India and 65 years of its freedom

Today, India enters into 65th year of its freedom. When it got independence from British rule after around two centuries, Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his famous speech-

“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 supressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”

His full speech can be viewed at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1947nehru1.html

When it got independence, the whole world was skeptical about its existence with complex issues and challenged ahead. But, India has come long way and overcome every hurdle. It is one of the most developing nations today and the biggest democracy in the world. Today, world respects India and look up to it as a great example.

But, the road was never easier for India. India got the independence upon the shadow of partition. There was high level of distrust among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs which resulted in the separate nation for the economic welfare of Muslims. Talks and negotiations to avert it failed and two new nations were born. The result was the mass exodus of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims from both the sides. The most severely affected areas were Punjab and Bengal which were not directly given to the either side but were divided along the lines of religious majority. But, no one knew that where the lines will be drawn and where would the main cities-Lahore and Calcutta would fall. So, the result was chaos from both sides and communal violence erupted which killed around one million people from both sides. History witnessed its biggest transfer of people towards both sides. Punjabis, Bengalis and Sindhis suffered the most.

Another challenge was the integration of princely states into countries. India was quickly able to persuade 562 out of 565 states to integrate within its domain with the great help of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, its first Home Minister. His skills and ability to convince other states was magnificent. The remaining three- Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir did not want to join India.

State of Junagath had a Hindu majority state but Muslim ruler who wanted to join Pakistan. Geographically and along the lines of partition, his demands were considered unacceptable and the plebiscite was held where more than 95% of the population was in favor of joining India.

State of Kashmir faced similar issue. Its ruler was Hindu-Maharaja Harisingh and the majority of the population was Muslim. He wanted to remain independent.

According to Burton Stein‘s History of India, “Kashmir was neither as large nor as old an independent state as Hyderabad; it had been created rather off-handedly by the British after the first defeat of the Sikhs in 1846, as a reward to a former official who had sided with the British. The Himalayan kingdom was connected to India through a district of the Punjab, but its population was 77 per cent Muslim and it shared a boundary with Pakistan. Hence, it was anticipated that the maharaja would accede to Pakistan when the British paramountcy ended on 14–15 August. When he hesitated to do this, Pakistan launched a guerrilla onslaught meant to frighten its ruler into submission. Instead the Maharaja appealed to Mountbattenfor assistance, and the governor-general agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Indian soldiers entered Kashmir and drove the Pakistani-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of the state. The United Nations was then invited to mediate the quarrel. The UN mission insisted that the opinion of Kashmiris must be ascertained, while India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of irregulars.”

Hence, Kashmir’s issue became very complex and remained the core issue which hampered the relations of India and Pakistan till date. Pakistan claims that no referendum was signed and it was necessary to hold the plebiscite but it was never realized due to its complex situation. Currently, the regions of Kashmir valley, Ladakh and Jammu are administered by India. Pakistan administers Northern areas including Gilgit-Baltistan. Chinese controls Aksai Chin region and trans Karakoram Tract.

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