India will be celebrating its 73rd Independence Day on Thursday, remembering its great leaders and freedom fighters who laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.
It was a hard-fought struggle that was waged by countless Indians — both men and women. Britain had reconciled to the fact that it won’t be long before it surrenders to the call of the 40 crore people of this undivided nation. By early 1947, there was a growing feeling that Britain will cede power to India. In February, the British House of Commons declared its intention of abandoning the authority.
But the country had to wait till mid-August of that historic year for independence. One would have hoped that with the passage of the Indian Independence Act on July 5, 1947, the historic day would come soon. But why did we have to wait till August 15?
Here are the 10 fascinating facts about August 15 that you need to know.
1. Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, considered August 15 an auspicious day for him. It was on this day in 1945 that Japan had surrendered to the Allied forces in World War II.
2. India was not the only country to get independence on August 15. North and South Korea celebrate this day as their national liberation day. Then there is Bahrain, Liechtenstein and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where was Mahatma Gandhi on this day?
3. Gandhi remained absent from Delhi as Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the National Flag. He was fasting the entire day in North Calcutta as communal carnage had engulfed the entire city.
4. According to a British tabloid, the value of 10 gram gold then was Rs 88.62. It is now trading at Rs 26,000 a gram.
5. The rupee rate today is roughly Rs 71/dollar. In 1947, Rs 1 was equal to 1 dollar.
6. Independence, however, did not bring joy to all. On August 15, the streets of Delhi, the alleys in Punjab were teeming with lakhs of refugees, homeless and away from their loved ones. Nearly, 35 lakh Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India from Pakistan.
7. One of the youngest freedom fighters who laid down their lives for the country was Khudiram Bose. He was hanged when he was just 19.
8. On August 15, Jammu and Kashmir and some other princely states were undecided whether to join India, declare independence or join Pakistan. Few would be aware that if tribesmen from across the border had not attacked Jammu and Kashmir, it would have gone to Pakistan.
9. With India gaining independence, Portugal amended its constitution to make Goa a Portuguese state. Goa was liberated in 1969.
10. When the tricolour was raised on the afternoon of August 15, there was brief rain in the national capital, followed by a rainbow formation. People gathered at the ceremony declared it as a ‘heavenly flag, which would augur well for the country.