I read Civics in school purely from the point of getting through the examinations and therefore the one sentence that I do recall from that subject is, "India is divided into 25 States and 7 Union Territories" which is, ofcourse, a really outdated statement, as a not-so-current person like me can identify atleast three more states namely Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand that would skew the count. And I do not really know if the Union Territories have swelled in number.
Given this background, a vague school-days idea of the Republic Day being the day that the parade was shown on TV, I finally dinned into my head this morning that a republic is a state which is governed in the absence of a monarchy by a collective of people, often elected by a democratic system, to rule and pass legislation. A Republic has a collective set of rules for governance, called a constitution, and is usually some form of democracy, though that need not really be the case.
The word Republic has its origins in Res publica, a Latin phrase, made of res + publica, literally meaning the "thing of the people". Thanks to Wiki, as always, for lighting the torch.
It is indeed amazing that India, with all the excess baggage, has managed to keep her head high and walk past the 50 years mark with strength and stability. There is magic in this nation literally and otherwise.