Independence Day 2018: “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” these were the words delivered by the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru on the night of August 15, 1947.
He hoisted the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of Red Fort in Delhi, and this subsequently became a symbolic gesture on every August 15. While India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day this year, we look at the history of this legendary day and why it was chosen as the day of Independence.
HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY
Lord Mountbatten had been given a mandate by the British parliament to transfer the power by June 30, 1948. If he had waited till June 1948, in C Rajagopalachari’s memorable words, there would have been no power left to transfer. Mountbatten thus advanced the date to August 1947.
At that time, Mountbatten claimed that by advancing the date, he was ensuring that there will be no bloodshed or riot. He was, of course, to be proven wrong, although he later tried to justify it by saying that “wherever colonial rule has ended, there has been bloodshed. That is the price you pay.”
Based on Mountbatten’s inputs the Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons on July 4, 1947 and passed within a fortnight. It provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947, and the establishment of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, which were allowed to secede from the British Commonwealth.