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That blissful dawn, those ringing headlines

"Birth of India's Freedom", "Free India is Born", "India Independent"... These were the ringing headlines in top Indian newspapers capturing that history-making moment on the morning of August 15, 1947.

delhi Updated: Aug 13, 2007 11:09 IST

"Birth of India's Freedom", "Freedom Era Begins", "India Awakes to Life and Freedom", "Free India is Born", "India Independent"... These were the ringing headlines in top Indian newspapers capturing that history-making moment on the morning of August 15, 1947.

As midnight revelry and frenzied rejoicing gripped the country, editors and reporters toiled well into the wee hours to record a newly born nation's "tryst with destiny".

Recording that time up-close for posterity could not have been more exhilarating for those who pen the first drafts of history, as journalists do.

"The entire Delhi kept awake to witness the historic event of ushering in the freedom of India at the hour of midnight," wrote a Times of India correspondent in its lead story headlined "Birth of India's Freedom".

"Unprecedented scenes of enthusiasm were witnessed both inside and outside the constituent assembly chamber where seething swaying humanity wildly cheered the momentous event heralded with the blowing of conches," said the Times.

"Unprecedented scenes of enthusiasm were witnessed both inside and outside the constituent assembly chamber where seething swaying humanity wildly cheered the momentous event heralded with the blowing of conches," said the Times.

Another report entitled "Frenzied Enthusiasm in Bombay" on the front page of The Times waxed lyrical about the spontaneous celebrations that enveloped that vibrant metropolis, bathed in a million lights and a million flags.

"Bombay in the early hours of Friday morning was a pedestrians' paradise. Cars either drove on the pavements, if they got the right of way or were marooned there. Rejoicing crowds held the streets and all the traffic rules were ignored. Trams and buses were packed to doors, but carried passengers on their roofs. Everyone cheered as the spirit of the occasion spread infectiously. And few slept as bands blared and trumpets sounded in wild cacophony."

More poetic flourishes followed. "A million lights over Bombay's public buildings made the Gateway of India a city of light and beauty."

The Hindustan Times, riding on the high tide of patriotism, announced to the world "India Independent" and "New Star Rises in the East" on its front page. Its special supplement was soaked in tricolour and sported a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi with folded hands.

In his lead article, "Journey's End, Beginning of Another," veteran editor Durga Das captured the sense of what it was to be alive in that dawn and singing the freedom song: "Freedom has dawned.

The Hindustan Times, riding on the high tide of patriotism, announced to the world "India Independent" and "New Star Rises in the East" on its front page.

"It has broken in upon us earlier than most Indians expected, much earlier than any Briton imagined. It is the greatest event in India's long and chequered history since it marks the end of the 1,000-year-old subjection to the rule of a succession of foreign conquerors," Das wrote.

The Pioneer, in its lead story headlined "Freedom Era Begins", chose to highlight the historical significance of India's independence as marking the end of the mightiest empire the world has known.

"Imperial Delhi, the graveyard of many an empire, India's city of destiny, coveted as capital seat by successive empire builders but retained by none for more than 200 years, 10 years before the allotted time, saw the end of one more empire, the mightiest the world has ever seen," said the paper.

"One hundred and ninety years ago, Clive won the Battle of Plassey and laid the foundation of the British empire in India. Today that empire goes the way of all other empires, in the limbo of history."

The Statesman had a rather dry matter of fact headline: "Inauguration of Two Dominions." The sense of national rejoicing that pervaded the newly free Indian people was clearly missing from this newspaper managed by British editors.

The August 15 edition of The Statesman gave equal prominence to what Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, said on that historic day with its editorial praising "Britain's sincerity and Lord Mountbatten's speed and skills".

"Britain's sincerity, Lord Mountbatten's speed and skills and the ideals, statesmanship and eventual capacity for compromise of this country's leaders have made August 15 the greatest day in modern Indian history," said the editorial, rather blandly entitled "Independence Day".

The Statesman had a rather dry matter of fact headline: "Inauguration of Two Dominions." The sense of national rejoicing that pervaded the newly free Indian people was clearly missing from this newspaper managed by British editors.

As one pores over Indian newspapers published on that historic day, one is awed by the idealism and high patriotism that permeated not only those who were chosen by history to lead the country's first government but also those who reported the momentous event.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's historic "Tryst With Destiny" speech delivered in the constituent assembly chamber and his emphasis on "incessant striving" found reflection and echoes in nearly all the newspapers with high-minded editorials toasting the spirit of independent India and special supplements carrying articles penned by stalwarts like Sri Aurobindo and Vallabhbhai Patel.

There are also surprises in store for the diligent researcher.

It was a revelation to find that The Hindu, published from Chennai, was the only Indian newspaper that did not carry the news of India's independence on its front page. It chose to stick to its traditional practice of carrying advertisements on the front page.

The history-shifting event finally figured on page six! Besides Nehru's speech, The Hindu prominently highlighted President Rajendra Prasad's speech in which he assured the minorities that they would "receive a fair and just treatment".

The message was clearly aimed at those Muslims who chose to stay in India after the creation of Pakistan. "They will enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizenship and will be expected in their turn to render loyalty to the country in which they live and to its inhabitants," said Rajendra Prasad.

The Tribune, published from Lahore, gave equal prominence to the birth of two nations on its front page. On the top left side, the headline said, "India Wakes to Life and History" and on the right side was the story of "Birth of Pakistan: An Event in history.'

But amid all that euphoria and sense of ringing in the new was the solitary anguished figure of Mahatma Gandhi, fasting and praying for sanity to return to the country after the bloody mayhem of partition.

The Tribune, published from Lahore, gave equal prominence to the birth of two nations on its front page. On the top left side, the headline said, "India Wakes to Life and History" and on the right side was the story of "Birth of Pakistan: An Event in history.'

Nearly all papers carried the news of Mahatma's conscientious gesture in a small inset box on their front pages that sought to remind the country that the incessant striving to make the nation great, which Nehru spoke so eloquently about, had just begun."Birth of India's Freedom", "Freedom Era Begins", "India Awakes to Life and Freedom", "Free India is Born", "India Independent"... These were the ringing headlines in top Indian newspapers capturing that history-making moment on the morning of Aug 15, 1947.

As midnight revelry and frenzied rejoicing gripped the country, editors and reporters toiled well into the wee hours to record a newly born nation's "tryst with destiny".

Recording that time up-close for posterity could not have been more exhilarating for those who pen the first drafts of history, as journalists do.

"The entire Delhi kept awake to witness the historic event of ushering in the freedom of India at the hour of midnight," wrote a Times of India correspondent in its lead story headlined "Birth of India's Freedom".

"Unprecedented scenes of enthusiasm were witnessed both inside and outside the constituent assembly chamber where seething swaying humanity wildly cheered the momentous event heralded with the blowing of conches," said the Times.

Another report entitled "Frenzied Enthusiasm in Bombay" on the front page of The Times waxed lyrical about the spontaneous celebrations that enveloped that vibrant metropolis, bathed in a million lights and a million flags.

Another report entitled "Frenzied Enthusiasm in Bombay" on the front page of The Times waxed lyrical about the spontaneous celebrations that enveloped that vibrant metropolis, bathed in a million lights and a million flags.

"Bombay in the early hours of Friday morning was a pedestrians' paradise. Cars either drove on the pavements, if they got the right of way or were marooned there. Rejoicing crowds held the streets and all the traffic rules were ignored. Trams and buses were packed to doors, but carried passengers on their roofs. Everyone cheered as the spirit of the occasion spread infectiously. And few slept as bands blared and trumpets sounded in wild cacophony."

More poetic flourishes followed. "A million lights over Bombay's public buildings made the Gateway of India a city of light and beauty."

The Hindustan Times, riding on the high tide of patriotism, announced to the world "India Independent" and "New Star Rises in the East" on its front page. Its special supplement was soaked in tricolour and sported a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi with folded hands.

In his lead article, "Journey's End, Beginning of Another," veteran editor Durga Das captured the sense of what it was to be alive in that dawn and singing the freedom song: "Freedom has dawned.

"It has broken in upon us earlier than most Indians expected, much earlier than any Briton imagined. It is the greatest event in India's long and chequered history since it marks the end of the 1,000-year-old subjection to the rule of a succession of foreign conquerors," Das wrote.

The Pioneer, in its lead story headlined "Freedom Era Begins", chose to highlight the historical significance of India's independence as marking the end of the mightiest empire the world has known.

"Imperial Delhi, the graveyard of many an empire, India's city of destiny, coveted as capital seat by successive empire builders but retained by none for more than 200 years, 10 years before the allotted time, saw the end of one more empire, the mightiest the world has ever seen," said the paper.

"One hundred and ninety years ago, Clive won the Battle of Plassey and laid the foundation of the British empire in India. Today that empire goes the way of all other empires, in the limbo of history."

The Statesman had a rather dry matter of fact headline: "Inauguration of Two Dominions." The sense of national rejoicing that pervaded the newly free Indian people was clearly missing from this newspaper managed by British editors.

The Aug 15 edition of The Statesman gave equal prominence to what Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, said on that historic day with its editorial praising "Britain's sincerity and Lord Mountbatten's speed and skills".

"Britain's sincerity, Lord Mountbatten's speed and skills and the ideals, statesmanship and eventual capacity for compromise of this country's leaders have made August 15 the greatest day in modern Indian history," said the editorial, rather blandly entitled "Independence Day".

As one pores over Indian newspapers published on that historic day, one is awed by the idealism and high patriotism that permeated not only those who were chosen by history to lead the country's first government but also those who reported the momentous event.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's historic "Tryst With Destiny" speech delivered in the constituent assembly chamber and his emphasis on "incessant striving" found reflection and echoes in nearly all the newspapers with high-minded editorials toasting the spirit of independent India and special supplements carrying articles penned by stalwarts like Sri Aurobindo and Vallabhbhai Patel.

There are also surprises in store for the diligent researcher.

It was a revelation to find that The Hindu, published from Chennai, was the only Indian newspaper that did not carry the news of India's independence on its front page. It chose to stick to its traditional practice of carrying advertisements on the front page.

The history-shifting event finally figured on page six! Besides Nehru's speech, The Hindu prominently highlighted President Rajendra Prasad's speech in which he assured the minorities that they would "receive a fair and just treatment".

The message was clearly aimed at those Muslims who chose to stay in India after the creation of Pakistan. "They will enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizenship and will be expected in their turn to render loyalty to the country in which they live and to its inhabitants," said Rajendra Prasad.

The Tribune, published from Lahore, gave equal prominence to the birth of two nations on its front page. On the top left side, the headline said, "India Wakes to Life and History" and on the right side was the story of "Birth of Pakistan: An Event in history.'

But amid all that euphoria and sense of ringing in the new was the solitary anguished figure of Mahatma Gandhi, fasting and praying for sanity to return to the country after the bloody mayhem of partition.

Nearly all papers carried the news of Mahatma's conscientious gesture in a small inset box on their front pages that sought to remind the country that the incessant striving to make the nation great, which Nehru spoke so eloquently about, had just begun.

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