First Republic Day in Calcutta

C V Krishnamurthi
Editor’s note: This article is taken from the website of India’s Press Information Bureau, published in 2000. The author is identified as C.V. Krishnamurthi, Senior Journalist, Bangalore.

Ethereal sense lasts longer only because it is an image of experience. It is an Upanishadic thought. Such a thought flows from living with an objective reality in mind as the great Kanchi Sankaracharya had once explained in a discourse.

The Republic Day in 1950, to me is an image of this. It was a transformation from ‘His Majesty’ to a Republican majesty.

Calcutta, the city of palaces, was my habitat at that time. I was a stringer of Hindustan Standard which closed down three decades ago. A short critique in this paper dwelling on a flash back of the memorable Lahore resolution affirming Republic Day on 26th of January reminds me now after over 50 years of the reality of the growth of the Indian Defence Services. I became nonetheless emotional. The All India Radio gave the commentary and the commentator was none other than Melville de' Mello, the celebrated broadcaster of the bygone era.

The thrust of my comments ran thus in Bengali: "Calcutta was in its own, an emotional city\; people chanted ‘shakti na holey, mukti na hobey' i.e., without strength you cannot attain freedom and marched in the broad Chowringhee Maidan. The Ochterloney monument and the expanse of the Maidan witnessed people in a mood of self-indulgence singing Tagore`s songs. Wounds had healed after the massive blood bath on 16th August, 1946. Sheer emotion united the populace. At Kalighat, temple bells chimed. For the State of West Bengal there was the first national salute by sections of the armed forces from the historic Fort William.

Calcutta had its own quota of flag marches by the police and platoons from the Fort William. At this point of time I may refer to another glorious celebration of the ushering in of Independence on 15th August, 1947. At the Ochterloney monument, in August 1947, Rajaji, the first Indian Governor of West Bengal and its first Chief Minister, Profulla Ghosh, cheered the large crowds by telling the people "sooner you will be enthralled by becoming the Republic". Nostalgic, yet a reality for a vintage journalist that I am.


Enjoyed reading, Good record of historic occasion

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