India celebrated its 66th Republic Day on Monday with US President Barack Obama’s appearance as chief guest at the official celebrations in New Delhi and a large crowd of India’s
friends and supporters at a function in Budapest’s Kempinski hotel.
Republic Day commemorates the occasion on January 26, 1950 when India, after gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947, adopted its Constitution. Ambassador to Hungary Malay Mishra recounted in the Kempinski how the Constitution was a blend of nine different Constitutions from around the world and took three years to draft.
The document was actually begun in 1946, before shaking off the British Empire, and completed in November 1949. January 26 was already an auspicious day for India because in 1930 it was declared as Independence Day by no less than Mahatma Gandhi, the pre-eminent opponent of the Raj.
Ambassador Mishra said India is a young and nascent democracy but an old civilisation and now aspires under dynamic Prime Minister Marendra Modi, who took office last May, to be one of the most developed countries of the world.
The invitation of President Obama as chief guest in New Delhi marked the first visit by a US president to India’s Republic Day and Obama is also the first US president to visit the country twice while in office. Modi visited the US last September and Obama’s appearance for the military and cultural spectacle as it rolled down Raj Path in Delhi on Monday was a show of solidarity between the world’s two largest democracies.
The Kempinski function heard that the Indian Constitution had stood the test of time and provided the country with direction and stability. The Constitution had been subject to only minor amendment and its basic structure remained unchanged.
Guest of honour Dr. László Szabó, Hungary’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said India had the largest, most vibrant and probably fastest growing democracy in the world. Hungary had been one of the first to recognise India’s sovereignty and the two had established diplomatic relations in 1948, Szabó said. India was one of Hungary’s most important trade partners and other links included 200 Indian students coming to Hungary and 35 Hungarian students going the other way.