Indian Independence Day is a hugely significant national holiday which marks the seminal moment the nation became independent from the United Kingdom. This was officially declared on 15 August 1947, making this India’s 73rd Independence Day.
On the 15th August not only did India become independent on this day, but the country was divided into India and Pakistan.
Partition saw the displacement of millions and violent protests, the effects of which remain for both nations until this day.
How did India become Independent?
Although unrest at colonial rule existed long before, the Indian independence movement gained momentum after the First World War. Gandhi led the revolt against oppressive British rule and organised passive resistance campaigns. Although minor concessions were made by the British government, they were not enough. Discontent continued to grow India, with nationalist leaders from across the country rejecting Britain’s empty promises.
In 1942, during the Second World War. The Quit India Movement demanding an end to British rule was launched by the Indian Congress. This led to colonial authorities arresting and jailing hundreds of nationalists, including Gandhi.
Despite hundreds of nationalists getting sentenced, demonstrations from the parties continued and grew after the war. Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was Viceroy in the country, had been given until 1948 to divide the nation, but this date was hastily moved forward. His Plan involved division along religious lines-although it is up for debate how successful this was.
In 1947 the Indian National Congress reluctantly accepted the creation of Pakistan and, on August 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill took effect.
The Partition of India
After signing the Independence Bill, it was agreed colonial India would be divided into two separate states- on Pakistan and the other India.
The two countries celebrate on different days because Lord Mountbatten had to attend the Pakistan Celebration on 14thAugust and then travel to Delhi for India’s first independent day on 15thAugust.
The partition saw over 14 million people displace and led to the death of up to two million, creating one of the biggest refugee crises in history. Riots and fighting were rife, particularly in the western region of Punjab as it was cut in to by the boarder.
The day is celebrated by pageants parades and flag hoisting ceremonies can be expected across the country. Many official buildings will be adorned with lights and particularly in Delhi- kite flying is common. Residents will wear the nation’s colours- green, orange and white- and even decorate their houses.
The Prime Minister gives an address to the nation and raises the Indian Flag, following a military march that takes place in Red Fort Delhi.