India Independence Day: Four things you should know about Partition and this historically important day

Google Doodle marks the 72nd Indian Independence Day

Lucy Anna Gray
Wednesday 15 August 2018 15:15
What is India's Independence Day?

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 72nd Independence Day.

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 today.

How did India become independent?

Although unrest at colonial rule existed long before, the Indian independence movement gained momentum after the First World War. Mahatma 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 in India, with nationalist leaders such as Gandhi 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 Ghandi.

Despite these sentences, demonstrations 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 broadly 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 the signing of the Independence Bill, it was agreed colonial India would be divided into two separate states - one with a Muslim majority (Pakistan) and the other with a Hindu majority (India).

The two countries celebrate on different days because Lord Mountbatten, had to attend the Pakistan celebration on 14 August and then travel to Delhi for India's first independence day on 15 August.

The partition saw over 14 million people displaced and led to the death of up to two million, creating one of the biggest refugee crises in history and a hostile relationship between the divided nations. Riots and fighting were rife, particularly in the western region of Punjab as it was cut in two by the border.

Mahatma Gandhi died during this time. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in January 1948 during a prayer vigil to an area of Muslim-Hindu violence.

How is the day celebrated?

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. Many will wear the nation's colours - green, orange and white - and some even decorate their houses in this manner.

Of course the celebrations are not just isolated to India. People around the world recognise the day, so celebrations can be expected in the vast majority of countries.

The prime minister gives an address to the nation and raises the Indian flag, following a military march. This takes place in Red Fort, Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to mark the day with an address to nation from the Red Fort, Delhi, announcing the launch of the government-funded healthcare programme called the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme.

The programme is being touted as the world's largest health protection scheme with he full roll-out of 'Modicare' expected to be announced from 25 September onwards.

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