Arcot as “Prince of Arcot” as if the country is not a republic even in this era, for instance, as in http://www.thehindu.com/2009/05/24/stories/2009052453960400.htm !!

  16. rajachandra Says:

    Mr. MV, there was no faux pas in what The Hindu has described!

    Tamil Nadu being the successor state to Madras Presidency is obliged to honour all its past obligation as per Art.294.

    In 1867, Azim Jah Bahadur, the uncle of the last Nawab of Arcot, Ghulam Muhammad Ghouse Khan, was nominated as the Prince of Arcot by the British and granted an annuity of Rs. 3 lakh of which parts were to be paid to his heirs in perpetuity along with various privileges.

    When India became Independent unlike other Indian States there was no real Arcot state ruled by a real King. As such there was no Instrument of Accession then. Neither was there a merger covenant when India became a Republic. As such constitutional guarantees of Art. 291, Art 362 & Art. 366 given to the Indian Rulers did not apply to Prince of Arcot. Incongruity of this dichotomy was when the above provisions were abolished by the 26th amendment to Constitution in 1971, all the Indian Rulers lost their privy purse, title and privileges but Prince of Arcot stood unassailed by such ignominy !

    Such is the irony of our Constitution that we have broken the solemn constitutional guarantees given by the founding fathers of our constitution to the Indian rulers but are still legally bound to honour the guarantees given by a British Viceroy to the heirs of an expropriated kingdom!

  17. Celine Says:

    Great post.
    I too think the Republic Day is more important than the Independence Day.

    “The Republic of India requires far more numerous and vigilant defenders: us.” – absolutely!


    My answer:

    “I shall remember that the outbursts of emotions and fervour of patriotism is not to be abused but to remember that a person is not bound by a certain area of land, mountains, rivers or woods, but has a connection and allegiance with the humanity of the whole world.”

    From my blog post of yesterday

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