Indian Independence Day: History, significance and little-known facts
Indian Independence Day 2019: Speaking about freedom, Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?”Updated: Aug 15, 2019 08:19 IST
Independence Day (August 15) is a reminder of all the sacrifices our freedom fighters made for our country’s future. Looking back on the last 72 years of Independence, India has made progress in every field, be it education or its military and space programmes. Speaking about freedom, Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?”
Independence Day reminds us of all the sacrifices our freedom fighters made for the country’s future. In the last 72 years of Independence, India has made progress in every field, be it education or its military and space programmes.
On August 15, 1947, the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, raised the Indian national flag at the Red Fort in New Delhi. Flag hoisting ceremonies take place and cultural programmes are held in governmental and non-governmental institutions all over the country on this day.
For India, August 15 is a day of her re-birth, a new beginning. At midnight on August 15 1947, the British rulers handed the country back to its Indian leaders, ending a remarkable struggle that lasted years. It was on this historic date on which sovereign India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the tricolour flag of the nation on the glorious Red Fort.
Kite flying is celebrated as an event associated with Independence Day. People symbolise their patriotism towards the country with the use of national flags of different sizes. They decorate their homes, cars etc. with the colours of the flag. Indians living in various parts of the world also celebrate Independence Day with parades and pageants. Several cities in the United States have declared August 15 as India Day.
After the British victory in the Battle of Plassey of 1757, the rule of East India Company started in India. By 1858, the British Crown had assumed control over India. The situation after World War I was marked with suppressive and exploitative laws by the British. This led to revolutionary calls for independence, and sparked the phase of non-violent and non-cooperation movements followed by the civil disobedience movement.
The enduring leader and a national symbol for all these movements was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - the Father of the Nation. The next decades were marked with constant struggles between the Indians and the British for freedom. Many movements and acts were carried out by the Indian National Congress, freedom fighters and the people of India.
In 1946, the Labour government, the exchequer of Britain thought of ending their rule over India because of their exhaustion of capital post the World War II. The British government announced, during the early 1947, that they intend to transfer power to the Indians by the month of June 1948. This approaching independence could not decrease the Hindu-Muslim violence in Bengal and Punjab. This led to Lord Mountbatten, the then Viceroy of India to propose the power handover date, owing to the fact that the unprepared British army could not cope with the increased violence in the country. In the month of June in 1947, notable Indian leaders namely Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abul Kalam Azad, Master Tara Singh and B.R. Ambedkar agreed for a partition of India along religious outline.
Millions of people belonging to different religious groups tramped across the newly drawn border to find places to reside. This cost around 250,000 to 500,000 lives. On August 15 1947 midnight, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed India’s independence by reading out his famous speech known as Tryst with Destiny. Pandit Nehru said “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes, but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.”
Little-known facts about our country
* India was named after the River Indus, home to the first-known civilization, the Indus Valley Civilization.
* India is known as Bharat Ganarajya in Sanskrit. This the reason that Indian is popularly called Bharat in Hindi.
* India had no national anthem at the time of its independence on August 15, 1947. The Bengali version of Jana Gana Mana was written by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1911, first sung during the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress and later adopted as India’s national anthem later in the 1950s.
* Although India became independent on July 18, 1947, Lord Mountbatten declared August 15 as the official date because it is the second anniversary of the surrendering of Japan to the Allied Forces during World War II.
* Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has also featured on the famous Vogue magazine because of his unique dressing sense. His jacket became a popular fashion trend in the West and came to be known as the ‘Nehru jacket’.
First Published: Aug 14, 2019 13:43 IST