It has been six decades of independent India; 67 years since the country took its first proud steps as a free nation. Stories of independent India; the freedom struggle, our freedom fighters and leaders, our history; has been passed down from generation to generation. We have heard it all, learned it all....or have we?
Here are 10 lesser known and interesting facts about the nation, that some of those history lessons failed to cover:
1. Ever wondered why the date 15th August was chosen as the auspicious one? Going by the Indian belief in astrologers, one would like to think that there was something good about the stars that day. That would however be wrong. Lord Mountbatten, the newly appointed Viceroy chose the date 15th of August, to correspond with the 2nd anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces, as per the information provided by his press secretary Campbell-Johnson. Lord Mountbatten however later revealed to veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, that the situation in India was slipping from his hands, and hence he decided to quit as soon as possible. The British originally agreed to give India her independence in 1948.
2. 15th August also marks the independence of three other nations - South Korea won its independence from Japan on 15th August 1945, Bahrain from UK in 1971 and Republic of the Congo from France in 1960.
3. Every year, independence day celebrations are officially carried out at the Red Fort, Delhi - a tradition that is believed to be followed since August 15th 1947. However, a research paper published by the Lok Sabha secretariat stated that the Prime Minister, Nehru unfurled the Indian flag and spoke from the Red Fort on 16th August 1947, not 15th August 1947.
4. Records state that, in 1947, if Pakistan hadn’t sent in their tribesmen to attack and conquer Jammu and Kashmir, the state would have eventually gone to Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten has been quoted, saying, “By sending its irregular troops into the state, Pakistan spoiled the whole thing.”
5. Pakistan was never given its complete share of cash balances of undivided India. The Arbitration Tribunal had allotted Rs 75 crore to Pakistan, however they were paid only Rs 20 crore. The Kashmir war in 1947-48 prompted the sudden stop of cash transfer between the two nations.
6. The original preamble to the Indian Constitution described India as 'sovereign democratic republic.' During the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1976, the constitution was amended and the words 'socialist' and 'secular' were added to the preamble to the constitution.
7. The first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had the privilege of hoisting the national flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort 17 times and he addressed the nation on the national day as many times.
8. We see various adoptions of the Indian national flag today. However, very few are aware of the fact that khadi or hand-spun cloth is the only material allowed to be used for the flag, and flying a flag made of any other material is punishable by law with imprisonment up to three years, besides a fine.
9. The price of gold today is Rs 28,795 per 10 grams. In 1947, the price of 10 grams of gold was Rs 88.62.
10. The rupee rate today is 61.43/dollar. In 1947 Re 1 = $1