This Is Why 15th August Was Chosen As Independence Day For India

This year Indian celebrates its 70th independent year. However, choosing 15th August as the day of Independence was not just a mere coincidence.

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India’s fight for independence is till date one of the biggest highlights of India’s history. Not only did it take years of efforts and millions of sacrifices, India’s trade off with Independence through Indo-Pak slit was a painful choice on the cost of many.

In 1929, when Jawaharlal Nehru called for ‘Poorna Swaraj’ as the President of Congress, January 26th was chosen as the day of Independence. Infact, Congress continued to celebrate this day till 1950 when it was finalized as Republic Day post-India independence. The day marked India as a sovereign, free from any British interference.

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So how did 15th August became the exact day Indian would be free?

According to the historical facts, the British parliament had given Lord Mountbatten the mandate to transfer the power by June 30, 1948. But given the gravity of the situation and India’s unstoppable Independence revolution, there would have been no power to transfer had the British waited till 1948, as said by C Rajagopalchari.

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Mountbatten hence decided to prepone the time to August 1947. At that time, he gave the explanation that by advancing the date there will be no time for riots or bloodshed. How we wish that was true. After the Indo-Pak partition and the bloodshed, he justified by saying, “wherever colonial rule has ended, there has been bloodshed. That is the price you pay.”

Hence the Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons on July 4, 1947, and was passed with a fortnight. It declared the end of the British rule in India on August 15th and the establishment of Dominions of India and Pakistan, allowing them to recede from the British Commonwealth.

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At the Freedom of Midnight, Mountbatten claimed,

“The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was master of the whole event. When they asked had we set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September and I then went out to the 15th August. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.”

How did Japan come into the scene? Well, on August 15th, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito had released a recorded address that later came to be known as the Jewel Voice Broadcast. He had announced the surrender of Japan to the allied. Mountbatten himself had signed the formal Japanese surrender as the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia Command on September 4, 1945. Marking the second anniversary of the day Japan surrendered, India got its Independence on 15th August.

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Technically, the Indian Independence Bill gave 15th as the date of independence for both India and Pakistan. The first stamp issuing Pakistan its freedom mentioned 15th August as the big day. Jinnah, in his first address to Pakistan, had said,

“August 15 is the birthday of the independent and sovereign state of Pakistan. It marks the fulfillment of the destiny of the Muslim nation which made great sacrifices in the past few years to have its homeland.”

However, from 1948 onwards, Pakistan started celebrating August 14th as its Independence Day, either because the ceremony for transfer of power in Karachi was held on August 14, 1947, or because of August 14, 1947, was the 27th of Ramadan, a very sacred date to the Muslims.

While the dates for India’s independence do mark a day when history was created, the sheer struggle and patriotism showcased by both countries in achieving that freedom is nowhere compared to a number on the calender.

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