A Puffin book traces India’s journey, through its social and political milestones in last 70 years.
1947: A RAINBOW IN THE SKY
It was midnight on 14 August 1947. At one minute past, as the 15th dawned, India became free. In front of numerous guests in the assembly hall of the Council House, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of free India, gave a speech celebrating
India’s independence. ‘[As] the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,’ he began. Conches were blown, shouts of ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki jai!’ were heard and everyone rejoiced. While it rained outside, thousands danced in the lit and decorated streets of Delhi.
The next day too, there were people all over the roads, cheering and dancing. There was another ceremony in the Council House, to inaugurate the new government, and in the evening, all moved towards India Gate. There were huge crowds, at least half a million people. Our national flag, the tricolour, was raised. It was the rainy season, and a rainbow appeared in the sky like a blessing.
And the day after that, the 16th, there was a ceremony at the Red Fort. Even more people had gathered there, probably a million. Jawaharlal Nehru spoke, beginning with the words ‘Jai Hind!’, and all roared in response, repeating those words with joy. Bismillah Khan,
the great musician, played on his shehnai.
And a new era began.
But there was still a lot to be done. The integration of the states had to be completed and the Constitution had to be finalised. There were many problems in the new India, but Independence also brought hope, excitement, a sense of strength and pride, and a desire for innovation and change.
2017: INDIA AT SEVENTY
Elections were held in February-March 2017 in five states, with the results being announced on 11 March. Though these were state elections, they were, to some extent, considered to be a referendum on the BJP government at the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at midterm.
In the largest and most important state, Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won a massive victory with 312 out of the 403 seats in the legislative assembly. Yogi Adityanath was appointed chief minister.
The Samajwadi Party — Indian National Congress alliance came a poor second with just 54 seats. In Uttarakhand too, the BJP was victorious with 57 out of the 70 seats. However, in Punjab, the Congress formed the government with Amarinder Singh as chief minister, winning 77 out of the 117 seats.
In Manipur, the Congress won 28 out of the 60 seats and the BJP, 21. Despite this, the latter formed the government with the support of other parties. The defeat of Irom Sharmila, who polled only ninety votes, was another significant aspect of the Manipur elections.
The results in Goa were similar to Manipur’s. The Congress won 17 seats and the BJP, 11, but the latter gained the support of other parties to form the government.