Monday, January 26, 2009

Trivia on Indian Independence!

(Though I originally collected these snippets for an 'Independence day' special article of my office based newsletter, I felt posting it to my blog on a Republic day wouldn't be less appropriate...)
The Sepoy Mutiny (1857) became the first Nationwide struggle for Independence. What many don't know is the fact that, India came under the direct control of the British Crown as a colony of the British Empire as a result of the Sepoy mutiny.

Struggle for Independence resurfaced again in the form of Indian National Congress. What many don't know is the fact that a retired British civil servant, A.O.Hume is the brain behind forming the Indian National congress in 1885.

The partition of Bengal in 1905 sparked agitations in the Northern part of India. What many don't know is the fact that the partition created two provinces: Eastern Bengal & Assam, with its capital at Dhaka, and West Bengal, with its capital at Calcutta.

Calcutta served as British India capital until 1911. Later in 1931 New Delhi was made the capital of India. What many don't know is the fact that prior to New Delhi, Delhi (old) was the capital of India between (1911 through 1931). New Delhi is a town south of Old Delhi planned by a team of British architects led by Edwin Lutyens.

What many don't know is India's contribution to the British war effort during the world war I, by providing men and resources. About 1.3 million Indian soldiers and laborers served in Europe, Africa and Middle East.

Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian/Asian to be honored with a Nobel prize. What many don't know is the fact that he renounced the title as a mark of rebuke to the rulers, post the Jallianwala bagh Massacre in 1919.

Mahatma Gandhi emerged as the leader of the Indian Independence struggle. He Formulated the civil disobedience movement and the Salt Satyagraha. What many don't know is the fact that Gandhiji was imprisoned to six years Jail, but had to serve only two.

While peacefully protesting against Simon commission, Lala Lajpatrai was hit with a lathi (bamboo stick) on the head several times by an officer Scott. He succumbed to the injuries. Bhagat singh vowed to take revenge and with the help of Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajguru and Sukhadev, plotted to kill Scott. What many don't know is the fact that Bhagat singh killed Mr. Sanders, a junior officer, in a case of mistaken identity. As a result, the British - under the Defense of India Act, gave more power to the police to arrest persons to stop processions with suspicious movements and actions. What many don't know is the fact that the act brought in the council was defeated by one vote. Even then it was to be passed in the form of an ordinance in the "interest of the public." Bhagat Singh threw a bomb in the corridors of the central assembly where the act was to be passed and courted arrest after shouting the slogan "Inquilab Zindabad!" (Long Live, Revolution!). Bhagat Singh thought the court would be an ideal place to get publicity for the cause of freedom, and did not disown the crime.

Gandhiji marched about 400 Kilometers from his commune in Ahmedabad to Dandi between March 12 and April 6, 1930 in protesting against British taxes on salt, he and thousands of followers broke the law by making their own salt from sea water.

In 1939, the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared India's entrance into World War II without consulting provincial governments. In protest, the Congress asked all of its elected representatives to resign from the government.

Gandhi launched the Quit India movement in August 1942. However, almost the entire Congress leadership was arrested within a span of 24 hours after Gandhi's speech. What many don't know is the fact that the call “to do or die” was issued in a meeting ground at our very own Mumbai. Previously referred to as the Gowalia Tank Maidan, the ground is now renamed as “August Kranti Maidan” for its significance.

Mani Bhavan, where Gandhi stayed whenever he was in Mumbai, is organising various functions on August 9 to make the younger generation realise the importance of the occasion. Besides, it will screen Richard Attenborough's Gandhi.

An interim government for India was formed in September 1946 with Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister. Jinnah declared August 16, 1946 as Direct Action Day, which brought communal rioting in many places in the north. Partition seemed preferable to civil war. Thus, Louis Mountbatten announced plans for partition of the British Indian Empire into secular but Hindu-majority India and Islamic Pakistan.

Gandhi was not known to be too happy about the substitution of the Gandhi Charkha (Khadi Wheel) by Ashoka Chakra(Wheel) in the Indian National flag. Jawaharlal Nehru later convinced him. In fact when the Indian national flag was first designed by Pingali Venkayya, Gandhi first approved it, then thought about it and asked Venkayya to redesign the flag by adding a white band in the middle (the flag already had the Saffron and Green bands).

What many don't know is the fact that Gandhi pressured Sardar Patel to give Rupees 55 Crores of Sterling balance to Pakistan after Partition.

Prime Minister Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel invited Lord Mountbatten to continue as Governor General of India. He was replaced in June 1948 by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. What many don't know is the fact that he was the only Indian Governor General of India. The office was replaced by that of President, first held by Rajendra Prasad after the announcement of the Republic.

What many don't know is the fact that the constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any independent nation in the world, containing 444 articles and 10 schedules (later 12), as well as numerous amendments. It runs to a total of 117,369 words in the English language version.

Goa (liberated from Portuguese control in 1961) and Pondicherry (which the French ceded in 1954). In 1952, India held its first general elections, with a voter turnout exceeding 62%; in practice, this made India the world’s largest democracy.

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