India was under the British rule for almost 200 long years. Every Indian is aware of the freedom struggles and the historic sacrifices that freedom fighters endured, which did lead to India being free from the shackles of the British. This year, as we celebrate 71 years of independence, take a look at some facts that might not have been in our history textbooks.
1. The date of August 15 was chosen by the Last Viceroy and first Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, as it was the same day in 1945 that Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces at the end of the World War II.
2. During Independence, India didn’t have any National Anthem. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1911 (in Bengali version) and was officially adopted in 1950.
3. Cyril John Radcliffe drew the boundary between India and Pakistan, who was a British lawyer and a Law Lord. He did not have complete information about the geography of India and divided the boundary without knowledge of the demography of the region.
4. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel won the Prime Ministry elections fair and square but Nehru didn’t want to play second in command to anyone. And also Gandhi had a soft spot for Nehru, hence, Sardar Patel was pulled down from the PM position.
5. Our National flag is said to be first hoisted on August 7, in 1906, in Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park), in Calcutta.
6. The credit for designing the first version of the present national flag of the country goes to Pingali Venkayya at Bezwada (in 1921). The red and green colors stood for the two main communities of India, with the white one standing for the rest of them. The white strip had a spinning wheel inside it, which has now been replaced by the Ashoka Chakra, while the red strip has been replaced by a saffron one.
7. The Congress observed 26 January as the Independence Day between 1930 and 1946. The celebration was marked by meetings where the attendants took the “pledge of independence”. Following the actual independence in 1947, the Constitution of India came into effect on and from 26 January 1950; since then 26 January is celebrated as Republic Day.
8. Indian Independence Day is celebrated around the world with parades and pageants, particularly in regions with higher concentrations of Indian immigrants. In some locations, such as New York and other US cities, 15 August has become “India Day” among the diaspora and the local populace.
9. On Independence Day, in anticipation of terrorist attacks, security measures are intensified, especially in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai and in troubled states such as Jammu and Kashmir. The airspace around the Red Fort is declared a no-fly zone to prevent aerial attacks and additional police forces are deployed in other cities.
10. August 15 is celebrated as Independence Day not only in India, but also in five other countries – Bahrain, North Korea, South Korea, Liechtenstein and Republic of Congo.