Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was India’s great statesman and the first Prime Minister.
During his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech, close to the midnight hour of 14 August 1947, he most famously said.
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history when we step out from the old to the new when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity….”
Indian Independence Day is celebrated on 15 August 1947 each year commemorating the nation’s Independence.
It all started when the British landed in India in Surat on August 24,1608. Click here to read more
The British Raj, the period of direct British rule over the Indian subcontinent, was from 1858 until the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.
Even after India achieved the full transfer of power on 15 August 1947, the country still retained King George V1 as its Head of State until its transition to a full republic.
The nation adopted the Constitution of India, on 26 January 1950, which is celebrated as ‘India Republic Day’.
During the struggle for Independence, there were many incidents of cruelty and brutality.
It was the unbelievable courage of the resistance fighters that led the Independence movement which included leaders from the Indian National Congress Party and their supporters.
The movement was also represented by a young Indian man from Gujarat.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi studied Law in London and became an accomplished lawyer in South Africa where he lived and worked for some time. He faced discrimination in South Africa and fought for equality.
He later returned to India and led successful ’civil disobedience’ and ‘non-violent resistance’ campaigns against the British.
Gandhi became the President in 1924 of the Congress Party and became a major force in its drive for independence.
One of his most famous campaigns was the ‘Salt March’ from Ahmedabad to the Indian Ocean at Dandi from 12 March to 6 April, 1930. Click here to read more.
Gandhi stopped wearing the tailored suits, shirt and pants he previously wore as a young lawyer in bid to boycott textiles from England and he encouraged his supporters to do the same.
Instead he wore the dhoti and shawl, spun from Indian cotton, as part of his spiritual and political philosophy and in representing the people, in particular, the poorest of the poor.
His non-violent resistance campaigns ultimately inspired civil rights leaders including the late Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movements around the world.
He became revered throughout the world with the highest of honours bestowed upon him by his own people as the ‘Mahatma’, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Great Soul’.
Albert Einstein never met Mahatma Gandhi but through their correspondences, and Gandhi’s character and influence on India and the world, he held him in high regard:
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Albert Einstein
Independence conceded with the partition of India in which British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan.
Gandhi and the leaders of the Indian National Congress Party believed Independence should be achieved under one unified India representing all religions and not one divided by religion.
Lord Louie Mountbatten the Viceroy of India oversaw the partition. He then served as the first Governor-General of India until June 1948.
On 15 August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian National flag above the Lahori Gate at the Red Fort in Delhi.
This year Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minster, has that honour.
So it is after the immense struggle for freedom and the extraordinary achievements of those in leadership, that Indian Independence Day is celebrated with pride.
When Jawaharlal Nehru delivered that landmark speech to the Constituent Assembly of India in New Delhi, on the eve of Independence, he put forth a question.
“..The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?…” Jawaharlal Nehru.
Click here to read the full speech.
India has a population of over 1.3 billion and is the second most populous nation in the world.
India is also represented by 18 million global diaspora and is the world’s largest democracy.
In 2016, there were 675,658 people in Australia who claimed Indian ancestry constituting 2.8 per cent of the Australian population.
Keen to learn more reach or engage the Indian community in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]