This Day That Year : 5 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know Happened on August 15, 1947

India and Pakistan are twins, but with different birth dates. Do you know why?

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India pakistan
Flags of India and Pakistan. wikimedia
  • Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day on August 14
  • Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his speech ‘Tryst With Destiny’ to herald the beginning of a new India
  • The decision of India’s date of independence was taken by then Viceroy Lord Mountbatten

New Delhi, August 15, 2017 : It was a Thursday unlike any other. India’s independence on August 15, 1947 marked more than just a date in historical records and text books. One date unchained almost one-fifth of the world’s population at the time from colonial rule.

You will come across numerous articles on the internet that will test you on things that you didn’t know about India’s independence. But this is not just another article on the internet and it is not what this article will do.

Instead, what this article will do is tell you five things that happened on this day that year; that is five things that happened on August 15, 1947 – a day that has been forever etched in history as the Indian Independence Day.

 

  1. The then Viceroy Lord Mountbatten pre-poned the date of Independence by an entire year
  • The 1940s saw the awakening of the Indian masses, courtesy Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose (by his contribution to the formation of the Indian National Army).
  • By the end of the II World War in 1945, the British were financially weak. This mired them to run their own country, let alone the many colonies.
  • Labour Party emerged victorious in the Britain elections (1945) which promised to grant independence to countries that were British colonies, including India.

Talks had already begun on the transfer of power, to overlook which Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of the British Empire in February 1947.

According to the original plan, power was to be transferred from Britain to India in June 1948, but Jinnah’s demand for a partition instigated polarization and large scale violence in the territory. Thus, the inability and reluctance to control the warring citizens forced Lord Mountbatten to pre-pone the date of independence by almost a year, from 1948 to 1947.

The decision of the date of indian independence was Lord Mountbatten's
Lord Mountbatten with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Wikimedia

  1. Pakistan chose to shift its date of Independence from August 15 to August 14

Even though Pakistan celebrates 14th August as its Independence Day, technically the day it achieved independence was the same as India, that is August 15th. This can be supplemented with the Independence of India Act which states “as from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty seven, two independent dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.” 

However, to commemorate Pakistan’s independence, this date was shifted to August 14 for which a variety of explanations are given,

  • It is widely postulated that Lord Mountbatten delivered the King’s message of independence on August 14 in Karachi because of which the date is considered the official date of the declaration of Independence of Pakistan.
  • Others believe that August 14 was the 27th day of Ramzan which made it an extremely auspicious day in Islam and hence favoring the choice.
  • It is also believed that Lord Mountbatten was supposed to be a part of independence celebrations of both the countries. To ensure his attendance, Pakistan shifted the date to 14th.

This makes India and Pakistan twins, but with different birth dates.

ALSO READ Five Important Eras in Indian History: How the Indian Map was drawn and redrawn!

  1. August 15 was the date of independence but Partition took place two days later

Contrary to popular belief, the activities at Delhi on August 15, 1947 went on very smoothly and two independent dominions emerged. However, the official announcement of the partition of these ‘two’ new countries was yet to be made.

Today, parts of Punjab are very well known to exist on both sides of the border dividing India and Pakistan. Being one of the biggest states of the time, it was expected to witness mass migrations upon partition. To keep things under control, a smart option would have been to announce the partition of the country before announcing independence to steer clear of any confusion and allow people to move to the country they wanted to live in.

The partition led to mass killings and crimes
The partition led to mass migration of people across both sides of the border. Wikimedia

But Lord Mountbatten refused to publish the new boundary guidelines before August 17. This was because the migration was sure to cause large scale chaos, crime and killings. If that happened before independence was announced, the British Raj would have had to hold responsibility.

Hence, the official announcement of the boundary was published on August 17, 1947 which means on the morning of August 15, the people of Punjab did not know whether they were living in India or in Pakistan.

 

  1. Despite succumbing to their rule for over 100 years, Indians bid a tender farewell to their departing colonizers

On the day of the Transfer of Power, while Hindus and Muslims continued to butcher each other in different parts of the country, a whole lot of them united to send-off British colonizers with warmth and affection. This can be supplemented by records from the Indian Army’s journal, Fauji Akhbar which described the events of the day :

“(The Governor-General) was acclaimed as no other Governor-General of India within living memory has been greeted. Cries of ‘Mountbatten Zindabad’ and ‘Lord Sahib Zindabad’ were heard.”

The reception at New Delhi, and eventually the farewell at Bombay given to the British troops and Lord Mountbatten was indeed very warm and overwhelming (not to forget very contradictory) as thousands of people chanted ‘England Zindabad’ and ‘Jai England’ for their ex-colonizers.

 

  1. There was no performance of the National Anthem on 15 August 1947

In the fifth session of the constituent assembly, as it struck midnight and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru recited words that were to become history, India heralded a new beginning. Power was thus, transferred from Britain to India and ministers were sworn in. However, during the Indian independence ceremony, the national anthem was not sung.

The speech was made at midnight of 15 august 1947
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru delivering his tryst with destiny speech. Wikimedia

Although Jana Gana Mana had been already written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1911, it was not officially adopted as the national anthem of India until 1950.

 


 

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