Mahadeep Singh Jamwal India and its citizens are all geared up with a feeling of patriotic exhilaration to celebrate 73rd Independence Day. Independence Day is celebrated with great pomp and show throughout the country every year on August 15. This big day is a reminder for every citizen of India of the beginning of a new era of liberation from the British colonialism that lasted for about 200 years. By virtue of ‘The Indian Independence Act passed by the UK Parliament receiving royal consent on 18 July 1947, we got wings of Independence to take a flight of its choice on 15 August 1947. History takes us to the era of European traders, when in 17th century they established their out posts on the Indian subcontinent. By the 18th century, British East India Company subdued local kingdoms and established them as the dominant force. The British Crown assumed direct control of India by virtue of Government of India Act 1858. Owing to the repressive policy of Britishers, the discontent of this period crystallized into nationwide non-violent movements of non-cooperation and civil disobedience, ultimately the escalating political tension was capped by Independence in 1947. On the midnight of August 14-15, 1947, free India’s National Flag was hoisted atop ‘Council House’, later renamed ‘Parliament Bhavan’. The jubilation of Independence was tempered by the bloody partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. India attained freedom following an independence movement noted for largely nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, preceded by the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics tagged with one of the most violent and tragic events in the sub-continent in the recent history that saw massive migration across the borders. The day, takes off with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events to celebrate our freedom and reignite patriotism and love towards our country, across the States and borders, where Indians reside. Independence Day hold special significance for the citizens of India. It reminds us of the bloodshed and sacrifices made by the freedom fighters to win independence, gained not in a day, nor did it come easy. It was an outcome of persistent struggle by the masses of India under the guidance of their political leadership and revolutionary freedom fighters. The day was inaugurated by sovereign India’s first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, who unfolded the tricolor flag of the nation on the ‘Lahori Gate’ of the glorious ‘Red Fort’ with a speech called as “Tryst and Destiny”. And since then, it has become a custom for the Indian PM to hoist the Indian flag on this historical day and address the nation. In legendry speech Nehru proclaimed “At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awaken to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes rarely in history, when we step out from old to new, when an age ends and when soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance”. We can imagine what sort of the Independent India would have been dreamed of from the words of Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high: where knowledge is free: where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls: where the words come out from the depth of truth: — where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action: into that heaven of freedom”. Here we have to introspect, are we really independent? For to be free, is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others but still after 73 years of independence, we are and the country well stand shackled by the power lust politicians and free will of the electorates is shackled after the elections and those voices that criticize the working of elected representatives are suppressed. “India is the cradle of human race, the birth place of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legends, and great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of mankind are treasured up in India only” – Mark Twain, American author. Some historical chips tagged to the day are: 1.The 15 August, day for independence of India was chosen by Lord Mountbatten (The last British governor general of British India) to commemorate second anniversary of Japan’s surrender and victory of the allied forces on 15 August 1945 (which he commanded) in World War second. 2. India had no national anthem when it became an independent country on 15th August, 1947. It was adopted as India’s national anthem later in the 1950s. 3. Independent India lacked in having a structured government. There was no president or prime minister heading the country. The political framework developed much later in India when it became a republic. 4. India shares its Independence Day with five more countries on August 15, but with different years. The countries are Bahrain, North Korea, South Korea, Congo, and Liechtenstein. 5. Mahatma Gandhi was absent from the celebrations of the country’s first Independence Day. He was there to be a part of a hunger strike that was conducted to impede the communal killings that were triggered due to partition. 6. Cyril John Radcliffe was given the task of drawing the borders of the Independent India. Despite the fact that he had never come to India, he was given this task of division of the country. 7 The population of undivided India in 1947 was approx 390 million. After partition, there were 330 million people in India, 30 million in West Pakistan, and 30 million people in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). 8. When the British rule ended in India in the year 1947, the literacy rate was just 12%. 9. At the time of Independence 1 USD was having same vale as 1 INR but in 1948 the value of 1 USD increased to 3.31 INR and that is 70.85 at present in 2019. 10. The price of 10 grams of gold was Rs 88.62 at the time of independence that is Rs. 36,250 (11 August 2019) at present. Concluding the day is celebrated to keep the spirit of patriotism alive and at the same time enjoy the spirit of freedom. If a man takes away someone’s freedom, he no longer has his freedom as well. We need to unite and fight against people who think they have the right to own other people’s lives. Let’s celebrate and enjoy the day giving us a possibility to live independently, helpfully, cheerfully, hopefully by reflecting on our past and remembering our national heroes who gave us total freedom after years of pain and humiliation. . Independence Day is a national holiday in our country and is thus also a time to bond with the near and dear ones and celebrate the day together.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper