The Constitution of India came into being on January 26, 1950. This was the day on which was held the first Republic Day parade. It was commanded by a tall and handsome Brigadier (later Lt Gen and an Army Commander) Joginder Singh Dhillon from the Corps of Army Engineers. I was serving in the Army at that time and Brigadier Dhillon was our Brigade Commander in 1951. What I know of that parade is that it was led by the Navy and not the Army because of some confusion. However, I do not claim to be sure of this fact.
Since 1950, the historic Rajpath has become synonymous with the January 26 parade. It was quite in the fitness of things to celebrate the formation of our Republic for a few years to bring joy to all Indians. But to continue doing so seems to be divorced of logic. India, barring France, is perhaps the only democracy which focuses on its military prowess on the day of national rejoicing. Such a display on January 26 serves only two purposes. One, to make it abundantly clear to our adversaries that militarily we are strong and capable. Two, to restore confidence in the public about our military strength and capabilities to thwart any mischief by the enemy.
Today, with a major breakthrough in information technology, there is hardly any worthwhile information about the hardware of any country that remains hidden from the others. In any case military might needs to be exhibited on the battlefield and not on a solemn national occasion.
Now think of the colossal expenditure that we incur on this extravaganza year after year by moving manpower and equipment from all over the country to Delhi and by tying it down to the national capital for about two months. We suffered heavy casualties in the Kargil war due to our outdated and poor equipment. And we are not better even today. Instead of wasting crores of rupees on this display of military might, we should spend this amount on equipping ourselves with the latest hardware and other equipment.
No doubt, Republic Day should continue to be celebrated, but certainly not in this manner. It should be celebrated as a day of rejoicing over our achievements, by rewarding the deserving for their good work and by honouring our soldiers for their gallant actions. We should also declare it as a day of pledge by all Indians to some national service that they would carry out during the ensuing year.
The writer is a retired Colonel and a defence columnist
BLURB: Republic Day should be celebrated as a day of rejoicing over our achievements, by rewarding the deserving for their good work and by honouring our soldiers for their gallant actions