Jai hind – long live India!

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What’s this?

There’s nothing special about this image at all, but it’s the only photo I’ve taken of the Indian flag, and today is Republic Day in India, a very important day in the Indian calendar. Republic Day celebrates the Constitution of India, which came into force on the 26th of January 1950. It replaced the British imposed Government of India act, which had been law since 1935. Following the Indian independence movement, noted for largely peaceful non-violent resistance and civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi, India gained her independence from Britain in August 1947 after British India was divided into modern-day India and Pakistan. An Assembly was formed and a draft constitution was discussed for nearly 3 years before final copies in both English and Hindi were signed in January 1950 and became law. By 1950 India had a population of approximately 360 million, an extraordinary amount of extremely varied people to keep in mind when writing a constitutaion with which to govern them!

Unlike Australia Day in my country, which also falls on the 26th of January and on which it’s common for people to have barbeques, watch fireworks and drink beer, Republic Day in India is a more serious and formal affair during which there’re great displays of military might, speeches and cultural programmes.

Here’s something I found interesting: each Republic Day parade has a chief guest, a head of state or government of another country whom has been invited by the Indian government to attend. The first female chief guest, as far as I can see, was Queen Elizabeth II, in 1961.  Australia’s only chief guest was Prime Minister Malcom Fraser in 1979, and the United States’ only chief guest was President Barak Obama in 2015. This year’s chief guest will be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.

Are you wondering what the colours in the Indian flag represent? Saffron (NOT orange!) represents courage and sacrifice, white represents peace and truth, and green represents faith and chivalry. The navy blue symbol in the centre represents a traditional spinning wheel, symbolising Mahatma Gandhi’s goal of making Indians self-reliant by making their own clothing. 

Where’s this?

Red Fort (Lal Quila in Hindi), Delhi, India’s capital city. This spectacular fort was constructed from red sandstone in 1639 by the 5th Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan – you may know him better as the man behind the Taj Mahal! It was was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

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