India’s journey from being a crown jewel colony to a resilient republic was by no means a smooth one. It is the story of a country that found pride in it’s diversity, and founded a new identity for itself. This is why, January 26, India’s Republic Day celebrates the ideals of it’s constitution and it’s people : through cultural heritage tableaus, honouring the defence forces, the brave and all those who contributed to the country’s growth. At the heart of the celebration-venue is a museum that documents the “defenders of the constitution” that we so proudly gave to ourselves : the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum.
Take a look at these 4 objects at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum that recount India’s first Republic Day (1950):
K.K Hebbar’s Paintings of Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Hebbar’s works have been known to often depict political and social themes. In these paintings, K.K Hebbar captures two very special moments in the making of the Indian Republic and immortalizes the commitment of India’s most prominent country-makers.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad addressing the Constituent Assembly
As the President of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad delivered an inspiring speech summarizing the Assembly’s hopes from the Indian Republic. Here’s an excerpt :
“Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it. It is a trite saying that a country can have only the Government it deserves. Our Constitution has provision in it which appear to some to be objectionable from one point or another. We must admit that the defects are inherent in the situation in the country and the people at large. If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity, they would be able to make the best even of a defective Constitution.”
Giving ourselves a Constitution
On January 24, 1950, the members of the Constituent Assembly signed the Constitution. The iconic moment has been captured by K.K Hebbar. Who all can you spot?
A gift from the Indonesian President, Dr. Sukarno
On India’s first republic day, the Chief Guest was none other than the first-Indonesian president, Dr. Sukarno. This gift from him, accepted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, is a symbol of India’s positive diplomacy-efforts and a long-standing relationship with Indonesia. This handicraft is known to be native to the Moluccas and Ambon regions of Indonesia. Interestingly, Clove-made ships were popular a colonial souvenir in the 1950’s. India’s relationship with Indonesia can be traced as far back as 400B.C when along with trade, Hinduism and Buddhism too, traveled to Indonesia. Later, Indian merchants are known to have introduced Islam in Indonesia.
A copy of Telegram from the US President, Harry S Truman addressed to Dr. Rajendra Prasad
On the 66th Republic Day, the U.S President Barack Obama presented this copy of a congratulatory telegram sent on the occasion of India becoming a ‘Republic’.
While India-U.S relations go back a long way a particularly interesting bit of information is revealed in the documents of the Atlantic Charter (1941). Read more about it in this post by The Quint.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum
The museum tells the story of India through the eyes of it’s Presidents. The well-curated galleries, with an appropriate mix of art and technology warrant a 1 hour visit at the very least, and a 2-hour visit in case you’re interested in exploring it in-depth.
Open from 9:30am – 4:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.