AS India celebrates its 70th
Independence Day this month, we bring you some interesting aspects of the historic event. Read on…

» On August 15, 1947, when India became free, Mahatma Gandhi was in Calcutta, spending his day in prayers, fasting and spinning and also protesting the communal violence in the city.

» Lord Mountbatten, the then newly appointed Viceroy, chose August 15, for handing over power to an independent India, as he wanted it to correspond with the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces. But he later told a journalist that he decided to quit earlier than 1948, the originally agreed upon date, as the situation in India was slipping from his hands.

» August 15 also marks the independence of three other nations – South Korea won its independence from Japan on the same day in 1945, Bahrain from the UK in 1971 and the Republic of the Congo from France in 1960.

» Independence Day celebrations are officially held at the Red Fort, Delhi, a tradition that has been followed since August 15, 1947. However, according to the records of the Lok Sabha secretariat Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister, unfurled the flag and spoke from the Red Fort on August 16, 1947.

» Nehru had the privilege of hoisting the national flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort – and addressing the nation – for a record 17 times.

» National flag was hoisted first on August 7, 1906 at the Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta. The flag was composed of horizontal strips of red, yellow and green. The red strip at the top had eight white lotuses embossed on it in a row. The green strip had a white sun on the left and a white crescent and star on the right.

» It is said that the first version of the current national flag was made by Pingali Venkayya at Bezwada in 1921. It was made up of two colours-red and green-representing the two major communities. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.

» When India became independent on August 15, 1947 there was no National Anthem. Even though the Bengali invocation of Jana Gana Mana was written in 1911, it was not considered as national anthem till 1950.

» Hindi is not India’s national language as many think or believe; it’s the official language. Article 343 of the Constitution states that Hindi in Devnagari script is the official language of India. But Hindi is the first official language of India and Hindi was declared the Official Language of the Union on September 14, 1949.

» The Sanskrit name for India is Bharat Ganarajya. That is the reason why it is also called Bharat. The name “India” comes from the Indus River, which is where earliest settlers made their homes. The Indus valley is one of the world’s earliest urban civilizations.