Independence Day is annually celebrated on 15th August, as a national holiday in India commemorating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom on 15th August 1947. The UK Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 transferring legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly. India still retained King George VI as head of state until its transition to a full republican constitution. India attained independence from oppressive British rule of more than 200 years following the Independence Movement led by eminent freedom fighters and martyrs such Rani Laxmi Bai, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and several others, which was later followed by a largely non-violent resistance and civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress (INC).
Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan. The partition was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to religious violence. On 15th August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. On each subsequent Independence Day, the Prime Minister customarily raises the flag and gives an address to the nation.
The following speech was delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru declaring India’s Independence on 15th August, 1947:
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall 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. 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.”
The national holiday is observed throughout India with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events.