As the crescent moon rose in the deepening night at the stroke of midnight on August 15 1947, India ushered in a new dawn; the rise of an independent nation. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister’s famous speech titled, ‘Tryst with Destiny’ still echoes with the same bang now as it did back then.
“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”, Nehru intoned.
The speech gave to the birth to a new India with the people being awakened to nation building. The Constituent Assembly completed the work of drafting the independence constitution on November 26 1949. On January 26 1950, the Republic of India was officially proclaimed. Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first president of India by the Constituent Assembly, taking over from Governor General Rajgopalachari.
This August, there is an endless stream of festivities as has been the case for the past 63 years. The day is marked with pomp and color across the length and breadth of the second most populous country in the world and in its Diaspora. All sing in unison to the ‘Jhanda uncha Rahe Hamara’ the independence song.
Flag hoisting ceremonies are the predominant affair of the day and Indian diplomatic missions in the eastern Africa region will not be left behind this August. Shops and offices will remain closed. The ‘India Gate’ is the axis of attraction and a nice place to hang out in the evening of Independence Day, as it is attractively illuminated. In New Delhi, the Prime minister hoists the national flag at the ‘Red Fort’ and delivers a nationally televised speech. He also pays tribute to key players in the freedom struggle. Colorful kites dot the night sky in a symbolic expression of freedom.
Under the Independence Act, 1947, Viscount Lord Mountbatten of Buma the last British General of India announced the partitioning of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan on June 3 1947. British India consisted of 17 provinces and 562 princely states. The provinces were given to India and Pakistan after being partitioned. The princes of the princely states, however, won the right to either remain independent or join either nation.
Independent India’s first years faced turbulent episodes that included a massive exchange of population with Pakistan, the Indo-Pakistan war of 1947 and the integration of over 500 princely states to form a united nation.
On Independence Day, India embraces and simultaneously reflects on the rich heritage of the past, the values, culture and traditions. From the perpetual snows of the Himalayas to the refined peninsula of far South, India is as rich as it is diverse. At 1 billion-plus people, India is one of the world’s most populous countries.
|< Prev||Next >|