The awakening of masses by Gandhi and the activities of Bose behind the scenes which had intensified during 1940s were already a cause of concern for the British. By the time the World War II had come to an end in 1945, the British were financially weak and were struggling to rule their own country, let alone their colonies. The victory of Labour party in the Britain elections of 1945 was received very well by our freedom fighters because the Labour party had promised to work on granting independence to English colonies including India.
In February of 1947 the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, announced that Britain would turn over the government of India to the Indian people by June of 1948. Attlee met with Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress party and Mohammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League to discuss who would rule India after independence. A major problem came to his attention.
India's Hindus and Muslims were bitterly divided. The Muslim League said that it would never accept Indian independence if it meant rule by the Hindu - dominated Congress party. The Muslim League wanted a partition, which meant a division of British India into two countries; one Hindu and one Muslim. At first Britain was reluctant to form two nations based on religion, but they observed that Muslim and Hindus were already causing violence within India. More than 5, 000 people died in August of 1946 after four days of religious rioting broke out in Calcutta.
The British leaders finally agreed that the partition was the best way to limit bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims within India. It was decided that India would be split into two independent nations. Pakistan would contain the mainly Muslim regions of India, and India would retain the regions of Hindu majority. Borders of the two new countries were hastily drawn, and problems soon arose.
The Muslim and Hindu regions of India were not clearly defined. In fact, there were two mainly - Muslim regions 1, 000 miles apart; one lay to the northwest of India and the other to the northeast. It was decided that these two geographically unconnected regions would become Pakistan and that the rest would be the independent nation of India. And so, in August of 1947, India and Pakistan were officially formed. The partition mainly included dividing three provinces, namely; Punjab, Assam and Bengal. (East Pakistan later got independence and was called Bangladesh in 1971).
It was Lord Mountbatten the last viceroy of India who had personally decided the date of Aug 15 because he had considered that date to be “very lucky” for his career. During the World War II, it was on Aug 15, 1945 that the Japanese Army had surrendered before him as Lord Mountbatten was the commander of the allied forces. Japan had finally surrendered on this day, thus putting an end to the 2nd World War.
When the date of independence was decided in “June 3 plan” and announced to public, there was an outrage among astrologers across the country because 15 - Aug - 1947 was an “unfortunate & unholy” date according to astrological calculations. Alternative dates were suggested but Lord Mountbatten was adamant on Aug 15. As a workaround, the astrologers suggested the midnight hour between Aug 14 and 15 due to the simple reason that the day according to English starts at 12 AM, but according to Hindu calendar, starts at sunrise.
Since India had decided to hold its celebrations on the midnight of August 15, it would have been impossible for Mountbatten — who was still Viceroy — to be present in both Karachi and New Delhi on the same day. “Mountbatten administered the oath to Jinnah a day earlier in Karachi and then went to India. Therefore Pakistan’s Independence Day is celebrated on the 14th of August.
On 14th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly of India met for its fifth session at 11 PM, chaired by first President Rajendra Parasad. In this session, Jawaharlal Nehru delivered the Tryst with Destiny speech, proclaiming India's independence. After the speech at the stroke of midnight, India though partitioned, was handed over back to the Indians. The main partition though, took place 2 days after. More than a million innocent people lost their lives, and the effects of it still remain in the two countries. The reason for this delay being, the British did not want to take any responsibility for the holocaust, and since it happened 2 days after the independence, the British raj had ceased to exist.
Massive crowds thronged Delhi on August 15 for the ceremonies relating to the transfer of power. The people hailed Gandhi and Nehru. The day’s program originally included a ceremonial lowering of the Union Jack. On a request from Mountbatten, however, Nehru agreed to skip this since it could offend the British sensibilities. As the cherry on the cake, British troops departing for the UK were given a very warm send off in Mumbai and since then our independent India has come a long way. India marks its 71st Independence Day this year, with the tricolor flying high and patriotism in every Indian’s very foundation it strives to become a better nation for its people each and every day.
Wishing you all a very Happy Independence Day. Jai Hind!
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