Independence Day 2020: History, significance as India celebrates its 74th year of freedom

Updated: 15 August, 2020 09:00 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast its shadow over the Independence Day celebrations across the country

Today India celebrates its 74th Independence Day. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast its shadow over the celebrations across the country. Keeping in mind the required precautions, this year many crucial changes have also been made at the venue at Red Fort in Delhi for the event.

The day that is otherwise celebrated with cultural programmes and social gatherings, will be marked with limited events this year. Government offices have been directed to webcast their programmes.

Citizens celebrate the occasion by hoisting the national flag, singing and dancing on patriotic songs and reciting poems remembering the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters to attain independence and distributing sweets among people. 

History

Before 1947, India was under the British rule for close to 200 years. The Britishers began colonizing the country in 1757 and gained control over the country after the Battle of Plassey. The freedom struggle was one of the most important chapters of Indian history with many uprisings and protests that eventually led to erstwhile Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten freeing India from the British rule on August 15, 1947.

IndiaIllustrations/Atul Jain

Significance

Independence Day is celebrated to remember the freedom fighters who unflinching stood up to the Britishers while enduring the atrocities inflicted upon them by the latter, only for the future generations to live freely.

The ritual of the Prime Minister hoisting the Tricolour and addressing the citizens on the occasion, initiated by the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, is followed till date at the iconic Red Fort in New Delhi.

Events this year

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grand celebrations at the Red Fort have been limited to the presentation of the Guard of Honour to the Prime Minister by the armed forces and the Delhi Police, unfurling of the national flag, accompanied by playing of the national anthem, and firing of a 21-gun salute, a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and release of Tricoloured balloons at the end.

Schoolchildren, who grace the occasion every year dressed in the colours of the national flag, will not be attending the celebrations at the Red Fort this year due to the pandemic.

Because of the COVID-19 guidelines and extended precautions this year, only 20 per cent of VVIPs and other participants will be able to witness the speech of Prime Minister Modi live compared to previous years. Till last year, close to 10,000 people used to attend the function to witness the address by the Prime Minister.

How people celebrate the occasion

Other than hoisting the national flag and singing the national anthem and performing on patriotic songs, people decorate their houses with different sizes of the national flag.  People also fly Tricolour kites on this day with their friends and families as the event is symbolic of freedom.

Indians living in other parts of the world also celebrate Independence Day. In the United States, many states have declared August 15 as India Day. The Indian diaspora is known to conduct parade in New York on this day, famously known as the 'India Day parade' where they show the locals a glimpse of the vibrant, diverse culture of the country.

(With inputs from IANS)

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First Published: 15 August, 2020 08:00 IST

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