India’s 75th Anniversary

Shefali O'Hara
5 min readAug 14, 2022

Happy birthday India! You’ve come a long way!

Photo by Onkarphoto on Unsplash

On August 15th, 1947, India declared its freedom after almost two centuries of British rule. Its Independence movement began during World War I and was led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

A bit of family history — my mother’s father was one of those who followed Gandhi. He was only 18 when he joined up, and in his 20s when he made the Salt March across India to the sea to harvest salt. He was jailed and had his knees injured by the British, who also ground pebbles into the flour they fed prisoners. I have a series of history books and my grandfather is listed as one of those who followed Gandhi. I have a framed photo from a newspaper article that shows my grandfather with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and other survivors of the Salt March.

After British rule ended at midnight on August 15, 1947, the country was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, many people died during this process and up to 20 million were displaced along religious lines. This created one of the largest refugee crises in history.

This was against the will of Gandhi, who called for unity between Muslims and Hindus. Today, Muslims make up over 96% of Pakistan’s population. They make up 14% of India’s population while almost 80% are Hindu.

The remaining 6% is divided between Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, with a small number of Jews, animists, and other sects. Bangladesh, which was originally East Pakistan, has about 89% Muslims and 10% Hindus.

In addition to Gandhi, other great freedom fighters were Sardar Patel, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Azad, Subhas Chandra Bose, and, of course, Jawaharlal Nehru, who became India’s first Prime Minister and raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi on August 15, 1947.

India’s national anthem, which was adopted in 1950, was composed in 1911 by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It’s current flag with its Ashok Chakra was designed by freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya in 1921.

The flag itself is only manufactured in one place in India and is made with only hand-spun and handwoven cotton, harkening to Gandhi’s admonition that Indians only buy and wear hand-spun cloth.

Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.