India celebrates 15th august of every year as Indian Independence day, but do you know the story behind it. How British came in India and bring India under their control through a business venture. How British Company exploited Indians, how India fought for it’s Independence and finally after two century how India became Independent country. I will take you through the whole journey of History of Indian Independence Day. So lets explore…
East India Company
Vasco Da Gama was the first person who came to India (1498)from European country through sea route, and he opened the door for other Europeans. After that many Europeans started coming to India for trading. In 1600 East India Company came to India for trading. They made their offices in various parts of India. Slowly this company went out spreading its wings and became the major force in India. It started interfering in Indian affairs around 1750s. This company’s troops fought a battle with rulers of Bengal in 1757, which was named as Battle of Palasi. After this battle it started to transform from a trading company to a ruling force. That was the beginning of British Rule in India. Britishers began to spread their tentacles in all over the India. They started exploitation of local resources and people in full force. They were just concerned about their benefit.
They started using people like slave, they started culture and heritage of India. They left a very damaging effect on social, economic, cultural and political life of Indians. They treated Indians and their resources so badly that several tribal and political rebellion broke out against the foreign rule. This was the rebellion of 1857. After that the British Government took the control from East India company to their hand.
Many organisations were formed by some social and political groups. They raised the awareness among the public, contacted with outside world and they led many revolutions to free their motherland. Many of them sacrificed their life. some of them are Bhagat Singh, Chandra Sekhar Azad, Khudiram Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai. This sacrifice showed the result and by the end of nineteenth century the Britishers were forced to quit India.
British Colonialism in India
Britishers played ” Divide and Rule” game with Indian Emperors. They offered some of the local rulers to help them against their adversaries. Since the British were equipped with latest weapon and new war technology so they got the trust of many Indian rulers. In exchange of their support the East Indian Company managed to set up their trading centers in most important places like Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. They gradually started to expand their company.
When they were asked to stop their extension by some rulers, they defeated them one by one. Siraj-ud-daulah the Nawab of Bengal was one of them who was defeated in the Battle of Plassey (1757). After this battle British started colonizing the whole of India.
Many Indian rulers supported British colonization in India for their short term benefit, but many Indian rulers opposed the foreigner ruler. This created a conflict between them which was used by British ruler as advantages. Many Indian ruler came to oppose British rule but all were defeated since British had become very powerful with the support of some Indian rulers. Britishers became so powerful that they defeated some bigger India rulers like Tipu Sultan.
Revolt of 1857
Revolt of 1857 is also called as “First war of Indian Independence“. This revolt was the result of many incidents that happened in last one century, but the immediate reason for the revolt was the issue of ‘greased cartridges. The East Indian Company used to discriminate between Indian and European soldiers. While the Indian soldiers were mistreated using the factors like religion and caste against them, the news of the newly introduced Enfield P-53 rifles using cartridges made out of fat extracted from beef and pork sparked a widespread rebellion against the British. Since the soldiers had to bite the cartridge in order to load the rifle, it was not accepted by Hindu and Muslim soldiers because it hurt their religious beliefs.
Indian soldiers were forced to use this new cartridges. Those who denied were killed by the Britishers. This news got spread across the country. Soldiers from the various places started revolting against the British rule. The situation was controlled by the British government but at the end of it all, at least 800,000 people, including many civilians, were killed. As a result of the rebellion, the British government took control of the administration of India from the East India Company.
The rise of Nationalism
Some great leaders like Bal Gnagadhar Tilak came into existence. He opposed the British education system because it did not portray India’s history and culture in a positive light. He stood for the complete freedom (Swaraj) and created a spark with his famous slogan, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it.” He joined other like-minded leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai. The trio together came to be known as ‘Lal-Bal-Pal,’ but they were expelled from the Congress for spreading violence and disorder. However, they had done enough to instill nationalism into the minds of thousands of Indians.
Partition of Bengal
Since the pre-independent Bengal was very large in terms of its geographical view. It was as big as France. So, the then Viceroy and Governor-General, Lord Curzon, ordered the partition of Bengal in 1905. He kept his view that the partition would lead to a better administration and it will increase the conflict between Hindu and Muslim.
However, the Indian nationalists believed that Lord Curzon was employing the divide and rule policy to create a rift between Hindus and Muslims. This led to a large-scale protest against the British rule, they started boycotting British products and publications of several rebellious newspapers and articles. The government was eventually forced to reunite Bengal in 1911. But a new partition, based on the languages spoken, was created soon after. The partition of Bengal left an indelible mark on the people and political scenario of Bengal.
National Movements & the First World War
The national Movements reached at its peak during the end of nineteenth century and with the turn of new century a huge mass joined them. More and more people started raising the demand of self-rule by joining the hands with nationalist leader and the Congress. These moments were led by some great leader like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gnagadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal.
Though the Indian National Congress was still advocating the importance of the British rule in India, people started participating in mass movements, which inspired others as well. Meanwhile, the World War 1 began. The British Government asked for the support from Indians in first World War and they promised some social benefit in return. As many as 1.3 million Indian soldiers were sent to places like the Middle East, Europe and Africa to fight for the British in the First World War. Also, many individual rulers of different princely states supported the British by sending large supplies of money, food and ammunition.
Arrival of Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi had worked as a barrister in South Africa, where he faced high discrimination between white and black. Gandhi had a weapon of Non-violence to fight or protest against government. In 1914, many political prisoners were freed by General Jan Smuts by the effect of Gandhi’s non-violent protests. A prominent leader of the Indian National Congress Gopal Krishna Gokhale was impressed by his method and requested Gandhi ji to come India and join the National Movement. Gandhi ji came to India and joined the Indian National Congress. He led a Satyagraha campaign in 1917. For the next three years, Gandhiji led many non-violent protests that included Satyagraha and fasting. He applied the concept of Satygraha to fight for the rights of farmers and other peasants.
The Non-Cooperation Movement
In 1919, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered to shoot at a peaceful gathering of men, women and children in Jallianwala Bagh, who had gathered to celebrate Baisakhi and to condemn the arrest of Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satya Pal. Many innocent people were killed including women and children. This inhuman act of the British sent shock waves across India, and received strong criticism and protests all over India. Mahatma Gandhi too strongly condemned it.
The national movement was building-up slowly and the Jallianwalah Bagh incident played an important role in the start of the ‘Non-cooperation Movement.’ It was the first big Satyagraha movement under Gandhi’s leadership. He requested the support of other political and religious leaders and requested Indians to stop using British products.
Gandhiji advocated the use of Khadi over British textiles. He also asked government servants to quit their jobs, and return the British titles and honors. Therefore, many Indians refused to pay taxes and many teachers and lawyers gave up their respective profession. The non-co-operation movement became a huge success throughout India but after the Chauri Chaura incident it was called off by Gandhiji, in which three civilians and 22 policemen were killed.
The Non-cooperation movement became a huge success and people from all regions and status participated at large scale. The entire country was united in the protest of British rule. But the unfortunate incident at Chauri Chaura forced Gandhi to call the movement off. The decision to call-off the non-cooperation movement left many disappointed and was criticized by several leaders.
Azad Hind Fauz
Subhas Chandra Bose quit the Indian National Congress and traveled to many countries to seek help for India’s independence. Bose wanted to raise an Indian army to fight against the British. Based on Hitler’s advice, he went to Japan and formed the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauz). During the Second World War, the Indian National Army managed to capture Andaman and Nicobar islands with the help of the Japanese army. However, Japan was defeated in the Second World War and it impacted the prospects of the INA as well and it’s march was blocked on the Border and many soldiers and officers were arrested.
Quit India Movement
When world war II began, Mahatma Gandhi started his protest for the complete Independence of India. He drafted a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. The ‘Quit India Movement‘ or the ‘Bharat Chhodo Andolan‘ was the most aggressive movement launched by the Indian National Congress. Gandhi was arrested on 9th August 1942, and was held for two years at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. By the end of 1943 the ‘Quit India Movement’ ended after the Britishers agreed that the complete power would be transferred to people of India.
Independence of India
The independence cum partition proposal offered by the British Cabinet Mission in 1946 was accepted by the Congress. Though prominent leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were not willing to accept the formula of partition based on religion, but communal clashes between religious groups hastened the creation of Pakistan. Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel convinced Gandhi that it was the only way to avoid civil war and the Mahatma unwillingly gave his consent. The British Parliament passed the famous Indian Independence Act 1947, and on August 14, Pakistan was declared a free nation. Few minutes later at 12:02 am, India became a democratic nation. This was a very special moment for entire Indian subcontinents. So, India celebrates it’s Independence day on August 15 of every year.
After India’s independence, Gandhi ji focused on peace and unity among the Hindus and Muslims. He began a fast-unto-death in Delhi, asking for all communal violence to be stopped and the payment of Rs. 55 crores, as per the Partition Council agreement, to be given to Pakistan. Ultimately, all political leaders conceded to his wishes.
The constituent assembly took the responsibility of creation of constitution. Headed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect.