Before 1930, few Indian political parties had openly embraced the goal of political independence from the United Kingdom. The All India Home Rule League had been advocating Home Rule for India: dominion status within the British Empire, as granted to Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa. The All India Muslim League favored dominion status as well, and opposed calls for outright Indian independence. The Indian Liberal Party, by far the most pro-British, explicitly opposed India's independence and even dominion status if it weakened India's links with the British Empire. The Indian National Congress, the largest Indian political party of the time, was at the head of the national debate. Veteran Congress leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo and Bipin Chandra Pal had advocated explicit Indian independence from the Empire.
Following the 1919 Amritsar Massacre, there was considerable public outrage against British rule. Europeans, civilians and officials, were targets and victims of violence across India. In 1920, Gandhi and the Congress committed themselves to Swaraj, described as political and spiritual independence. At the time, Gandhi described this as the basic demand of all Indians; he specifically said that the question of whether India would remain within the Empire or leave it completely, would be answered by the behavior and response of the British. Between 1920 and 1922, Mohandas Gandhi led the Non-Cooperation movement: nationwide civil disobedience to oppose the Rowlatt Acts and the exclusion of Indians from the government of their own country and affairs, and the denial of political and civil freedoms.
Dominion or republic?
Nehru Report was also controversial within the Congress. Younger nationalist leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru (Motilal Nehru's son) demanded that the Congress resolve to make a complete and explicit break from all ties with the British Empire. Jawaharlal Nehru had introduced a resolution demanding "complete national independence" in 1927, which was rejected because of Gandhi's opposition. Now Bose and Nehru opposed dominion status, which would retain the Monarch of the United Kingdom as the constitutional head of state of India (although in the separate capacity as King of India), and preserve political powers for the British Parliament in Indian constitutional affairs. They were supported in their stand by a large number of rank-and-file Congressmen.
In December 1928, Congress held in Calcutta, Mohandas Gandhi proposed a resolution that called for the British to grant dominion status to India within two years. If the British failed to meet the deadline, the Congress would call upon all Indians to fight for complete independence. Bose and Nehru objected to the time given to the British - they pressed Gandhi to demand immediate action from the British. Gandhi brokered a further compromise by reducing the time given from two years to one. Jawaharlal Nehru voted for the new resolution, while Subhash Bose told his supporters that he would not oppose the resolution, and abstained from voting himself. The All India Congress Committee voted 118 to 45 in its favor (the 45 votes came from supporters of a complete break from the British). However, when Bose introduced an amendment during the open session of Congress that sought a complete break with the British, Gandhi admonished the move:
"You may take the name of independence on your lips but all your muttering will be an empty formula if there is no honour behind it. If you are not prepared to stand by your words, where will independence be?"
The amendment was rejected, by 1350 to 973, and the resolution was fully adopted. On October 31, 1929, the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin announced that the government would meet with Indian representatives in London for a Round Table Conference. To facilitate Indian participation, Irwin met with Mohandas Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and out-going Congress President Motilal Nehru to discuss the meeting. Gandhi asked Irwin if the conference would proceed on the basis of dominion status and Irwin said he could not assure that, resulting in the end of the meeting.
As a result of the denial of reforms and political rights, and the persistent ignorance of Indian political parties, the Indian National Congress grew increasingly cohesive - unified in the desire to oust the British from India completely. A very large number of Congress volunteers and delegates, members of other political parties and an especially large public gathering attended the session convened in Lahore. Despite the bitterly cold weather, Pattabhi Sitaramayya records that:
"The heat of passion and excitement, the resentment at the failure of negotiation, the flushing of faces on hearing the war drums - oh, it was all in marked contrast to the weather."
Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President and veteran leaders like Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel returned to the Congress Working Committee. Gandhi drafted the Indian declaration of independence, which stated:
"The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually....Therefore...India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence."
At midnight on New Year's Eve, President Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the tricolour flag of India upon the banks of the Ravi in Lahore. A pledge of independence was read out, which included a readiness to withhold taxes. The massive gathering of public attending the ceremony were asked if they agreed with it, and the vast majority of people were witnessed to raise their hands in approval. 172 Indian members of central and provincial legislatures resigned in support of the resolution and in accordance with Indian public sentiment.
The Declaration of Independence was officially promulgated on January 26, 1930. Gandhi and other Indian leaders would immediately begin the planning of a massive national revolt that would encourage the common people to participate and also help involve revolutionaries into a struggle committed to non-violence. The Salt Satyagraha was initiated by Mohandas Gandhi and the Congress as the first struggle for complete independence.
Though India gained his Republic on 26th January 1950, but the date was already decided 21 years back, pre independence. The date 26 January was chosen to commemorate the declaration of independence in 1930.
In the all-party conference held at Bombay in May 1928, It was concluded to instill a sense of resistance among people. The conference appointed a drafting committee under Motilal Nehru to draw up a constitution for India. The Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress asked the British government to accord dominion status to India by December 1929, or a countrywide civil disobedience movement would be launched. By 1929, however, in the midst of rising political discontent and increasingly violent regional movements, the call for complete independence from Britain began to find increasing grounds within the Congress leadership. Under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru at its historic Lahore session in December 1929, The Indian National Congress adopted a resolution calling for complete independence from the British. It authorised the Working Committee to launch a civil disobedience movement throughout the country. It was decided that 26 January 1930 should be observed all over India as the Purna Swaraj (total independence) Day. Many Indian political parties and Indian revolutionaries of a wide spectrum united to observe the day with honour and pride.
British India consisted of 17 provinces and 562 princely states. The provinces were given to India or Pakistan, in some cases in particular Punjab and Bengal after being partitioned. The princes of the princely states, however, won the right to either remain independent or join either nation. Thus India's leaders faced the prospect of inheriting a nation fragmented between medieval-era kingdoms and provinces organized by colonial powers. Under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the new Government of India employed political negotiations backed with the option (and, on several occasions, the use) of military action to ensure the primacy of the Central government and of the Constitution then being drafted.
There were three States that proved more difficult to integrate than others:
Junagadh: A December 1947 plebiscite resulted in a 99% vote to merge with India, annulling the controversial accession to Pakistan, which was made despite the people of the state being overwhelmingly Hindu.
Hyderabad: Patel ordered the Indian army to depose the government of the Nizam after the failure of negotiations, which was done between 13–17 September 1948. It was incorporated as a state of India the next year.
Kashmir: The area of Kashmir in the far north of the subcontinent quickly became a source of controversy that erupted into the First Indo-Pakistani War which lasted from 1947 to 1949. Eventually a United Nations-overseen ceasefire was agreed that left India in control of two thirds of the contested region.The Controversy arose because Jawaharlal Nehru had agreed to give a plebiscite to the State. But due to Pakistan's forced attempt to integrate Kashmir, it was helped and integrated by India, the plebiscite never being held. The Indian Constitution came into force in Kashmir on 26 January 1957 with special clauses for the state.
The history of the Republic of India began on 15 August 1947 when the country became an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth. Concurrently the Muslim-majority northwest and east of British India was separated into the Dominion of Pakistan, by the partition of India. Lord Louis Mountbatten, and later Chakravarti Rajagopalachari served in the office of the Governor General of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister of India and its Minister of Home Affairs.
Aftermath of partition
An estimated 3.5 million Hindus and Sikhs living in West Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, East Bengal and Sind migrated to India in fear of domination and suppression in Muslim Pakistan. Communal violence killed an estimated one million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, and gravely destabilized both Dominions along their Punjab and Bengal boundaries, and the cities of Calcutta, Delhi and Lahore. The violence was stopped by early September owing to the cooperative efforts of both Indian and Pakistani leaders, and especially due the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian freedom struggle, who undertook a fast-unto-death in Calcutta and later in Delhi to calm people and emphasize peace despite the threat to his life. Both Governments constructed large relief camps for incoming and leaving refugees, and the Indian Army was mobilized to provide humanitarian assistance on a massive scale. The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 was carried out by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who was affiliated with the Hindu nationalist movement, which held him responsible for partition and charged that Gandhi was appeasing Muslims. More than one million people flooded the streets of Delhi to follow the procession to cremation grounds and pay their last respects ot a man called Mahatma - The father of the Nation India.
In 1949, India recorded close to 1 million Hindu refugees flooded into West Bengal and other states from East Pakistan, owing to communal violence, intimidation and repression from Muslim authorities. The plight of the refugees outraged Hindus and Indian nationalists, and the refugee population drained the resources of Indian states, who were unable to absorb them. While not ruling out war, Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel invited Liaquat Ali Khan for talks in Delhi. Although many Indians termed this appeasement, Nehru signed a pact with Liaquat Ali Khan that pledged both nations to the protection of minorities and creation of minority commissions. Although opposed to the principle, Patel decided to back this Pact for the sake of peace, and played a critical role in garnering support from West Bengal and across India, and enforcing the provisions of the Pact. Khan and Nehru also signed a trade agreement, and committed to resolving bilateral disputes through peaceful means. Steadily, hundreds of thousands of Hindus returned to East Pakistan, but the thaw in relations did not last long, primarily owing to the Kashmir dispute.
Constitution of India
Passed by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, it came into effect on 26 January 1950. The date 26 January was chosen to commemorate the declaration of independence of 1930.
Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties, of the government and spells out the fundamental rights, directive principles and duties of citizens. It declares the Union of India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty and to promote among them all fraternity; the words "socialist", "secular" and "integrity" and to promote among them all "Fraternity"; were added to the definition in 1976 by constitutional amendment. India celebrates the adoption of the constitution on 26 January each year as Republic Day. It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, containing 440 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 107 amendments(some amendments still under consideration like Women's Bill - 108 Amendment), for a total of 117,369 words in the English language version. Besides the English version, there is an official Hindi translation. After coming into effect, the Constitution replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India. Being the supreme law of the country, every law enacted by the government must conform to the constitution. B. R. Ambedkar , as chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution.
The Constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by the elected members of the provincial assemblies. Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Nalini Ranjan Ghosh were some important figures in the Assembly. There were more than 30 members of the scheduled classes. Frank Anthony represented the Anglo-Indian community, and the Parsis were represented by H. P. Modi and R. K. Sidhwa. The Chairman of the Minorities Committee was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a distinguished Christian who represented all Christians other than Anglo-Indians. Ari Bahadur Gururng represented the Gorkha Community. Prominent jurists like Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, B. R. Ambedkar, Benegal Narsing Rau and K. M. Munshi, Ganesh Mavlankar were also members of the Assembly. Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur were important women members. The first president of the Constituent Assembly was Sachidanand Sinha later, Rajendra Prasad was elected president of the Constituent Assembly. The members of the Constituent Assembly met for the first time in the year 1946 on 9 December.
In the 14 August 1947 meeting of the Assembly, a proposal for forming various committees was presented. Such committees included a Committee on Fundamental Rights, the Union Powers Committee and Union Constitution Committee. On 29 August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed, with Dr Ambedkar as the Chairman along with six other members. A Draft Constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on 4 November 1947.
The Assembly met, in sessions open to the public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on 24 January 1950. Two days later, the Constitution of India became the law of all the Indian lands.
The Constitution of India has till now has undergone 107 amendments(some amendments still under consideration like Women's Bill - 108 Amendment) in less than 60 years since its enactment.
Preamble to the Constitution of India
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN
SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY
ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.