for the kids

INDIA'S INDEPENDENCE DAY ... 15TH AUGUST!

Every kid of Indian origin must know about the freedom fight that led to the birth of the world's largest democracy, India. On the occasion of India's Independence Day, lets refresh the story of India's birth as an independent nation with our children, for India today might not be what the fathers visualized, in spite of the many progress made, but the story of the struggle told and re-told will certainly help in shaping it to be that ...

VANDE MATARAM!

Aug 15

India’s Freedom Struggle 

India became an independent nation on Aug 15th 1947. India’s freedom struggle against the British is largely known the world over for its non-violence nature as led by Mahatma Gandhi, who came to be known as the Father of the Nation in the independent India.  

 

India’s first step against the British came to be known as the Mutiny of 1857. Large parts of India were under the control of East India Company, a British enterprise that had arrived in India in early 1600s with the purpose of doing trade, but was ruling over the people of India by the end of 17th century. The mutiny by soldiers in Meerut in 1857 against their British commanders was significant because with that the East India Company was abolished and India came under the direct rule of the British Crown. It also led to political awareness and therefore emergence of leaders.

 

In 1885, the India National Congress was formed, mainly representing the elite. Then came Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the Indian political scene and proclaimed that, “Swaraj (self rule) is my birthright, and I shall have it". This would go on to inspire many Indians.

 

In 1905, Curzon, the then British Viceroy, divided Bengal into two parts, as part of their 'Divide and Rule' policy. The protest against the British rule began in earnest across the nation, chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ which was taken from a novel called Anandamath by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, resonating everywhere. The partition was eventually reversed in 1911 during the visit of Emperor George V of Britian to India.

The fight against the British gained momentum when a young lawyer entered the Indian political scene. This was 1915 and the young lawyer was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was 36. He was returning from South Africa, where he had already started his fight against the British by opposing discrimination against the colored. He didn’t waste time, starting the Satyagraha Movement- the force of truth and calling upon people to practice ‘Ahinsa’, non-violence. And that is how from that point on, the Indian Freedom fight came to be based on Non-Violence.

 

Then in 1919, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened. General Dyer and his troops had killed hundreds and injured thousands of unarmed people under the pretext of Rowlatt Act that banned assembly of people. That triggered Gandhiji’s Non-Cooperation and Boycott Movement of 1920. People wore ‘kadhi’ (Indian fabric), resigned from British employment, forsake their titles, refused to pay taxes- basically boycotting anything British. Jawarharlal Nehru, who would go on to become the first Prime Minister of independent India, then entered the scene. He was a young lawyer also. He gave up law, wore kadhi and fell in steps behind Gandhi. There was no turning back. The British rule was shaken with the resulting disorder. However, the movement came to a halting stop with the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922 when an angry mob set a police chowki on fire, killing 23 people. Gandhiji was upset. Non-Violence policy was violated.

 

 

The British continued to lose control over India. However, not everyone was with Gandhi on his path of non-violence. These were the revolutionaries who did play an important role in getting India its independence. There was Chandrashekar who was once caught singing Vande Matram. When Britishers asked his name, he told them that his name was Azad. It’s said he chanted ‘Vande Matram’, each time that he was whipped by them. He joined another revolutionary called Bhagat Singh who shot and killed a British officer. Then on April 8th, 1929, Bhagat Singh and another revolutionary managed to get passes into the visitors’ gallery on the Parliament House and threw a bomb on the floor and fired shots in the air and threw leaflets with revolutionary messages all over the parliament. They surrendered and were hanged. Later, there’ll be Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who’ll lead the ‘Azad Hind’ (free India) Movement in 1939 that inspired many but ended with his death. 

In 1929, the Indian National Congress, called for ‘Purna Swaraj’ (complete independence) and Civil Disobedience Movement was launched throughout the country. In 1930, Gandhi undertook the famous ‘Dandi March’, walking for 25 days to the salt-rich sea in Dandi, Gujarat, where he and his followers boiled water and made salt, breaking the unjust salt law that prohibited Indians to make or sell salt.

 

Finally, from ‘Swaraj’ (self rule) and ‘Purna Swaraj’ (complete independence), the movement moved to ‘Bharat Choro Andolan’ (Quit India Movement) in 1930. Gandhiji asked the British to leave India. The call of time was ‘do or die’. And people did or died, many deviating from the non-violence path.

 

Finally, on 15th August 1947, India became an Independent nation and amidst shouts of ‘Vande Matram’, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the National Flag of free India for the very first time at the Red Fort in New Delhi.

 

Unfortunately, the British policy of divide and rule had borne its own fruit. India was partitioned into a secular India and a Muslim Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of Independent India while Jinnah led Pakistan. The partition was marked by violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims on both sides of the border. The state of Kashmir acceded to the Indian Union, but Pakistan could never accept that. India and Pakistan have fought two wars on the issue, in 1965 and then again in 1971, since then. To this date, they fight over it.

 

And that is the story of India’s Freedom Struggle that resulted in the birth of the world’s largest democracy!

 

Happy Independence Day!

 

Vande Matram!

 

 for the kids

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