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Why Was Independent India Declared a Republic?

When India sued for independence in 1947, the 1931 British Statute of Westminster should have seen the country continue to owe allegiance to the British crown as a condition of its retaining status as a member of the Commonwealth (Sing 469). Instead, a complex combination of the realities of Britain’s post-war political health, fear of the growing influence of the USSR, and religious sensibilities within India (Sarkar) resulted in India both declaring independence as a republic and retaining status as a member of the British Commonwealth (an act which continues to stand in direct contrast to other Afro-Asia protectorates such as Burma) (Bahl 247). The years of drafts and negotiations undertaken by the Indian National Congress to produce a constitution which would enable India to assert republic status are not the focus of this essay. Rather, I will attempt to examine the factors which made the creation of such a constitution both possible and desirable.

With the end of WWII, Britain was forced to confront the reality that neither the treasury nor the martial force enjoyed the strength and stability of the pre-war years. The USA and the USSR were the new superpowers and Britain was forced to navigate the dissolution of the Empire. Key to that dissolution was India: long a bastion of British power in the East and a crucial defense against the westward expansion of the USSR. There was no question of the Empire raising either the funds or military numbers needed to re-assert full authority over India (Sarkar 470) and the prospect of remaining a member of the Commonwealth under the traditional auspices (following the precedent set by Canada in 1867) was unpalatable to the Indian National Congress. Just as Britain could not afford to subdue India, India could not afford to force the issue of British sovereignty in the Commonwealth. To ensure India’s cooperation in supplying troops and a cooperative approach to border defense with the newly-created Pakistan, Britain was obligated to secede to India’s demands for independence (Sing 471). The “resolutions of the Pwurna Saraj” dictated that this independence take the form of a republic.

But British foreign policy was not the only factor involved in India’s pursuit of a republican state. If we accept the assertions of Sarkar, the “Hundi neeti-shastras… dharma-shastras… and epics… contain frequent discussions as to the restraints on royal absolutism, the responsibility of ministers and the authority of the people” (Sarkar 583). Thus, we can assume that republican sentiments had long been entrenched within Indian society. To the Hindu population, at least, the prospect of becoming a royal dominion must have stood in direct opposition to their religious philosophy, especially as the British history of violence and oppression within India would have clearly violated the Brahmic principal that a sovereign was only a sovereign if he acted for the protection of the Hindu people (Sarkar 584). There also appears to have been historic precedent: at least one of the clans of Ancient India utilized a political system of election and representation that to all intents and purposes seems to mirror the spirit of the modern democratic elections (Sarkar 589). This historic precedent, therefore, would appear to have paved the way for the democratic and republican sentiments of India in the mid-20th century. Thus, the formation of a republic must have seemed, therefore, a natural progression from the declaration of India as an independent nation.

In conclusion, whilst the social and political factors which led to India pursuing the path to independence are far too complex to be examined here, it seems reasonable to posit that two crucial principals led to the formation of an Indian republic rather than a commonwealth dominion. First, the weakening of Britain’s power on a global scale can hardly be said to have been the defining factor, but certainly appears to have been the reason why the Dominion of India was able to transition to a republic within the space of three years. Second, the historic tradition and interest in democratic principles alludes to the more complex underlying social sentiments that characterised much of the resistance to British rule in the early 20th century.

Works Cited

Bahl, A. K. “Significance of India’s Membership of Commonwealth.” The Indian Journal of
Political Science 20.3 (1959): 247-254. JSTOR. Jul 2017.
Sarkar, Benoy Kumar. “Democratic Ideals and Republican Institutions in India.” The
American Political Science Review 12.4 (n.d.): 581–606. JSTOR. Jul 2017.
Sing, Anita Inder. “Keeping India in the Commonwealth: British Political and Military Aims,
1947-49.” Journal of Contemporary History 20.3 (1985): 469-481. July 2017.

This page is about the Republic of India. For other uses, see India (disambiguation).

Republic of India

भारत गणराज्य
Bhārat Gaṇarājya

Motto: "Satyameva Jayate" (Sanskrit)
"Truth Alone Triumphs"

National song
Vande Mataram
"I Bow to Thee, Mother"[a][3]

Area controlled by India shown in dark green;
claimed but uncontrolled regions shown in light green.

CapitalNew Delhi
Largest cityMumbai
18°58′30″N72°49′33″E / 18.97500°N 72.82583°E / 18.97500; 72.82583
Official languagesHindi
Recognised regional languages
National languageNone[7][8]
Religion79.8% Hinduism
14.2% Islam
2.3% Christianity
1.7% Sikhism
0.7% Buddhism
0.4% Jainism
0.9% others[9][10]

• President

Ram Nath Kovind

• Vice-President

Venkaiah Naidu

• Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

• Chief Justice

Dipak Misra

• Speaker of the Lower House

Sumitra Mahajan
LegislatureParliament of India

• Upper house

Rajya Sabha

• Lower house

Lok Sabha
Independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

• Dominion

15 August 1947

• Republic

26 January 1950

• Total

3,287,263[11] km2 (1,269,219 sq mi)[b] (7th)

• Water (%)


• 2016 estimate

1,293,057,000[12] (2nd)

• 2011 census

1,210,854,977[13][14] (2nd)

• Density

395.9/km2 (1,025.4/sq mi) (31st)
GDP (PPP)2016 estimate

• Total

$8.727 trillion[15] (3rd)

• Per capita

$6,664[15] (122nd)
GDP (nominal)2016 estimate

• Total

$2.384 trillion[15] (7th)

• Per capita

$1,820[15] (141st)
Gini (2009)33.9[16]
medium · 79th
HDI (2014) 0.609[17]
medium · 130th
CurrencyIndian rupee (₹) (INR)
Time zoneIST(UTC+05:30)

• Summer (DST)

DST is not observed
Date formatdd-mm-yyyy
Drives on theleft
Calling code+91
ISO 3166 codeIN
Internet TLD


The Republic of India (Hindi: भारत गणराज्य) is a country in Asia. It is at the center of South Asia. India has more than 1.2 billion (1,210,000,000) people, which is the second largest population in the world.[19] It is the seventh largest country in the world by area and the largest country in South Asia. It is also the most populous democracy in the world.[20][21][22]

India has seven neighbours: Pakistan in the north-west, China and Nepal in the north, Bhutan and Bangladesh in the north-east, Myanmar in the east and Sri Lanka, an island, in the south.

The capital of India is New Delhi. India is a peninsula, bound by the Indian Ocean in the south, the Arabian Sea on the west and Bay of Bengal in the east. The coastline of India is of about 7,517 km (4,671 mi) long.[23] India has the third largest military force in the world and is also a nuclear weapon state.[24]

India's economy became the world's fastest growing in the G20 developing nations in the last quarter of 2014, replacing the People's Republic of China.[25] India's literacy and wealth are also rising.[26] According to New World Wealth, India is the seventh richest country in the world with a total individual wealth of $5.6 trillion.[27][28] However, it still has many social and economic issues like poverty and corruption. India is a founding member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and has signed the Kyoto Protocol.

India has the fourth largest number of spoken languages per country in the world, only behind Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Nigeria.[29] People of many different religions live there, including the five most popular world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The latter three religions came from the Indian subcontinent along with Jainism.

National Symbols of India[change | change source]

The National emblem of India shows four lions standing back-to-back. The lions symbolise power, pride, confidence, and courage (bravery). Only the government can use this emblem, according to the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005

The name India comes from the Greek word, Indus, ultimately derived from the word sindhu, which in time turned into Hind or Hindi or Hindu. The preferred native name or endonym is "Bharat" in Hindi and other Indian languages as contrasted with names from outsiders.

History[change | change source]

Main article: History of India

Two of the main Classical languages of the world— Sanskrit and Tamil, were born in India. Both of these languages are more than 3000 years old. The country founded a religion called Hinduism, which most Indians still follow. Later, a king called Chandragupt Maurya built an empire called the Maurya Empire in 300 BC. It made most of South Asia into one whole country.[31] From 180 BC, many other countries invaded India. Even later (100 BC  — AD 1100), other Indian dynasties (empires) came, including the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas, and Pandyas.[32] Southern India at that time was famous for its science, art, and writing. The Cholas of Thanjavur were pioneers at war in the seas and invaded Malaya, Borneo, Cambodia. The influence of Cholas are still well noticeable in SE Asia.[33]

Many dynasties ruled India around the year 1000. Some of these were the Mughal, Vijayanagara, and the Maratha empires. In the 1600s, European countries invaded India, and the British controlled most of India by 1856.[34]

In the early 1900s, millions of people peacefully started to protest against British control. One of the people who were leading the freedom movement was Mahatma Gandhi, who only used peaceful tactics, including a way called "ahimsa", which means "non-violence".[35] On 15 August 1947, India peacefully became free and independent from the British Empire. India's constitution was founded on 26 January 1950. Every year, on this day, Indians celebrate Republic Day. The first official leader (Prime Minister) of India was Jawaharlal Nehru.

After 1947, India has had a socialist planned economy. It is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. It has fought many wars since independence from Britain, including in 1947-48, 1965, 1971, and 1999 with Pakistan and in 1962 with China. It also fought a war to capture Goa, a Portuguese-built port and city which was not a part of India until 1961. The Portuguese refused to give it to the country, and so India had to use force and the Portuguese were defeated. India has also done nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, and it is one of the few countries that has nuclear bombs.[36] Since 1991, India has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.[37]

Government[change | change source]

India is the largest democracy in the world.[22]

India's government is divided into three parts: the Legislative (the one that makes the laws, the Parliament), the Executive (the government), and the Judiciary (the one that makes sure that the laws are obeyed, the supreme court).

The legislative branch is made up of the Parliament of India, which is in New Delhi, the capital of India. The Parliament of India is divided into two groups: the upper house, Rajya Sabha (Council of States); and the lower house, Lok Sabha (House of People). The Rajya Sabha has 250 members,[38] and the Lok Sabha has 552 members.[38]

The executive branch is made up of the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers. The President of India is elected for five years. The President can choose the Prime Minister, who has most of the power. The Council of Ministers, such as the Minister of Defence, help the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India on May 16, 2014. He is the 19th Prime Minister of India.

The judicial branch is made up of the courts of India, including the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India is the head of the Supreme Court. Supreme Court members have the power to stop a law being passed by Parliament if they think that the law is illegal and contradicts (opposes) the Constitution of India.[39] In India, there are also 24 High Courts.

Geography and climate[change | change source]

India is the seventh largest country in the world. It is the main part of the Indian subcontinent. The countries next to India are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Bhutan, and Nepal. It is also near Sri Lanka, an island country.

India is a peninsula, which means that it is surrounded on three sides by water. One of the seven wonders of the world is in Agra: the Taj Mahal. In the west is the Arabian Sea, in the south is the Indian Ocean, and in the east is the Bay of Bengal. The northern part of India has many mountains. The most famous mountain range in India is the Himalayas, which have some of the tallest mountains in the world. There are many rivers in India. The main rivers are the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari, the Kaveri, the Narmada, and the Krishna.

India has different climates.[40] In the South, the climate is mainly tropical, which means it can get very hot in summer and cool in winter.[40] The northern part, though, has a cooler climate, called sub-tropical, and even alpine in mountainous regions.[40] The Himalayas, in the alpine climate region, can get extremely cold. There is very heavy rainfall along the west coast and in the Eastern Himalayan foothills. The west, though, is drier. Because of some of the deserts of India, all of India gets rain for four months of the year. That time is called the monsoon. That is because the deserts attract water-filled winds from the Indian Ocean, which give rain when they come into India. When the monsoon rains come late or not so heavily, droughts (when the land dries out because there is less rain) are possible.

Defence[change | change source]

Main article: Indian Armed Forces

The Indian Armed Forces is the military of India. It is made up of an Army, Navy and Air Force. There are other parts like Paramilitary and Strategic Nuclear Command.

The President of India is its Commander-in-Chief. However, it is managed by the Ministry of Defence. In 2010, the Indian Armed Forces had 1.32 million active personnel. This makes it one of the largest militaries in the world.[41]

Currently, the Indian Army is becoming more modern by buying and making new weapons. It is also building defences against missiles of other countries.[42] In 2011, India imported more weapons than any other nation in the world.[43]

From its independence in 1947, India fought four wars with Pakistan and one war with China.

Indian states[change | change source]

For administration purposes, India has been divided into smaller pieces. Most of these pieces are called states, some are called union territories. States and union territories are different in the way they are represented. Most union territories are ruled by administrators sent by the central government. All the states, and the territories of Delhi, and Puducherry elect their local government themselves. In total, there are twenty-nine states, and seven union territories.[44]


Union territories:

Union territoryCapital
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPort Blair
Dadra and Nagar HaveliSilvassa
Daman and DiuDaman

Trouble with the borders[change | change source]

There are disputes about certain parts of the Indian borders. Countries do not agree on where the borders are.[45]Pakistan and China do not recognise the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[46] The Indian government claims it as an Indian state.[46] Similarly, the Republic of India does not recognise the Pakistani and Chinese parts of Kashmir.[46]

In 1914, British India and Tibet agreed on the McMahon Line, as part of the Simla Accord.[47] In July 1914, China withdrew from the agreement.[47] Indians and Tibetans see this line as the official border. China does not agree, and both mainland China and Taiwan do not recognize that Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India. According to them, it is a part of South Tibet, which belongs to China.[48][49]

Economy[change | change source]

Main article: Economy of India

The economy of the country is among the world's fastest growing. It is the 7th largest in the world with a nominal GDP of $2,250 billion (USD), and in terms of PPP, the economy is 3rd largest (worth $8,720 trillion USD).[50] The growth rate is 8.25% for fiscal 2010. However, that is still $3678 (considering PPP) per person per year. India's economy is based mainly on:

India's economy is diverse. Major industries include automobiles, cement, chemicals, consumer electronics, food processing, machinery, mining, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, steel, transportation equipment, and textiles.[51]

However, despite economic growth, India continues to suffer from poverty. 27.5% of the population was living in poverty in 2004–2005.[52] In addition, 80.4% of the population live on less than USD $2 a day,[53] which was lowered to 68% by 2009.[54]

People[change | change source]

There are 1.12 billion people living in India.[55] India is the second largest country by the number of people living in it, with China being the first. Experts think that by the year 2030, India will be the first.[56] About 70% of Indians live in rural areas, or land set aside for farming.[57] The largest cities in India are Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad.[44] India has 23 official languages.[58] Altogether, 1,625 languages are spoken in India.[39]

Languages[change | change source]

There are many different languages and cultures in India. The only geographical place with more different languages and cultures is the African continent.[44] There are two main language families in India, the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages. About 69% of Indians speak an Indo-Arayan language, about 26% speak a Dravidian language. Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro-Asiatic group. Around 5% of the people speak a Tibeto-Burman language.

Hindi is the official language in India with the largest number of speakers.[59] It is the official language of the union.[60] Native speakers of Hindi represent about 41% of the Indian population (2001 Indian census). English is also used, mostly for business and in the administration. It has the status of a 'subsidiary official language'.[61] The constitution also recognises 21 other languages. Either many people speak those languages, or they have been recognised to be very important for Indian culture. The number of dialects in India is as high as 1,652.[39]

In the south of India, many people speak Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. In the north, many people speak Chhattisgarhi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, and Marathi, Oriya, and Bihari.[62][63]

India has 23 official languages. Its constitution lists the name of the country in each of the languages.[64]Hindi and English (listed in boldface) are the "official languages of the union" (Union meaning the Federal Government in Delhi);[65]Tamil,Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia are officially the "classical languages of India."

LanguageLong formEnglish PronunciationShort form
Assameseভাৰত গণৰাজ্যBhārôt Gôṇôrājÿôভাৰত Bharot
Bengaliভারত গণরাজ্যBʰārôt Gôṇôrājÿôভারত Bharot
English[51]Republic of IndiaIndia
Gujaratiભારતીય પ્રજાસત્તાકBhartiya Prajasattakભારત.
Hindiभारत गणराज्यBhārata Gaṇarājyaभारत Bhārat
Kannadaಭಾರತ ಗಣರಾಜ್ಯBhārata Gaṇarājyaಭಾರತ Bhārata
Konkaniभारोत गोणराजभारोत
MalayalamഭാരതംBhāratamഭാരതം Bhāratam
Manipuri (also Meitei or Meithei)ভারত গণরাজ্যভারত
Marathiभारतीय प्रजासत्ताकBhartiya Prajasattakभारत Bhārat
Nepaliभारत गणराज्यBʰārat Gaṇarādzyaभारत Bʰārat
Punjabiਭਾਰਤ ਗਣਤੰਤਰBhārat Gantantarਭਾਰਤ Bhārat
Sanskritभारत गणराज्यम्Bhārata Gaṇarājyamभारत Bhārata
Sindhiڀارت، هندستانڀارت،ڀارت،
Tamilஇந்தியக் குடியரசுIndiyak-Kudiyarasuஇந்தியா India/Bharadham
Teluguభారత గణరాజ్యముBʰārata Gaṇa Rājyamuభారత్ Bhārath
Urduجمہوریہ بھارتJumhūrīyat-e Bhāratبھارت Bhārat

Culture[change | change source]

Cave paintings from the Stone Age are found across India. They show dances and rituals and suggest there was a prehistoric religion. During the Epic and Puranic periods, the earliest versions of the epic poems Ramayana and Mahabharata were written from about 500–100 BCE,[67] although these were orallytransmitted for centuries before this period.[68] Other South Asian Stone Age sites apart from Pakistan are in modern India, such as the Bhimbetka rock shelters in central Madhya Pradesh and the Kupgal petroglyphs of eastern Karnataka, contain rock art showing religious rites and evidence of possible ritualised music.[69]

Several modern religions are linked to India,[70] namely modern Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. All of these religions have different schools (ways of thinking) and traditions that are related. As a group they are called the Eastern religions. The Indian religions are similar to one another in many ways: The basic beliefs, the way worship is done and several religious practices are very similar. These similarities mainly come from the fact that these religions have a common history and common origins. They also influenced each other.

The religion of Hinduism is the main faith followed by 79.80% of people in the Republic of India; Islam – 14.23%; Christianity – 2.30%; Sikhism – 1.72%; Buddhism – 0.70% and Jainism – 0.37%.[71]

It's the first time ever since independence that Hindu population percentage fell below 80%.

Technology[change | change source]

India sent a spacecraft to Mars for the first time in 2014. That made it the fourth country and only Asian country to do so. India is the only country to be successful in its very first attempt to orbit Mars. It was called the Mars Orbiter Mission.

ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single mission to create world record. India became the first nation in the world to have launched over a hundred satellites in one mission. That was more than the 2014 Russian record of 37 satellites in a single launch.

Pop culture[change | change source]

India has the largest movie industry in the world.[source?][72] Based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the industry is also known as Bollywood . It makes 1,000 movies a year, about twice as many as Hollywood.[73]

Sports[change | change source]

Main article: Sports in India

There is no national game in India.[74] Indians have excelled in Hockey. They have also won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Olympic games. However, cricket is the most popular sport in India. The Indian cricket team won the 1983 and 2011 Cricket World Cup and the 2007 ICC World Twenty20. They shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka and won the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.Cricket in India is controlled by the Board of Control for Cricket in India or BCCI. Domestic tournaments are the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the Challenger Series. There is also the Indian cricket league and Indian premier league Twenty20 competitions.

Tennis has become popular due to the victories of the India Davis Cup team. Association football is also a popular sport in northeast India, West Bengal, Goa and Kerala.[75] The Indian national football team has won the South Asian Football Federation Cup many times. Chess, which comes from India, is also becoming popular. This is with the increase in the number of Indian Grandmasters.[76] Traditional sports include kabaddi, kho kho, and gilli-danda, which are played throughout India.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. ↑"[...] Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations in the words as the Government may authorise as occasion arises; and the song Vande Mataram
The Taj Mahal in Agra was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is thought to be of "outstanding universal value".[30]
The Harmandir Sahib or The Golden Temple of the Sikhs.
A 2008 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match being played between the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders

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