On 15 August, 1947, the British Raj came to an end in India, ending 200 years of colonisation.
Commemorating the nation's freedom from the British rule, the country is celebrating its 74th Independence Day on 15 August.
However, celebrations this year are muted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event at Red Fort, unlike other years, saw a reduced list of dignitaries in attendance, police personnel in protective gear and no participation of school children.
This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's seventh Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. The ceremony included a guard of honour by the armed forces and Delhi Police to the PM, unfurling of the national flag, firing of the 21-gun salute and the singing of the national anthem, apart from the speech. The event concluded with the release of tri-coloured balloons.
History of Independence Day
The British East India Company first arrived in India in 1619, setting up trading posts in the port of Surat, Gujarat. It slowly established itself at a position of authority with the victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Battle of Buxar in 1764. Following the triumphs, it started expanding its power to other parts of the country through wars and annexations.
Rebellions against the British started as early as the 1750s and in 1857 came the Indian rebellion which would later develop into a full-fledged battle for freedom.
From the 1920s, Mahatma Gandhi was established firmly as the leader of the Indian Independence movement. The period also saw such leaders like BR Ambedkar championing for the rights of lower castes. When the Quit India movement launched in 1942, Britain which was fighting against Germany, promised to grant India independence after the World War II.
By the end of the war, Britain was unable to resist the overwhelming demand for India's independence. Subsequently, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, proposed the Radcliffe Line and submitted his plan for both the west and east borders on 9 August, 1947. The end of the British colonial rule for India came into effect at the stroke of midnight on 15 August, 1947.
Significance of Independence Day
The day is a reminder of the sacrifices of the freedom fighters who stood up against the British oppressors to end the colonial rule. The first Prime Minister of Independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted India's tricolour flag at the Red Fort on 15 August, 1947, a practice that continues till date.