7 Lesser Known Facts About India’s Independence
Do you know why August 15 was chosen as Independence Day?
India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. We have come a full circle where once again the theme of a “self-reliant India” has become an imperative.
In this blog, I will discuss some lesser-known facts about India’s independence.
Why does India still have to pay royalty to the British?
Why did the British wait to announce the Partition two days after August 15?
These are a few of the questions I seek to answer with this blog. Read on to find out more.
1. The Reason Lord Mountbatten chose August 15 as Independence Day
Why was August 15 chosen as the exact date of our Independence? This date was of personal interest to Lord Mountbatten. The date when Japan surrendered in World War II after being wrecked by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings was the 15th of August, 1945.
And Lord Mountbatten had himself accepted the Japan surrender since he had been Supreme Allied Commander of South-East Asia Command at that time.
When Lord Mountbatten himself was asked why he chose this particular date for independence, he was quoted to have said the following.
“The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was the master of the whole event. When they asked: had I set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September and then I went out to the 15th of August. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.”
2. India still has to pay Rupees 1 crore 20 lakhs from the budget (railways) to the British Company every year
When the Indian Railways was nationalised in the year 1951, there is a particular metro line in Maharashtra established by the British that was missed out. This track connects the two regions of Yavatmal and Murtijapur in Maharashtra.
This track forms an important mode of communication for people who travel between the two cities for their work. You can read about the report that talks about this here.
3. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was assigned as India’s national anthem only 3 years after Independence
India did not have any official national anthem from 1947–1950. Rabindranath Tagore had written ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as a poem that was published in the Adi Brahmo Samaj journal in 1905. Although the song was selected by Subhas Chandra Bose as the national anthem in 1942, it was officially adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India only on the 24th of January, 1950.
4. South Korea also celebrates its Independence Day on August 15
South Korea was a colony under Japan. So when Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945, South Korea also got its independence simultaneously along with Japan’s surrender. This is why South Korea too celebrates its Independence Day on August 15.
5. The Partition was announced on August 17, though the Boundary Award was ready before August 15
It was well known that the announcement of Partition would only aggravate the already sensitive situation. Hence Evan Jenkins, the then Governor of Punjab had written many letters requesting the Boundary Award to be announced before August 15 so that people would get an advanced intimation if they wanted to migrate. Due to this Sir Cyril Radcliffe had treated it as a matter of urgency and he had the Boundary Award ready by August 9.
But Mountbatten refused to announce it before August 17 to everyone’s surprise. As a result of this, many from the region of Punjab found themselves homeless overnight. This delay was done to shift the onus of responsibility from the British Raj to the newly formed governments.
After 15th August, the people would no longer be able to blame the British and thus the British would not have to deal with the chaos and unrest that would come as an aftereffect of the Partition.
6. Despite being given independence, India was made a dominion under Britain in 1947
The Indian Independence Act passed in the British parliament made India a dominion. This hinted at a sense of authority that the British could still exert over India. But when the Constitution of India was framed, Article 395 from it repealed the Indian Independence Act of 1947.
This is why India got “purna swaraj” or complete freedom only when it became a Republic in 1950.
7. The tricolor India used was not always orange, white and green
On the 7th of August 1906, the tricolor that was hoisted in Calcutta’s Parsi Bagan Square was of green, yellow and red color. The middle strip in yellow had ‘Vande Mataram’ written on it in Devanagri script.
The current Indian flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya, a freedom fighter from Andhra Pradesh. It was made with the handspun ‘khadi’ to promote national sentiment.
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