European traders had been settling in India since the 17th Century. In the 18th Century the East India Company, a British company trading items like silk, cotton, tea and salt, won many areas of India and soon claimed it as its own.
After World War II, it became apparent that Britain could no longer hold its power in India. Originally, the handover to independence was to be in June 1948, but violent activities between religions caused up to 1-million deaths. Lord Mountbatten, the British Governor General of India, was forced to bring the date forward to 1947.
British India became two dominions: on 14 August 1947, Pakistan became a country, and 15 August 1947, India became a country and held its first Independence Day celebration in 1948.
Today on the day before the celebration the Prime Minister addresses the nation. Then, on the 15th in Delhi, he hoists the Indian flag on the ramparts of Red Fort. During the ceremony, a 21-gun salute is fired, speeches are made and the Indian national anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana’, is sung. It is a special day where tributes are made to those who gave their lives to fight for freedom from the British.
In the weeks leading up to 15 August, and especially on the day, the national flag in raised on every flag pole on schools, offices, buildings and town centres. Children and adults everywhere carry or wear the flag of India and every cast, creed and religion across our country celebrates Independence Day on this national holiday. In India, the day of 15 August is a proudly patriotic day of celebrations, kite flying, feasts, parades and festivities.