Rajendra Prasad

First Republic Day in Delhi and First President of India

Fauji Akhbar
Glimpses of the First Republic Day Celebrations and India's First President
Editor’s note. This article first appeared in Fauji Akhbar (now renamed Sainik Samachar) February 4, 1950. It was posted as pib.nic.in/archieve/others/2008/jan/r20080124011.pdf

Unforgettable scenes of enthusiasm and rejoicing marked the beginning of a new era in Indian History when the Republic of India was born with the swearing in of Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the as the first President.

At the most solemn ceremony, held in the brilliantly lit and high domes of Durbar Hall at Government House, India was declared a Sovereign Democratic Republic exactly at eighteen minutes past ten on the morning of Thursday, January 26, 1950. Six minutes later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad sworn in as the President.

The birth of Indian Republic and the installation of its first President were announced by a salute of 31 guns shortly after 10-30 a.m.

The simple and yet grand ceremony of the Durbar Hall, the excitement of hundreds of thousands of people lining the five-mile route through which the President drove in state and the spectacularly colourful parade at Irwin Stadium, where the President hoisted the Union Flag and took the salute, will remain in the peoples' memory for long.

Memories of the 1950s

Reginald Masssey


Reginald Massey

Reginald was born in Lahore before Partition. He writes books on various subjects pertaining to South Asia. A former London journalist, he now lives in Mid Wales with his actor wife Jamila. His latest book is Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the Forgotten Indian Martyrs, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi. A member of the Society of Authors, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In the 1950s, India suffered as Nehru initiated his Socialist Five Year Plans on the Soviet model.

Food production declined as did industrial production. Nehru wanted to make India a modern secular state with nuclear power stations, vast dams, steel mills and fertilizer factories. He memorably declared: “These dams, steel mills and fertilizer factories are our new temples.”

The common man, however, bore the burden of what came to be known as the Licence Raj. I remember that nothing could be imported. Refrigerators were rare as were radio sets. Pakistan had TV stations and television sets. They had Cadillacs and Fords. India had no TV, and the rich had to make do with the Hindustan Ambassador, a Birla version of the outdated Morris Oxford. However, thanks to Nehru, India eventually became a major industrial power, able to stand up on its own two feet.

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