Independence day is celebrated annually in India on 15th August. It is celebrated to honor nation’s independence from British Raj on 15th August 1947. The United Kingdom passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 which transferred legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly. Under this act Parliament of the United Kingdom partitioned British India into two separate dominions of India and Pakistan. Under “Mountbatten Plan” or “3 June Plan” Indian national congress, Muslim league and the Sikh community came to an agreement with Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten and government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee formed the legislation. Under this plan, 570 princely states were allowed to stay independent and they had the choice to accede to any of two dominions. On 18 July 1947, this act received the royal assent. Later, on August 14th Pakistan came into being and on 15th India came into being. So Pakistan celebrates its independence day every year on 14th August and India does it on 15th August each year.
India was still a British dominion and retained King George VI as head of state until 26th January 1950. On this day India’s constitution came into effect and India became a republic nation, that is why Indians celebrate Republic day each year on 26th January. Like 15th August, 26th January is also a national holiday.
India attained their independence largely through its Independence movement. The rebellion of 1857 was the first large-scale rebellion in northern and central Indian province against British East India Company Rule. 29-year-old sepoy Mangal Pandey believed to be inspiring Indian sepoys against the company. In the first week of May 1857 he killed a higher ranking British officer at Barrackpore regiment, he was captured and sentenced to death. His death inspired sepoys from other regiments to do same. On 10th May 1857 sepoys from Meerut rebelled and killed some of their commanding officers. They reached to Red Fort, Delhi to ask Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II to become their leader and reclaim his throne. Bahadur Shah II was at first reluctant but eventually agreed for it.
A revolt broke out in Oundh and North-Western Provinces too. Rani Lakshmibai was killed in Gwalior on 17 June 1858. With the Military superiority of British, they ended on rebellion and took back Delhi on 20th September 1857. Later on a couple of weeks, all small, big rebellions were crushed. Only Tatya Tope kept fighting with his guerrilla warfare till 1859.
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a turning point in India modern history, under the Government of India Act 1858 India came under direct rule of British Government. At end of all of this Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Rangoon, Burma, where he died in 1862.
Indian national congress was formed in 1885, primarily consisted of the western educated elite who worked in teaching, law and journalism field. At this stage Indian National Congress didn’t have a specific ideology or agenda, it was more like a debating society of elites who used to meet once in a year. But this formed the basis for future political awareness.
By 1907, there we two major factions in Indian national congress, Radicals and Moderates. Radicals were led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak advocated direct revolution to overthrow British empire. Whereas, moderates led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Dadabhai Naoroji believed in reforms under British rule. Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak were collectively known as Lal Bal Pal changed the political discourse of India. Tilak demanded Swaraj (self-rule), his popular statement “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it” inspired a lot of Indians. After Tilak’s arrest hopes of the offensive attack were subdued.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was in South Africa protesting for basic discrimination, abusive labor treatment, and suppressive police control. He perfected the concept of “Satyagraha”, which was inspired by Baba Ram Singh and used in Kuka movement in Punjab in 1872. In January 1914 he managed to successfully repeal the legislation against Indians and got Indian prisoners released.
On January 9, 1915, he returned to India. (In India 9th January is celebrated as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas – Non-Resident Indian Day to honor the contribution of the overseas Indian community). He joined the Indian national congress and his movement start taking shape. He started a no-cooperation movement in 1920. in 1922, Gandhi called off movement after Chauri Chaura incident, in which protestors killed 22 policemen. In 1922, Gandhi was sentenced to six years but released after 2 years.
In the same era, a new generation of Indian joined Indian National Congress like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Vallabhbhai Patel who later became prominent figures in Indian independence movement. At Lahore session in 1929, Indian national congress adopted the idea of self-rule and end of British rule.
During world war I, most of the Indian National Congress leaders supported the British war efforts. Millions of Indian soldiers died in first world war fighting for England. During this time Ghadar Party tried hard to revolt in India, they tried to take help of Germans and Japanese. But their efforts were crushed. Later, freedom fighters like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and others played their important role in Independence Movement. (It is not possible to cover all these legends in a single article, we have written few essays, find links to check it out)
8 August 1942, Congress launched Quit India movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan), Gandhi called for mass civil disobedience inside and outside the party. In this movement, Gandhi and his followers practiced non-violence against British. In Second World War 2.5 million Indian soldiers fought for British, in return, Indian independence was promised after the war. At end of the war, the British empire was weakened, and they were not able to resist overwhelming complete independence demand.
During the same time, Jinnah demanded a separate country for Muslims on religious background. Byt this time he was successful in negotiating with Indian national congress and Lord Mountbatten, the viceroy of British India. Sir Cyril Radcliffe proposed “Radcliffe Line” which was a notional division of the country. Borders were submitted on 9th August 1947, just 5 days before independence.
At midnight of 14th August 1947, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave his famous speech,
“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.”
Night of celebration quickly turned into havoc by dawn, millions of people killed, women and girls raped from both sides during operation transition. India paid a huge price for independence.
Independence day of India Celebration, How do people celebrate it?
Independence day is celebrated to pay homage for those who fought for India’s independence. On 14th August 1947 midnight India’s first prime minister gave a speech since it is customary to Prime minister to address the nation from Red Fort on the independence day. 15th August is a national holiday which is observed across all Indian states and union territories.
On the eve of Independence Day President of India addresses the nation then prime minister of India hoists the India flag at Red Fort in Delhi. 21 gunshots are fired in honor of the occasion. “Jaa Gana Mana”, the Indian national anthem sung at the start. In last few years present prime minister of India Narendra Modi gave great independence speeches. He wishes people of India, talk about new schemes and plans, his speeches are inspiring and heard across India.
It is followed by the march past from Indian Armed forces and various weapons get displayed to showcase nations strength. Later different states showcase their culture in march past.
Government Offices, Schools, and Colleges Celebrations
They decorate their premises previous day with rangolis, Indian flags, and other stuff. People or students, teachers gather around 7 AM, chief guest for the day or principal hoist flag, the national anthem is sung. Different schools and colleges have a different event on the day, like speech, essay or painting competitions. Schools also have parades of NCC students etc. A few years earlier school children used to march across town, carrying banners with different messages on it, accompanied by school band; but nowadays is also rare.
Common Man’s Independence Day Celebration
It is a national holiday so people mostly stay at home. Some hoist Indian flag at home or on the terrace of the building, but it is rare. Different local groups play patriotic songs from early morning, that fills the environment with the sense of patriotism. Cable channels show patriotic themed movies whole day, different TV programs will also have shows around independence theme. News channels will broadcast Prime minister speech almost whole day, then they will also have panel discussions on related topics. People also decorate their offices, wear clothes with the tricolor theme. NGO, Social groups arrange different activities like tree plantations etc. Some YouTubers will carry out social experiments on a similar theme.
Issues with Independence Day Celebration
Some politicians try to take advantage of overall euphoria of the day. There is also a threat of terrorist attacks on such days, so you will also see police, security personnel guarding important or crowded places.
But one the most disturbing thing people do on independence day is they throw away those small Indian flags over street once the event is over. People step over it, it goes in the gutter and all. That is highly disrespectful.
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