India achieved independence from the shackles of the British rule on 15th August 1947. The day is celebrated annually across the Country with great pomp and show. Though, the Independence Day of the country is a gazetted holiday and no official work is done, yet people gather to pay their homage to leaders and martyrs who laid their lives during the struggle to attain freedom. Cultural events, flag-hosting ceremonies and parades are hosted in almost all schools, colleges, offices, societies, co-operatives etc. throughout the country. The Prime Minister of India unfurls the Indian flag at the Red Fort, followed by an address to the nation and the entire country rejoices while they chant ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Vande Matram.’
Importance of Independence Day
Independence Day holds a lot of significance in the lives of Indians as it was on this day when the country attained its freedom from the British who ruled the country for more than 200 years. It is a day of pride, glory, and joy for the countrymen who pay their homage and tribute to all the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the motherland. It was on this day that the legislative sovereignty to the ‘Indian Constituent Assembly’ was transferred by the Parliament of the United Kingdom through the ‘Indian Independence Act 1947.’
Besides commemorating the independence of India, this day also reminds the people of the country about the struggles, sacrifices, and resilience of the freedom fighters who retorted to various means including civil disobedience and non-violence in order to throw the foreign rule out of India. This day reminds the people of the country about the dawn of a new era, a new beginning, and the formation of an independent nation after a long and tiresome battle.
As said by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” India did awake to celebrate the freedom of speech, thought, movement, action and mandate.
Independence Day Celebrations
The Independence Day celebrations in India are quite elaborate with preparations commencing from at least a month prior to the D-Day. All major and significant government buildings are illuminated with strings of lights, primarily tri-coloured. Indian flag could be seen fluttering from almost every school, college, government establishments, office buildings and some houses.
- Celebration at The Red Fort
Twenty-one gun shots are fired in honour of the ceremonial. The Prime Minister of India unfurls the national flag and addresses the nation in which annual achievements of the country are highlighted, calls for further development are made, and other important issues are raised. The country stands to the national anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana.’ This is followed by a march past by paramilitary forces and divisions of the Indian Armed Forces. Parades and Pageants showcasing the country’s vast cultural traditions are also performed.
- Celebration in Schools
Every school celebrates Independence Day with a lot of gaiety. Children dress up in tri-coloured attires or as the freedom fighters, who laid their lives during the freedom struggle. Inter-house or inter-school parade competitions are held in schools. Flag hoisting ceremony is held followed by dancing, singing, essay-writing, debate and drawing competitions. A number of other cultural programs also take place. Sweets, ice-creams and candies are distributed to the students.
- Celebration By Countrymen
People of the country celebrate this day by going on picnics, watching patriotic movies or going out for lunch or dinner with family and close friends. Kite flying competitions are also held by various non-profit organizations or clubs, colonies, and societies. The sky is dotted with tri-coloured and colourful kites with people shouting ‘Kai Po Che,’ meaning ‘I have cut, or, a victory shot,’ that can be heard from almost every corner of the streets.
- Celebration By Indian Diaspora
The countries and regions with higher concentrations of Indian immigrants celebrate this day with pageants and parades. In New York and other U.S cities, 15th August has become ‘India Day’ among the local populace and Indian diaspora.
A number of fun-filled activities are organized by malls and big shopping complexes where exciting prizes are distributed to the winners. Catchy offers and discounts are also offered by retail chains.
Commemorative stamps depicting nationalistic themes, independence movement leaders, and defence-related themes are published by ‘Indian Postal Service,’ on 15th August.
Online and print media hold special contests and programs to promote the day. Patriotic movies highlighting the significance of independence and the struggle of the freedom fighters are broadcast on television. All radio channels play patriotic songs and hymns to mark the day.
Since 2003, Google also commemorates the day with a special doodle to mark the Indian Independence Day.
Security Threats and How the Country Combats
Merely three years after the independence, the boycott of Independence Day celebration in the northeast India was called by ‘Naga National Council.’ The celebrations were marred by terrorist attacks and boycott calls by insurgent organizations like ‘National Democratic Front of Bodoland’ and ‘United Liberation Front of Assam.’ From late 1980s, the increasing insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir led to protestors boycotting the celebrations with strikes or bandh, flag burning and use of black flags. Moist rebel organizations, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Hizbul Mujahideen have issued threats, called for boycotts and have carried out terrorist attacks around the Independence Day.
Security measures within the country are intensified especially in New Delhi, troubled states like Jammu and Kashmir and other metropolitan cities of the country in anticipation of such terrorist activities or attacks few days before the Independence Day. Additional police forces are deployed and security is stepped up. In order to combat aerial attacks, the airspace around the Red Fort is declared a no-fly zone.
….Still A Long Way To Go
India has shown phenomenal growth since its independence. Between all the political dramas there have been some path-breaking achievements and developments. India has witnessed growth in various fields including science and technology, but there is still a lot to be achieved, a lot to be done. Though the country has been able to make a mark in several fields at global levels, yet there is still a long way to go.