“Bombs and pistols do not make a revolution. The sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting-stone of ideas” – Bhagat Singh
Arrival of Europeans and Britishers in India
With the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498 AD in India, it started an era of European traders coming to India in search of lucrative spice trade. The Dutch and English established trading outposts on the Indian subcontinent, with the first English trading post set up at Surat in 1617. European traders had established outposts on the Indian subcontinent by the 17th century. Over the course of the 17th and early 19th centuries, the British defeated the Portuguese and Dutch militarily. After that the East India Company under the Robert Clive defeated Siraj-ud-Daula in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and soon after that gained administrative rights over the regions of Bengal, Bihar and Midnapur part of Orissa. This was followed by Battle of Buxar in 1764. The East India Company subsequently gained control of regions ruled by the Maratha Empire, after defeating them in a series of wars. Through overwhelming military strength, the British East India Company subdued local kingdoms and established themselves as the dominant force by the 18th century.
1857 Sepoy Mutiny – First War of Indian Independence
The year 1857 is a benchmark in the history of Indian independence. The Sepoy mutiny of 1857 started by Indian soldiers in the British army at Barrackpore was the first attempt to overthrow British Empire from India. The mutiny which continued till December 1858 was finally suppressed by the British. Following the Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led the British Crown to assume direct control of India. In 1877, Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India. The next few decades saw various big and small wars being fought against the Empire. Prominent among these were the Battle of Kanpur led by Nana Sahib of Bithur, the Battle of Jhansi by Rani Laxmibai and Tantia Tope, the fight at Arrah in Bihar by the landlord of Jagdishpur Kunwar Singh and the war at Lucknow led by Hazrat Begum. These wars took place in isolated areas of the country and hence, met with little success. But these battles were indicative of the discontent of the Indians against their European rulers and served to keep the torch of the Indian freedom struggle burning.
Discontent in the 19th and 20th Century
By the 20th century, the dissatisfaction with the British government had begun to take a concrete shape. The beginning of the 1900s saw the springing up of a number of revolutionary groups in several parts of the India such as Bengal, Punjab, Gujarat, Assam and the southern states of India. In the year 1885 Indian National Congress was founded by A.O. Hume. Other Political groups were also formed to counter the Britishers in a peaceful way and voice the dissent of millions of Indians. Iconic leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and others tried to attain liberty through peaceful means while personalities like Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghose, Bipin Chandra Pal and others strived to snatch freedom forcefully from the uncompromising British Empire. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous “Salt March” in 1930 and the “Quit India Movement” in 1942 saw a wave of public support. Subhash Chandra Bose, who idealisms were extremist, got drifted from Congress and formed a new party named the All India Forward Block Party and launched his own army named Indian National Army (INA). And by this military might he tried to attain freedom from the clutches of the British Empire. The decades of 1930’s and 1940’s saw a increase in extremist activities. Non-violent protests as well as extremist activities were being carried out on the daily basis.
Reason of partition of United India into India and Pakistan
After the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885, when the British made an attempt to divide the state of Bengal along religious lines in 1905, the INC lead huge protests against the plan. This sparked the formation of the Muslim League, which sought to guarantee the rights of Muslims in any future independence negotiations. Originally formed as an opposition to the INC, the Muslim league had generally agreed with the INC in their mutual motive of expelling the British from the country. The British, however, had always attempted to pit the INC and the Muslim League against each other. World War II sparked a crisis in relations among the British, the INC and the Muslim League. The British expected India to provide much-needed soldiers and materiel for the war effort, but the INC opposed sending Indians to fight and die in Britain’s war. After the betrayal following World War I, the INC saw no benefit for India in such a sacrifice. The Muslim League, however, decided to back Britain’s call for volunteers, in an effort to curry British favor in support of a Muslim nation in post-independence northern India. After World War II Winston Churchill’s party was voted out of office, and the pro-independence Labour Party was voted in during 1945. Labour Party called for almost immediate independence for India, as well as more gradual freedom for Britain’s other colonial holdings. It was then that the Muslim League’s leader, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, began a public campaign in favor of a separate Muslim state, while Jawaharlal Nehru of the INC called for a unified India. In February of 1947, the British government announced that India would be granted independence by June 1948. Viceroy for India Lord Mountbatten pleaded with the Hindu and Muslim leadership to agree to form a united country, but they could not. With the country descending further into chaos, Mountbatten reluctantly agreed to the formation of two separate states, and moved the independence date up to August 15, 1947.
Independence of India
On 3rd June 1947, the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten announced that the British will leave the Indian subcontinent. Finally India attained Independence on the midnight of August 15th 1947, after a great political and social struggle. The history behind Indian independence is very painful and is full of sacrifices. And only because of those sacrifices India freed herself from the shackles of British Empire. It was an endless struggle of millions faceless Indians. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom, and further to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.