Independence Day, August 14,
commemorates the day in 1947 when Pakistan achieved freedom from British
rule. It is celebrated with flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural
programs in the state capitals. The Prime Minister's speech at the Red
Fort in Delhi is the major highlight.
All Government Organisations have a holiday as 15th August is a
National holiday . In the capital New Delhi most of the Government
Offices are lit up. In all the cities around the country the Flag
Hoisting Ceremony is done by politicians belonging to that constituency.
In various private organisations the Flag Hoisting Ceremony is carried
out by a Senior officer of that organisation. On Television, various
Independence related programs are telecasted, reminding us of the hard
times faced by the freedom fighters.
In almost all the schools and colleges around the country, no academic
work in done on this day, but all the students and staff members are
present on this day and there is a sort of gathering of the entire
school/college within their respective premises and the flag hoisting
ceremony takes place,(usually in the presence of the principal)and
singing of the National Anthem. After this there are various cultural
activities held in the school / college and the celebration continues
till late evening.
At the stroke of midnight, as India moved into August 15, 1947,
Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, read out the famous
speech proclaiming India's independence.
The moment ended three centuries of British colonial rule. The land was
no longer the summer retreat of British sahibs who fancied spices,
shikar, elephants and snake-charmers.
Independence was also the end of nearly a century of struggle for
freedom, battles, betrayals and sacrifices. It also created a situation
where we were responsible for ourselves.
But it wasn't a period of unqualified joy. For a lot of people, in
spite of a new era promised by independence, partition was a painful
reality and so was the bloodshed that accompanied it. That was 53 years
ago. Much has changed; the struggle for freedom lives on in history
books and memoirs, and on the tombstones of valiant martyrs. Politics
has undergone a personality change from fiery idealism to a pragmatic
cynicism. Karma drives the nation on its way forward, and population has
crossed the billion mark.
But, come August 15, and the people put their troubles behind them for
a while, as they stand up as a nation for the National Anthem. Along
with the soaring cadences of the anthem, the hopes and dreams for a
better tomorrow are renewed in political speeches and replays of the
deeds of those who earned us our freedom.
Independence Day is an occasion to rejoice in our freedom and to pay
collective homage to all those people who sacrificed their lives to the
cause. But it is more than that. It also marks the coming together of
more than 400 princely states into one nation - India. This was probably
our biggest diplomatic success.
Each year, August 15 gives us the reason to celebrate all this, and do
much more - it is a time to contemplate what we have and how we achieved
Though India had no dearth of religious and community festivals, there
was, till Independence, no true national festival that the whole country
could partake of. Independence Day, beginning as a day to commemorate
the greatest moment in Indian history, has now come to signify a feeling
of nationalism, solidarity and celebration.
Independence Day remained the sole national festival till India
declared itself a republic in 1950. On January 26, 1950, Republic Day
became the second Indian national holiday.
Background to the freedom struggle
Before the 18th century, India's relationship with the West had been
predominantly trade-related. All this changed when the forces of the
East India Company defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Calcutta.
That signalled the arrival of the British as rulers. Till the Sepoy
Mutiny of 1857, the East India Company, with the Governor General as its
head, ruled the subcontinent. After that, the Crown took over the
administration, with the Viceroy as its representative.
In the 20th century, the country witnessed the rise of many leaders
such as Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai
Patel. Banded under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of
non-violence, the freedom struggle moved ahead with new vigour.
Milestones like the Quit India Movement, Non-Cooperation Movement,
Khilafat Movement and Gandhi's Dandi March brought the inevitable
August 15, Independence Day, is celebrated in a mood of abandon and joy
- no rituals, just festivities. It is also a national holiday, with
educational institutions, private and government organisations remaining
closed, but for official celebrations in the morning.
Schools and colleges mark the day with cultural activities, drills,
flag hoisting and distribution of sweets. Government as well as private
organisations celebrate it similarly.
Families and friends get together for lunch or dinner, or for an
outing. Housing colonies, cultural centres, clubs and societies hold
entertainment programmes and competitions, usually based on the freedom
The Prime Minister sets the mood by hoisting the national flag and
addressing the nation from the Red Fort, the historical monument in
Delhi. This is accompanied by a march-past of the armed and police
forces. Similar ceremonies are held in all the state capitals. The Prime
Minister's address and the march-past are relayed live on national
In cities, one sees a sudden burst of saffron, green and white, the
Indian tri-colour. The media goes to town with a variety of contests,
promotions and programmes related to Indian independence. Television
channels show patriotic movies and relentlessly play patriotic songs
from old and new Hindi movies. Billboards on roadsides for different
brands pay their tribute to the nation.
Everyone seems to have something going for them. Shops and petty
tradesmen sell a range of Independence Day merchandise such as flags,
stickers, tee-shirts and greeting cards. Street urchins hawk paper and
plastic flags and tri-coloured balloons to motorists at traffic signals.
Though a trifle commercial and jingoistic, what lies beneath the
celebrations is the national spirit of gaiety, pride and hope for a
better future. A spirit and hope that is renewed each year.