History of Independence Day
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 signaled the arrival of the British as rulers. Until 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 served 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 vigor. Milestones like the Quit India Movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, Khilafat Movement and Gandhi's Dandi March brought the inevitable freedom closer.
At the stroke of midnight, as India moved into August 15, 1947, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, read out the decisive speech, proclaiming India's independence from the British Empire. The moment ended three centuries of British rule over India. The land was no longer the summer retreat of British sahibs, who sneaked into the nation to fancy spices, shikar, elephants and snake-charmers, and ultimately ended up getting a stranglehold over the nation and torturing the natives in every possible way. Independence Day remained the sole national festival until India declared itself a republic in 1950.
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. However, it wasn't a period of unqualified joy. For many people, in spite of a new era promised by independence, partition between India and Pakistan was a painful reality and so was the bloodshed that accompanied it. That was six decades ago.
Much has changed over the years - today the freedom struggle finds its place 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. Nonetheless, come August 15 and you will find the people forgetting the drudgery of everyday life for a while, and coming together to pay homage to the brave heroes of the freedom struggle and standing up 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. The day also marks the coming together of the states into one nation - India. This was probably our biggest diplomatic success.