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Date with destiny

Great minds: Gandhiji and Nehru played prominent roles in the freedom movement. Photo: AP

Great minds: Gandhiji and Nehru played prominent roles in the freedom movement. Photo: AP  

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Read on to find out why August 15 was chosen date for India's independence.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the undisputed leader and pioneer of the non-violent movement, became the face of the Congress soon after the First World War. He called it Satyagraha, meaning ‘moral domination’. On December 28, 1885, the Indian National Congress was formed in Bombay and played a prominent role in the fight for independence.

Reckoning force

Gandhiji and other leaders advocated the importance of Swaraj or ‘self rule’. In August 1942, Gandhiji started the Quit India Movement and launched a mass civil disobedience movement “Do or Die”. Large-scale violence directed at railway stations, telegraph offices, government buildings followed. Many prominent leaders were arrested as a result. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose managed to escape and reach foreign lands. He formed the Indian National Army (INA) to overthrow the British in India. With the help of Japan, Bose freed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the British and returned to India via the North Eastern border. However, with the Japanese being defeated in World War II (WWII), he had to retrace his steps, and was eventually killed.

By the end of WWII, Britain was in a financial crisis and they were finding it difficult to rule their own country and their colonies. Soon after, the Labour Party came to power in Britain and promised to work on granting independence to English colonies including India.

In February 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of India to oversee the transfer of power by June 1948. Coming to a consensus was, however, a problem.

There were communal disturbances across India. These circumstances forced Mountbatten to shift the date of independence from 1948 to 1947.

August 15 was the chosen date as Lord Mountbatten considered August 15 to be a lucky day for him. As it was on this date in 1945 that the Japanese Army had surrendered during WWII. But, many astrologers considered August 15 to be inauspicious for India.

So, the Constituent Assembly met to celebrate India’s independence at 11 p.m. on August 14, 1947 and India became was born.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made his “Tryst with Destiny” speech, marking the start of a new era. And that was why he said, “...At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”

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Printable version | May 22, 2019 10:57:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/read-on-to-find-out-why-august-15-was-chosen-date-for-indias-independence/article7534648.ece

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