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India got Independent, from 200 years of British Rule, on August 15, 1947. During the time of independence, the country was divided into two parts – India and Pakistan but the border wasn’t divided until August 15. But some patriotic Indians celebrated the first Independence Day, before 17 years, on January 26, 1930. 

The day was selected after Congress President Jawahar Lal Nehru declared “Poorna Swaraj (total independence)” from British Rule in the year 1929. Indian National Congress celebrated Independence Day from January 26, 1930, onwards. The day was re-selected in 1950, when January 26 was selected as Republic Day – the day when India became a sovereign country and was no longer British Dominion. 

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How did the date shift from January 26 to August 15? 

Lord Mountbatten ordered a mandate by the British Government to share the powers till June 30, 1948. But according to C Rajagopalachari’s memorial words, if he has waited till June 1948, no power would be shifted therefore, Mountbatten brought the date forward and selected August 1947. At that time, Lord Mountbatten said that he has advanced the date to reduce bloodshed and riots. Later, he was proved wrong and he changed his statement and justified it by saying “wherever colonial rule has ended, there has been bloodshed. That is the price you pay.”

The Indian Independence Day was introduced in the Assembly Houses on July 4, 1947, and was passed within a fortnight. According to the bill, the British rule ended on August 15, 1947, and India and Pakistan were established as independent nations. 

Mountbatten later claimed, as quoted in Freedom at midnight, that “The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was a master of the whole event. When they asked had set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September and I then went out to the 15th August. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.” 

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What is Japan’s surrender? 

Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on a radio program on August 15, 1945. Japan surrendered during WWII after Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacked by nuclear bombs. 

Why Pakistan celebrates Independence Day a day before India?

Both countries were declared independent on August 15, 1947, and the first stamp issued by Pakistan was also on August 15. But in 1948, Pakistan shifted its Independence Day to August 14, either because the ceremony held in Karachi was organized on August 14, 1947, or August 14, 1947, was the 27th of Ramadan, a very sacred date to the Muslims.

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