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Why is the Indian flag hoisted on Independence Day but unfurled on Republic Day?

Key Highlights
  • The Flag is Hoisted on Independence Day from the bottom of the Flag post to the top to mark the country's independence from British Rule.
  • The Flag is tied on the top of the Flag Post and Unfurled on Republic Day, indicating that the country is already Independent.
  • The PM Hoists the Flag on Independence Day as the Head of the Government as there was no President in 1947. Since India became a Republic on January 26, 1950, the President of India is the Constitutional Head and Unfurls the Flag on Republic Day.

Significance
The 26th of January every year is celebrated as the Republic Day - to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India which came into effect on this day in the year 1950. In Indian political history, three dates hold special significance - 15th August, 1947 the day on which India won Independence; 26th November, 1949 as the day on which the Constitution of India was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly and 26th January, 1950 the day on which the Constitution of India came into force.

While the celebration of 15th August is a fairly obvious choice - it's a wonder why the members of the Indian Constituent Assembly chose to defer the enforcement of the Constitution of India by two months when the Constitution of India was adopted and enacted on 26th November 1949 itself.

What does Republic Day signify?

Since "freedom finally came on a day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiment," when the question of the adoption and enactment of the Constitution came up, many considered it necessary to celebrate the document on a day associated with National pride and turned to what would've otherwise been a natural choice - the 26th day of January to mark the Constitution formally coming into force.

On 26th January 1930, the Indian National Congress had proclaimed the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) rejecting the Dominion status offered by the British Regime. It was declared by the Congress party that January 26, 1930, will be celebrated as "Independence Day" by Indians. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the President of Congress party, hoisted the tricolor on the banks of the Ravi river in Lahore.

Scholars see the Purna Swaraj resolution as a critical component of the changing strategy of the Independence movement in engaging with the British: the demand for freedom now being made in the language of Justice and not charity. Keeping in mind this historic significance of the date, 20 years later, the 26th of January, 1950 was chosen to herald another important event that would change the history of India - the enactment of the Constitution of India that would transform the Nation into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic-to be celebrated as Republic Day.

January 26th is also the 'Poorna Swaraj Diwas' - the day Indian National Congress declared as 'Independence Day' in 1930. Post the actual Independence in August 1947, January 26 was chosen to mark Republic Day. The Tricolour is hoisted to commemorate the Independence Day or Swatantrata Diwas across the country. Interestingly, many do not know that we hoist the National Flag on Independence Day and Unfurl it on Republic Day.

Speaking of Independence and Republic Days, did you know that the Indian Flag is 'Hoisted' on Independence Day ('Azaadi Diwas') on August 15, and 'Unfurled' on Republic Day on January 26? The difference is that on Independence Day, the Flag is tied to the bottom of the Flag Pole and is 'Hoisted' to the top. This is to mark India's rise as an Independent Country and the end of British Rule. On Republic Day, the Flag is tied to the top of the Flag Pole and is 'Unfurled' indicating an open era for the country to spread its wings as a Republic.

Interestingly, many do not know that we hoist the National Flag on Independence Day and Unfurl it on Republic Day.

However, there is a difference between Hoisting a Flag on Independence day and Unfurling it on Republic Day. On Independence Day, the Indian Tricolour is tied at the bottom of the Flag Pole and then pulled up for Hoisting. Usually, the Prime Minister of India Hoists the Tricolour. This is done to mark the Independence of the country from the British Rule. On the other hand, during the Republic Day celebrations, the Flag is already tied up on the top and is Unfurled without pulling it up, which depicts that the country is already independent.

Another crucial difference is that the Prime Minister of India hoists the Flag on Independence Day as the Head of the Central Government. This is done since at the time of Independence, the Constitution of India was not in effect and the President of India, who is the Constitutional Head, did not take Office. However, on Republic Day, the President of India, who is the first citizen of the country, attends the Republic Day Official event and Unfurls the Flag.

Independence Day is observed as India became independent of British Rule on 15th August, 1947 after the Indian Independence Act was passed. It coincided with the partition of India on religious lines and a new country Pakistan came into existence. Republic Day is celebrated to commemorate the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26th Republic, 1950. The Constitution of India was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949 and came into effect on 26th January, 1950 with a democratic Government system.

But Why Is The Flag Hoisting Takes Place At The Red Fort On Independence Day?

When India got Independence, the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru celebrated the historic occasion by Hoisting the National Flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort. The massive complex of the 17th Century Monument had served as the main palace of the Mughal Empire till 1857, when the British overthrew Bahadur Shah Zafar, to start its direct Rule over India. Until then, the British ruled the country through the East India Company.

Also, there was a great rebellion by Indians in the year 1857. This had temporarily led to the British temporarily losing their control over some parts of Central and Northern India. The Red Fort and its occupant, Bahadur Shah Zafar, became one of the biggest symbols of the rebellion.

After Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Hoisting of the National Flag at Red Fort became a symbolic gesture and every Prime Minister after him has followed it to honour the freedom fighters and their sacrifices. The Flag Hoisting is also a symbol of National pride. The President of India also delivers a televised address to the Nation but that is done a day before Independence Day.

Positioning of the National Flag on the Pole

When the Tricolour is to be 'Hoisted' on Independence Day, i.e August 15, the Flag is tied and sits at the bottom of the Pole. The Prime Minister of the country raises the Flag up and Hoists it with the aim to honour the historical event of the day.

On the other hand, when the Tricolour is to be 'Unfurled' on Republic Day, i.e. January 26, the flag remains closed and tied up at the top of the Pole. The President of India unfurls it without pulling it up like it is done on Independence Day. The difference between the two ceremonies is because when India became Republic, it was already independent.

Who Hoists or Unfurls The Tricolour?

Prime Minister is the Head of the Government. He 'Hoists' the Flag on Independence Day. On the other hand, the President of India 'Unfurls' the Tricolour on Republic Day as the Constitutional Head and First Citizen of the country.

Where The Celebration Takes Place i. e Event Location?
On Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India hoists the Flag at the Red Fort in New Delhi. at Rajpath in the National On the other hand, the Republic Day ceremony of Unfurling the Flag by the President of India takes place Capital.

What All Activities Are Held On Independence Day?

One more difference between both days is the location of the events. On Independence Day, the Flag Hoisting ceremony takes place at the Red Fort in New Delhi followed by the Prime Minister's address to the Nation. On the other hand, the Republic Day ceremony of Unfurling the Flag by the President of India takes in the National Capital followed by Parades/Marches by the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Para-Military Forces including Boarder Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Tableau of the States, Artillery Display, etc and the President's address to the Nation.

Written By: Dinesh Singh Chauhan, Advocate - High Court of Judicature, J&K & Ladakh, Jammu.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

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