New Delhi/Patna: As President Pratibha Patil gets ready to preside over the 61st Republic Day parade at Rajpath on Tuesday it's time to remember our first president Dr Rajendra Prasad.
Prasad was the man who flagged off India's remarkable journey as a democracy six decades ago.
India had gained Independent less than three years ago, the Indian Constitution had just taken shape and we were yet to become a Republic and the President was still to become the formal head of the state.
UNIQUE DISTINCTION: Rajendra Prasad was also the president of the Constituent Assembly.
Finally, the historic moment came on January 26, 1950 - Independent India's first Republic Day.
So what was it like 60 years ago? First president Babu Rajendra Prasad's grand daughter has a hazy memory of the event
"We were all there. There was a parade. I don't exactly remember where that parade was. There was a big function and lots of people had come," recollects Tara Sinha, Prasad's grand daughter.
So, India finally became a Republic. There wasn't going to be an interfering monarch.
"Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history, we find the whole of this vast land brought together under the jurisdiction of one Constitution and one Union which takes over responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women who inhabit it," Rajendra Prasad had said on January 26, 1950.
At a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan's Durbar Hall Governor General C Rajagopalachari proclaimed India as a Sovereign, Democratic Republic.
"After all the formalities, Rajagopalachari babu made him sit down in a tall chair," says Tara.
Prasad was also the president of the Constituent Assembly that spent three years in drafting a governing charter for India.
There were no foreign consultants involved in framing the 90,000-word Constitution
Those were glory days. For every Indian living in Delhi, the parade was a place to be. The nation was just three years old and had lost its ties with its colonial masters
It was a year of hope and confidence. The Asian Games which followed summed up the new Indian spirit.
Rare indeed was January 26 exactly 60 years ago.
(With inputs from Prabhakar Kumar)
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