“Long years ago We made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when We shall redeem that pledge not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A movement comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation longed suppressed, finds utterance, it is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity...... We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievements We celebrate today are but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us.”
The above speech was an address to the nation by Jawaharlal Nehru, the maker of modern India and the first Prime Minister of India in the constituent assembly on 15th August 1947.
When the gun salute echoed, at a distance, our Chachaji (Nehru) hoisted the National flagatop the tallmast of the Red Fort. The millions gathered there went into a frency of delight. In the same voice, melody and rhythm, they sang aloud “Jhanda Ooncha Rehe Hamara”.
August 15, 1947 is a sacred day for the Indians, to be written in golden letters. A short history of our freedom struggle under the banner of Indian National Congress is given below
1. The birth of Indian National Congress
The birth of Indian National Congress was an epoch making event in the history of India. The meeting for the formation of Indian National Congress was held on 28th December 1885 in Bombay. Womesh Chandra Banerji, a Bengali Barister was in the chair. A.O. Hume, a retired English Civil Servant played an important role in the formation of the Indian National Congress. The first session of the Indian National Congress was held at Tejpal Sanskrit Padasala in Bombay. It was attended by 72 delegates from different parts of the country. Leaders like DadaBai Navaroji, Ferozha Metha, G. Subramania Iyer, P. Ananda Charl... etc participated in it.
The Second Session was held in Calcutta in 1886. It was presided over by Dadabhai Navaroji, and participated by 434 delegates.
The Third Session was held in Madras in 1887. Badaruddin Tyabji was in the chair. It was attended by 607 delegates. The president of the fourth session was George Yule who was the first Englishman to become its president. It was held in Allahabad in 1858. There were 1245 delegates.
Aims of the organization
The specific aims of the Indian National Congress were given below.
To establish friendly co-operation among the political workers from different parts of the country.
To foster nationalist fervor among the masses irrespective of caste or creed.
To present people’s demands before the government.
To build up public opinion.
Partition of Bengal
In 1905 Lord Curzon, the then British Viceroy of India divided Bengal. He defended the partition as a measure of administrative convenience. But the real motive was to split the people on the basis of religion and thereby weaken the nationalist movement of undivided Bengal. It is part of British policy of “divide and rule”. The partition came into effect on 16th October 1905. The Bengal issue became an all India issue. 16th October 1905 was declared a day of mourning throughout Bengal. The Slogan for a united Bengal and the song “Bande Mataram” written by Bankim Chandra Chatterji echoed in the streets of Bengal. The resentment towards the British was extended to everything that belonged to them. Gopala Krishna Gokhale, president of the Congress in the Benares session in 1905 sharply condemned the retrograde governance of Lord Curzon. Finally the partition was cancelled in 1911.
National leaders felt that the effective ways of expressing people’s feeling and resentment were through the use of Swadeshi goods and through the boycott of British goods. When it was found that the prevailing system of education was ruining the national character, Swadeshi educational institutions were opened all over India. The National College of Calcutta with Aurobindo Ghosh as its principal, was one of such institutions.
The Congress from 1885 to 1906 was in the hands of moderates led by Gokhale. The extremist leaders were Lala Lajapat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Bal Gangadhar Tilak-popularly known as “Lal-Pal-Bal”.The extremists grew displeased at the programmes and the mode of work of the moderates.
Lala Lajapat Rai, the Lion of Punjab, was an active leader of Arya Samaj Tilak drew inspiration from the Vedas and the Bhagavat Gita. He is the author of “Gita Rahasya”. He started two dailies-Kesari in Marathi and the Maratha in English. He declared “Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.” On the other hand, the moderate leaders like Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Feroze Shah Mehta and Dadabai Navaroji wanted to act by the Constitution. The political Guru of Mahatmaji is Gopala Krishna Gokhale. He was the founder of the Servants of India Society.
The difference of opinion between moderates led by Gokhale and the extremists led by Lal-Pal-Bal led to a split in the congress. It occurred in the Surat Session in 1907. The extremists were expelled from the congress. They functioned as a separate wing until their reunion in the Lucknow session in 1916.
Jallian Walla Bagh Massacre
In 1919, the British Government introduced the Montague-Chelmsford reforms in India. It paved the way for the Government of Indian Act of 1919. The congress condemned the Act as disappointing. The changes introduced by the Act were far short of self Government Mass protests were organized and the Government adopted repressive measures and passed the Rowlat Act which authorized the Government to arrest and imprison anybody without trial and conviction. On April 10, 1919, Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, two popular leaders of Punjab were arrested. A protest meeting was organized at Jalian Walla Bagh in Amritsar. General Dyer, the army officer of Amritsar reached there with troops and ordered firing Thousands fell dead and wounded. This incident is called Jallian Walla Bagh Massacre. As a protest against this, Tagore renounced his knighthood presented by the queen of England and Sir C. Sankara Nair resigned his membership from the viceroy’s Executive Council.
In 1915, Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa. In 1917, he mobilized the peasants of Champaran in Bihar against the exploitation of the European Indigo planters. He organized the first experiment of Satyagraha in Charparan. Ahimsa and Satyagraga were two pillars of Gandhian Philosophy. Gandhiji organized three movements against the British Government in India. They are given below.
Non Co-operation Movement of 1920.
The Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930.
The Quit India Movement of 1942.
Non Co-operation Movement
The Nagpore session of the Indian National congress endorsed Gandhiji’s plan of non co-operation with the British government. In February 1922, a mob pushed 21 Police constables and a sub Inspector into a local police station at Chauri–Chaura and set fire to it as a protest against the police firing at a peaceful congress procession. All the 22 police men lost their lives. This incident known as Chauri Chaura incident forced Gandhiji to suspend the Non co-operation movement.
In 1929, the Congress met at Lahore. Jawaharlal Nehru was in the chair. It declared “poorna swaraj” as the aim of the Congress. It decided to celebrate 26th January 1930 as complete independence day. It was also decided to start civil dis-obedience movement under the leadership of Gandhiji. Tri-colour flag was accepted as the official flag of the Congress.
Civil disobedience movement was started by Gandhi on March 1930 with his famous Dandi March. The programmes of the movement were given below.
Violation of salt laws
Boycott of educational Institution
Non payment of taxes
Boycott of foreign goods
Gandhiji organized a march from his Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi sea shore along with 78 of his followers and broke the salt laws by making salt from the sea water. In every corner of the country people responded to the call of Mahatmaji. In the North Western Frontier province, it was led by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, popularly known as frontier Gandhi.
In Kerala, Payyannur was the seat of the salt Satyagraha K. Kelappan was the leader. As per the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Gandhiji suspended the movement and attended the Second. Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Congress.
Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the British Cabinet visited India in 1942 to seek the country’s support during the second world war. He promised dominion status, but the same was rejected by the political parties.
Quit India Resolutions
The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on 8th August 1942, and passed the historic Quit India Resolution. Addressing the congress delegates Gandhiji said “Here is a mantra a short one that I give you”. The mantra is “Do or Die”. We shall either free India or die in the attempt, we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery”.
Netaji Subash Chandra Bose
Netaji is one of the most colourful and eminent personalities in the history of Modern India. Subash Chandra Bose left the congress owing to the difference of opinion with Gandhiji and he formed a political party called Forward Bloc. During the second world war he escaped from India and reached Japan and joined the INA at Singapore. Netaji’s declaration to his fellowmen was “give me blood, in turn I will give you freedom”. The main slogan of INA were “Jai Hind” and “Delhi Chalo” Captain Lakshmi was in charge of its women wing. But when Japan surrendered in August 1945 in the second world war, the INA soldiers laid down their arms. It is believed that Netaji was killed in an air crash in Formosa.
After the second world war Labour party came to power in England Clement Attlee was the Prime Minister. Attlee’s Government sent a three member cabinet mission to India to find a solution to the Indian problem. The recommendation of the cabinet mission are the following
Formation of the Indian Union
Framing up of the Union Constitution by a Constituent Assembly.
Formation of the Interim National Government.
An Interim National Government was formed with Nehru as its head. Lord Wavel, the viceroy, was called back by the British Government and Lord Mount Batten was appointed as new viceroy. Mountbatten, the last viceroy of the British India prepared a plan for the transfer of power. It is known as Mountbatten plan. The Mountbatten plan became the Indian Independence Act. Thus on 15th August 1947 India celebrated with joy as well as grief the first day of its freedom. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of free India. The first president of India was Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The first Governor- General of free India was Lord Mount Batten.
In 1857, a great rebellion broke out in India. British historians described it as a revolt organized by the Indian sepoys. But Indian historians described this as the first war of Indian independence. Karl Marx, was the first western scholar, who described the revolt as a National revolt.
The rebellion broke out at first at Meerut on 10th May 1857. The introduction of the greased cartridges was the immediate cause of the revolt.
Meerut, Delhi, Kanpur, Gwaliar, Jhansi, Lucknow, Barrackpur, etc were the major centres of the revolt.
Jhansi - Rani Lakshmi Bai
Delhi - Bahadur Shah II
Kanpur - Nana Sahib
Lucknow - Begum Hazarat Mahal
Faizabad - Maulavi Ahmadulla
In 1858 the revolt was completely suppressed.
the Indian constituent assembly
As per the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission, Indian constituent assembly was formed. The first session of the Assembly was held on 9th December 1946.
Dr. Sachidananda Sinha, the oldest member of the Assembly was elected as the provisional president. On 11th December Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected the President of the Constituent Assembly. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of the interim Government moved the objective resolution which contained the basic features of the constitution.
The Constituent Assembly elected a drafting committee. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the Chairman .B.N. Rao was appointed legal adviser to the Drafting Committee. The assembly took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to frame the constitution. The Constituent Assembly approved the constitution on 26th November 1949. The new constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950 and our country became Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.
The Indian Constitution is generally described as “a borrowed constitution”. The borrowed principles are given below.
Part III of our constitution provides the following fundamental rights.
Right to equality – Art 14-18
Right to freedom – Art 19-22
Right against exploitation – Art 23-24
Right to freedom of religion – Art 25-28
Cultural and Educational Rights – Art 29-30
Right to Constitutional remedies –Art 32
The right to property which is a fundamental right was repealed by 44th Amendment of the Constitution.
The constitution also has ten fundamental duties incorporated by the 42nd amendment. The 42nd amendment is called “Mini Constitution”. It demands every citizen to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National flag and the National Anthem. It upholds and protects the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
The Planning Commission
The Planning Commission was formed in 1950 in order to estimate the available resources of the country and utilize them in a balanced manner. The prime minister is the chairman of the Planning Commission. The commission decided to formulate the five year plans within the frame work of the constitution. The introduction of the five year plans enabled India to go a long way in the process of development. It led to rapid developments in the country. Gurisari Lal Nanda was the first Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The first chairman was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Government of India announced the formation of “NITI Aayog” on 1st January 2015. NITI-National institution for Transforing India. It replaces Planning Commission.
Chairperson of the NITI Aayog is the Prime Minister. Vice Chairperson is Aravind Panagariya. Raj Nath Sing, Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu and Radha Mohan Sing are the Ex-officio members. As per the Notification issued by the government of India, the NITI Aayog comprises the Prime Minister as its chairperson and the Governing Council of the Chief Ministers of all states and the Lt. governors of the Union Territories. But in the case of Delhi its Chief Minister is a member of NITI Aayog instead of Lt. Governor. The first meeting of the governing council of NITI Aayog is named as “Team India”.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1950-1962)
The first President of India
Popularly known as Bihar Gandhi
President of the Constituent Assembly
Awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1962 while in office
Mahatma Gandhi and Bihar
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (1962-67)
The first vice president of India
The second president of India
Popularly known as the philosopher president
In 1954 received Bhart Ratna while in the office of the Vice-President
September 5, his birth day is celebrated as the Teachers Day.