The Indian government has invited President Cyril Ramaphosa to be the chief guest at the official Republic Day celebrations to be held in Delhi on January 26, 2019.
A delegation comprising of captains of industry, politicians, community, cultural and religious leaders will also be part of the delegation to celebrate India’s Republic Day.
The delegation will be led by MP Omie Singh.
The chief guest is always a head of state or government from a country that’s selected based on strategic, economic and political interests.
The inaugural chief guest, in 1950, was Indonesian President Sukarno.
In 2015, US president, Barack Obama became the first US president to be the chief guest at Republic Day.
The invitation reflected closer relations between India and the US, and an era of new trust between the two countries.
In 2019, in recognition of the close ties between India and South Africa president, Ramaphosa has been honoured as chief guest at India’s Republic Day on January 26 in New Delhi.
Prime minister, Narendra Modi said, “The upcoming visit of President Ramaphosa will further cement business and people to people ties between India and South Africa.”
He added, “At a time, when India is marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, it is our honour to welcome President Ramaphosa as the Chief Guest for the 2019 Republic Day celebrations. Bapu’s close links with South Africa is well known.”
Indeed Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the first Parvasi having returned from South Africa after a long humanitarian campaign on January 9, 1914 – the date on which PBD is usually held in India.
Republic Day marks India’s adoption of a republic constitution (with a president rather than a monarch) on January 26, 1950, after gaining of independence from British rule in 1947.
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India fought a long and hard battle for freedom from the British Empire. Known as the Indian Independence Movement, the battle spanned 90 years, starting from the large-scale Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British East India Company in the northern and central parts of the country.
During the later decades of the movement, Mahatma Gandhi led a successful strategy, piloted in South Africa, of non-violent protests and withdrawal of cooperation against British authority.
In addition to many deaths and imprisonments, independence came at a price — the 1947 Partition of India, in which the country was split along the line of religious majorities and Muslim-dominated Pakistan came into being.
Although India officially gained independence from the British on August 15, 1947, it still wasn’t entirely free of them.
The country remained a constitutional monarchy under King George VI, who was represented by Lord Mountbatten as the Governor General of India.
Lord Mountbatten appointed Jawaharlal Nehru to be the first Prime Minister of independent India. In order to move forward as a republic, India needed to draft and implement its own Constitution as the governing document.
The work was headed by doctor, Babasaheb Ambedkar, and the first draft was completed on November 4, 1947.
It took almost three years for the Constituent Assembly to finally ratify it though. This occurred on November 26, 1949, but the Assembly waited till January 26, 1950 to put the new Constitution of India into effect.