When the President of India takes the salute as the Supreme Commander at the Republic Day parade, he sends out a message to the forces to be prepared for any eventuality, and the celebration is a show of strength, former President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.The President was speaking after receiving a copy of coffee table book "The Grandeur of Republic Day Celebrations - India - A Kaleidoscope of Cultural and Military Heritage".The 300-page book contains pictures of the Republic Day parade, from the first one in 1950 to the present.Talking about the history and traditions of the Republic Day, the former President said: "The President of India takes salute as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. In doing so, he alerts the Army, Navy and the Air Force to be prepared to meet any eventuality until further orders...""It is an occasion of show of strength, when the country displays its arms, weapons and new defence acquisitions. Since it is ceremonial and cannot last long, on the day of Beating Retreat on January 29, the President summons the three wings of the armed forces and permits them to retreat," he said.
Mukherjee also highlighted the historical importance of choosing January 26 as the day for adopting the Constitution, as on the same day in 1930, the Indian National Congress in its session at Lahore had adopted the resolution of "Poorna Swaraj" -- complete self-rule, as approved by then Congress President Jawaharlal Nehru."Mahatma Gandhi himself declared 26th January as the Independence Day or as 'Sankalp for Swatantrata Diwas' and 1931 onwards, this was observed as the 'Swatantrata Sankalp Diwas' every year including in 1947-48," he said."Although, as agreed, power was transferred on the midnight of August 14-15, 1947 and that day began to be celebrated as Independence Day, the Constituent Assembly felt that 26th January should reflect its rightful historical importance and hence it was chosen to be the Republic Day," he added.The book has contributions from veteran photographer Rupinder Khullar, Purnima Sharma, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Balraj Singh Nagal, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Rakesh Sharma, Director General of All India Radio Sitanshu Kar and Reeta Khullar, among others.