1947: August 15, the events

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An hourly account

Authored by: TOI Newscard Team - Shuja Asrar, Areeba Falak, Ritvvij Parrikh, August 16, 2021: The Times of India

One hour before Independence

The session began with the singing of Vande Mataram, followed by an address from the President and 2-minute silence for those who died during India's freedom struggle. The session ended with a presentation of the national flag to the people of India.

At the stroke of the midnight hour

On the intervening night of August 14-15, 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, addressed the constituent assembly. His Tryst with Destiny speech is considered to be one of the greatest of the 20th century.

A day that was ‘remarkable'

Mountbatten wrote in a letter to the British government, “15th August has certainly turned out to be the most remarkable and inspiring day of my life. We started at 0830 am with the swearing-In ceremony in the Durbar Hall in front of an official audience of some 500, including a number of ruling Princes. The official guests, including Ambassadors, Princes and the Cabinet, then drove in procession from Government House (ex-Viceroy's House) to the Council Chamber.”

Nehru's cabinet was diverse

The 14-member strong new cabinet included Ambedkar, scheduled caste leader and a political opponent of the Congress, Dr SP Mukherjee, leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, S Chetty, once considered a renegade by the Congress, members from Muslim, Sikh, Christian community, and women.

Euphoric Delhi welcomes new era

The entire city kept awake to witness the historic moment. Streets swelled with people. Nearly 400 men from the Royal Indian Navy, Royal Indian Air Force and Army along with the police were required to keep people at bay. According to an account by Mountbatten, Nehru had to go on the roof to urge the crowd to go back.

Tricolour hoisted over Red Fort

At 6pm, the tricolour was hoisted over Red Fort. Mountbatten mentions in his report that as the flag was unfurled, a brilliant rainbow appeared in the background. A parade of all three armed forces was held at Rajpath. Raised platform seats were provided on either side of Rajpath for people to witness the parade. According to estimates, over 600,000 people attended the event.

Celebrations in Bombay

Bombay witnessed frenzied celebrations. Long processions of vehicles, people thronging the streets and raising slogans, traffic jams throughout the night – these were some of the scenes that evening.

Stock market on the up

Buoyed by the firm trend in government securities and favourable reports regarding sterling balances, the stock exchange moved up.

But as the country celebrated, Gandhi fasted

In observance of Independence Day, Gandhi undertook a 24-hour fast. He was joined by HS Suhrawardy, the retiring premier of Bengal, and SM Osman, ex-mayor of Calcutta. Gandhi spent the whole day spinning the charkha and holding special prayers.

Tricolour flies in world capitals

The tricolour was unfurled across the capital cities of various countries — London, Bangkok, Nanking and Paris.

British PM Attlee wishes India

"It is my earnest wish that India may go forward in tranquility and prosperity and in so doing contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world," he wrote.

UK releases £35m for India

After a review of the situation in the UK and the probable requirement of India, it was agreed that a sum of £35 million should be available from India's existing balances for expenditure in any currency area up to December 31. In addition, a working balance of £30 million would be at the disposal of the RBI.

Princely states join India

All but three of the 565 princely states signed the Instrument of Accession and standstill agreements with the forthcoming Indian Union by August 14, 1948. The three states which hadn't signed the Instrument of Accession till then were Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir.

Experts believed that defence pact between India & Pakistan was inevitable

A report published in The Times of India said that the strategic requirement of the sub-continent would make the armed forces of both the nations interdependent. While Pakistan would be at a greater disadvantage in facing an invasion as its border lay exposed to external threats. India would have the buffer of the two parts of Pakistan on either side.

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