Indian Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)

    • Mahatma Gandhi

    •  Involvement of Mahatma Gandhi ( original name Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Gandhiji or Mahatma Gandhi) was the biggest turnaround in the Indian freedom struggle. When the Indian masses were getting scattered in small different groups with no single leadership, Gandhiji came to India from South Africa and emerged as the guiding star for Indian independence movement. He brought with him the widely popular policies of non-violence (Ahimsa), simple living, high thinking, unity to be few. Indian masses trusted and followed Gandhi Ji like never before and all the nation seemed to be standing behind him. This unity and mass involvement was a big factor in the success of the struggle this time.
    • The Non-Cooperation movement

      Following Jallianwala Bagh Massacre , Gandhi Ji declared that there was no point in cooperating with British government and administration. The Non-Cooperation movement, launched in 1920,  reached the common masses and was a very big success sending a strong message to the British authorities.

Simon Commission

After non-cooperation movement, the British sent Simon Commission to India in 1927 to suggest further reforms in the Indian Government and administration. Ironically, the commission had no Indian member and paid no attention to the demands of  Independence or Swaraj . There were mass protests against the commission with slogans of ‘Go Back Simon’ under leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai(also known as ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ or the ‘Lion of Punjab’  . British tried to suppress these protests brutally using forces and arms. During one of the agitations , Lala Lajpat Rai received serious injuries on his head as a result of the Lathi(Bamboo logs used by forces that time) Charge ordered by British authorities. Lalaji died later to these injuries but his sacrifice was not wasted. Extremists and non-Extremists were united to remove British rule from India.

  • Civil Disobedience Movement :      Mahatma Gandhi led the Civil Disobedience Movement that was launched by Congress in the Session of December 1929. The aim of this movement  complete disobedience of the orders of the British Government. It was decided that India would celebrate 26th January as Independence Day all over the country. On 26th January 1930, the Congress tricolour was hoisted all over the country. The British Government tried to repress the movement and resorted to brutal firing, killing hundreds of people. Thousands were arrested along with Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru. But the movement spread to all the four corners of the country Following this, Round Table Conferences were arranged by the British and Gandhiji attended the second Round Table Conference at London. But nothing came out of the conference and the Civil Disobedience Movement was revived.
  • During this time, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were arrested on the charges of throwing a bomb in the Central Assembly Hall (which is now Lok Sabha) in Delhi, to demonstrate against the autocratic alien rule. They were hanged to death on March 23, 1931.

Quit India Movement

August 1942, Gandhi Ji started the ‘Quit India Movement’ and decided to launch a mass civil disobedience movement ‘Do or Die‘ call to force the British to leave India. The movement was followed, nonetheless, by large-scale violence directed at railway stations, telegraph offices, government buildings, and other emblems and institutions of colonial rule. There were widespread acts of sabotage, and the government held Gandhi responsible for these acts of violence, suggesting that they were a deliberate act of Congress policy. However, all the prominent leaders were arrested, the Congress was banned and the police and army were brought out to suppress the movement. Following all this Gandhi Ji was very disappointed with the violence and he called it off.

Indian National Army (INA)

 Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who escaped from British detention in Calcutta, reached Japan and formed Indian National Army to overthrow the British rule from India. During second world war, he managed to free up Andaman and Nicobar and entered north-eastern border of India. He raised slogan “Tum Mujhe Khoon do, main tumhe azadi doonga” meaning “Give me blood and I shall give you freedom” and ‘Jai Hind‘.

The Indian Independence

At the conclusion of the Second World War, the Labour Party, under Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee, came to power in Britain. The Party was largely sympathetic towards Indian people and advocated for freedom. A Cabinet Mission was sent to India in March 1946, which after a careful study of the Indian political scenario, proposed the formation of an interim Government and convening of a Constituent Assembly comprising members elected by the provincial legislatures and nominees of the Indian states. An interim Government was formed headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. However, the Muslim League refused to participate in the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly and pressed for the separate state for Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India, presented a plan for the division of India into India and Pakistan, and the Indian leaders had no choice but to accept the division, as the Muslim League was adamant.

Thus, India became free at the stroke of midnight, on August 14, 1947. (Since then, every year India celebrates its Independence Day on 15th August). Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minster of free India and continued his term till 1964. Giving voice to the sentiments of the nation, Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said in his first speech (which is now a tradition),

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment 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, long suppressed, finds utterance…. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.

Earlier, a Constituent Assembly was formed in July 1946, to frame the Constitution of India and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. The Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949. On January 26, 1950, the Constitution was came into force and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected the first President of  Independent India.


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Suggested Reading: Indian History| Indian Geography | Indian Culture

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