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Indian Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)

Quit India Movement

In August 1942, Gandhiji 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.

Meanwhile, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who stealthily ran away from the British detention in Calcutta, reached foreign lands and organized the Indian National Army (INA) to overthrow the British from India.

The Second World War broke out in September of 1939 and without consulting the Indian leaders, India was declared a warring state (on behalf of the British) by the Governor General. Subhash Chandra Bose, with the help of Japan, preceded fighting the British forces and not only freed Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the Britishers but also entered the north-eastern border of India. But in 1945 Japan was defeated and Netaji proceeded from Japan through an aeroplane to a place of safety but met with an accident and it was given out that he died in that air-crash itself.

"Give me blood and I shall give you freedom" - was one of the most popular statements made by him, where he urges the people of India to join him in his freedom movement.

Partition of India and Pakistan

At the conclusion of the Second World War, the Labour Party, under Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee, came to power in Britain. The Labour Party was largely sympathetic towards Indian people 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,

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 India.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team