I want to take this opportunity to wish my Internet friends in India and in Pakistan a happy Independence Day today. I feel privileged to regularly correspond with special people in both nations.
Both India and Pakistan obtained their Independence from Britain on this date in 1947. The development of both modern nations has been long intertwined and complex. South Asia is of particular interest because of the area’s place in the world’s ancient history. The subcontinent is one of the first places that civilization began.
There is enough history in South Asia to fill libraries and museums to overflowing. This includes both ancient and modern times. So, what happened nearly three-quarters of a century ago to make today important?
Political Independence from the British Dominion was quite lengthy, harsh, and nuanced. For brevity’s sake, I’ll outline only the very bare-bones official political events.
The struggle for independence from Britain began in earnest when Jawahrarlal Nehru proclaimed “Poorna Swaraj” or total freedom from colonial rule on January 26, 1929. India’s Congress Party celebrated January 26th as Independence Day until colonial rule ended.
The last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, was given a mandate by the British parliament to transfer power by June 30, 1948. However, due to the continued strife and conflict, Mountbatten figured that had he waited until then, “there would have been no power left to transfer.” So, the Viceroy moved the transfer date ahead to August of 1947.
British Parliamentarians followed Mountbatten’s advice and the Indian Independence legislation was introduced in the House of Commons on July 4, 1947 and passed within two weeks. In its finished form, the law called for the establishment of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, in turn, they were given permission to secede from the British Commonwealth of Nations. All of these were to happen on August 15th of that year.
The transfer of power from Great Britain to the governments of India and Pakistan did take place peacefully on August 15, 1947. Now, Independence Day is celebrated each August 15th in both nations. By the way, the old Indian Independence Day, January 26th, is now celebrated as Republic Day in India.