August 15, 2017: The Independence Day of India is celebrated on the 15th of August to commemorate the birth of a free and democratic nation. 15th August, 1947 is the historic day that marks India’s freedom from the stranglehold of the British Raj. On the eve of 15th August 1947, the Indian flag was unfurled proudly by Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, at the Red Fort in Delhi. Jawaharlal Nehru’s landmark ‘tryst with destiny’ has gone down in the annals of Independent India as a proud moment for Indians. Thus India’s Independence Day is a deeply inspiring day and a day to revel in the freedom and glory regained by our freedom fighters.
India maintained good trade relations with the western world, till the East India Company defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah and set its sight on India with the aim of colonizing it. The East India Company took over and later the Crown ruled with the Viceroy helming the administration.
The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 put paid to the status quo with the Barrackpore Sepoy Mutiny rising up in arms against British rule, as did the Meerut uprising. Soon discontentment took serious proportions in the fierce battle of Jhansi, battle of Kanpur and violence and protests in Bengal, Bihar and Gujarat. The early wave of nationalism from 1885 to 1905 was led by liberalists like Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dadabhai Naoroji and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya who were believers in moderate politics and boasted of legal, literary backgrounds. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the extremists comprising Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and several other leaders dominated the political climate by launching a fierce attack on British rule. They insisted on boycotting foreign products and insisting on ‘swadeshi’ or homegrown products. Bal Gangadhar Tilak gave the call for ’Swaraj’ and very soon the resounding of the slogan "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it" filled the air.
From the Jalianawala Bagh tragedy to the Non-cooperation Movement and Quit India Movement, India’s struggle for freedom is chequered. The era of Gandhian nationalism gave direction to mass movements till the Quit India Movement or ‘Bharat Chhodo Andolan’ in 1942 finally shook the confidence of the British administration. By this time, the two World Wars had already taken its toll on the resources of the British. Finally, the bridled determination of Indians led to the ouster of the British Empire. The powers were transferred to Constituent Assembly in India, and India was declared a free country. India gained its independence on August 15, 1947.
On the eve of India’s Independence Day, the President of India addresses the nation with a heartwarming speech which is telecast on television. On 15th August every year, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at Red Fort in Delhi, followed by the official 21-gun salute and the Prime Minister’s Address. The national anthem is sung and makes every Indian’s heart fill with pride as the music drifts through this monumental structure, once regarded as a bastion of power.
The Prime Minister then presents his speech which evaluates the performance of the past year and offers insights on the way forward for achieving the next milestone. Tributes are paid to the martyrs for their contribution to the freedom struggle. A march past led by the Armed Forces, sequentially followed by the parade represented by the para military forces is held. In a heartrending display that is symbolic of India’s struggle for freedom, pageantry is shown, reminding us of how much our freedom fighters suffered to gain independence. Later, cultural programmes are held highlighting India’s cultural heritage and historic lineage.
In all state capitals of the country, similar programs are held at the state level. The Chief Ministers of the respective states unfurl the national flag and give a speech. This is followed by a parade and cultural events.
Celebrations on Indian Independence Day
The Indian Independence Day is celebrated in all parts of the country with fervent zeal and patriotism. The day ritualistically starts with unfurling of the national flag, followed by a speech and participation in cultural activities in various schools and colleges, residential colonies and cultural institutions. Patriotic songs like “Vande Mataram” and “Jana Gana Mana” are sung and start off any musical concert or programme.
Independence Day in India is observed with great solidarity. All government buildings glow brightly and the flag is seen mounted on top of buildings and houses. Print and various other online media offer special supplement, televise special Independence Day special shows and competitions. TV channels show movies based on India’s freedom struggle. The day is packed with drills and cultural shows, fireworks and outings.
On Indian Independence Day, the ritual of flying kites is ritualistically observed. People keenly fly tri-colored kites, small and big, to mark the occasion. Children wearing tri-colored clothes with ‘I Love India’ slogans and other patriotic messages are seen waving paper flags. Cars and other vehicles are also seen sporting miniatures of the national flag. Independence Day has also given way to the trend of sporting theme wristbands, badges, stickers and flagpins. The air is charged with the mood of festivity. Tricolor mithais are prepared and fly off the shelves in no time. The Independence Day celebrations transcend caste and religion, as citizens unite and sing hymns and songs in harmony and remember our freedom fighters.
Independence Day in India is a national holiday. All government offices, schools, PSUs and banks are closed on this day.