You must remember the long history chapters of India’s independence, which reminded us of our leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Bhagat Singh, who waged a long fight for liberation against the British.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous words in his maiden speech as the leader of the country: “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” proved right as India broke free from centuries of oppression by fighting the long and hard battle against the British domination on the historical day of 15 August 1947, which we celebrate today as Independence Day.
August 15, this year, marks the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from the centuries-long British rule. So, let us know more about the significance of this day in India’s history.
The two-centuries-long brutal and oppressive British rule in India began in 1757 when India's colourful fabrics and aromatic spices lured the British traders to the Indian subcontinent. The British East India Company gradually gained control over the country’s economy in a monopoly following the British victory at the Battle of Plassey.
This 100-year-long rule by The East India Company was then replaced by the British Crown (often called the British raj) in the wake of the Indian Mutiny of 1857–58.
The Indian independence movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, gained momentum during World War I. Many key revolutionaries and leaders also emerged from India’s freedom struggle, with each one playing their part in India’s independence. Finally, India gained independence on 15th August 1947, Friday, at midnight.
Indian Independence Day is the most beloved and revered holiday in the country. On this particular day, 75 years ago, the people of India liberated themselves from the shackles of colonialism and oppressive British rule without any massive army or a national treasury. It was an incredible task given the time and the length of British rule in India.
The importance of Independence Day also increases when one thinks of all the years of struggle and deprivation our leaders and revolutionaries endured for their beloved nation. After World War II, the determination of Indian freedom fighters, on August 15, 1947, forced the British Parliament to transfer legislative sovereignty to the Constituent Assembly of India with the Indian Independence Act, thus, paving the way for the liberation of one of the world's great nations.
On 15th August 1947 midnight, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, hoisted the Indian flag above the Lahori Gate in Delhi, a sight to behold for all the Indians then. This led to the yearly custom of the Prime Minister raising the country's flag on each subsequent Indian Independence Day and addressing the nation.
The traditional Independence Day celebrations start with a 21-gun salute with the President of India addressing the nation with a heartwarming speech. The Prime Minister then hoists the National flag from Red Fort, Delhi, along with a parade of the military forces and police personnel.
Being the most important day of India’s long and struggle-filled history, Independence Day is marked throughout the country with flag-raising ceremonies, drills, and chanting of the Indian national anthem, along with patriotic songs. It is not just a random holiday for Indians; they gather and dress up in national or regional attire to honour their country. Another traditional celebration includes kite flying on 15th August, as the revered activity is considered a symbol of India’s freedom.
However, to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence of India on 15th August 2022 with great excitement, and to pay tribute to freedom fighters, the Government of India has launched an initiative named 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
Officially commenced on March 12, 2021, the initiative is marked by the following five primary themes:
Freedom Struggle: To bring alive stories of unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives for India’s freedom.
Ideas@75: To focus on the ideas and ideals that helped shape the country before, which will guide us through the period of ‘Amrit Kaal’ (25 years between the 75th Independence Day and the 100th Independence Day).
Reslove@75: To focus our collective resolve to shape the destiny of our nation till 2047.
Actions@75: To focus on the individual and collective efforts being undertaken to help India regain its power in a post- covid world.
Achievements@75: To remind people of our collective achievements as a 75-year-old independent country with a legacy of 5000+ years of history.
Did you know that the actual date of India's independence was July 18, 1947? Britain's Lord Mountbatten changed the date to 15th August later to coincide with the second anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces.
India shares its Independence day with five other countries- The Republic of Congo, South Korea, North Korea, Bahrain, and Liechtenstein.
The Indian flag was raised for the first time in 1906.
The Indian National Anthem was adopted in 1950.
The New York India Parade and Festival is held on the first Sunday following August 15 every year to pay tribute to India Independence Day. Additionally, two other American communities with large Indian populations also host the Boston India Day Festival and the Chicago India Independence Day Parade on the first Saturday following India Independence Day.
India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, became a style icon in 1960 with his photo in Vogue magazine in his famous single-breasted jacket. His political fashion statement was then popularised by the London Mod scene, The Beatles, and the American pop band The Monkees.
This year, the Indian Independence Day on August 15 will remind us of being free for 75 years from the long, hard and expansive British rule marked by “the sun never sets.”
In this 75th year of Indian independence, we should pay gratitude to the groups of liberation fighters and brilliant strategists who soundly defeated the British to provide us with the secular, liberated, and democratic country that India is today and must uphold their values to make it a better country.