14th August 1947, Pakistan was born. Pakistan was once North India where all religions and castes lived as brothers.
15th August 1947, India recieved her independence – the sub-continent that fought many years with the British Raj to gain her free right.
Many men, women and young adults participated in speeches and marches. Participated is actually a tame word, so let me say retailiated. Yes, these people were outraged at the misuse of colonial power that caused them much grief and anger. Most were left poor and hungry, were mistreated and mocked.
There were two great ‘Indian wars’ – The Indian Mutiny of 1857 and The Quit India Movement of 1942. The Indian Mutiny was an Indian soldier’s war against the British Military. Mangal Pandey, a great sepoy (soldier) stood up for his fellow Hindu and Muslim soldiers who were ordered to bite the end of a rifle cartridge to be used. Unknown to them, the cartridges were coated in pig and cow fat.
In the religion, Islam, to eat anything that of a pig is seen as a dirty act. It is against their faith as the pig is seen as a dirty animal. To a Hindu, a cow is a sacred mother who gives milk to her young and to us. To eat or kill such a sacred animal is like killing one’s own family member. The cow is worshipped like a God.
When Mangal Pandey found out that the end of the cartridges were coated in these animal fats, he wasted no time in informing his unit. There was instant uproar and the Bengal army refused to use those cartridges. The East India Company were in trouble and they knew it. Mangal Pandey shot the first shot in defence of being punished – a British Sergeant was dead. He was hanged on April 8 1857 after a trial and then the mutinees spread to other parts of the country. Other armies joined this war and a lot of Indian soldiers shot their British officers.
The Indian Mutiny ended in 1859 which caused the East India Company to dissolve. This led to a major change in the ruling of India – no longer was she to be ruled through the East India company but through the Crown. This war shook the British population at large but they were not to know that in less than a hundred years, another war was coming that would change their lives for good.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a lawyer, came back to India (from South Africa) in 1915. News of his infamous rebellion had not gone unaknowledged and was already a famous figure. After working hard to achieve fair justice and good living conditions in South Africa for the Indian minority (where he was struck down more than a few times for this and for his rebellious burning of the ration card amongst other things) Mohandas Gandhi returned to India.
He travelled around India dresssed only in a white sheet. He carried a walking stick. His political enemy – Prime Minister of Britian during World War II, Winston Churchill mocked Mohandas Gandhi calling him a half-naked fakir. The Indians called him Mahatma – The Great! Thus, he was called Mahatama Gandhi or Bapu – father.
Gandhi saw many things and these things made him think about the whole picture. He saw injustice in every corner of India – crop tax, salt tax, de-equalisation and poverty.
In 1942, Gandhi declared the Quit India Movement – he wanted the British out! The struggle for Independence began and many innocent Indian, British and Anglo-Indian people died as anger and violence flared throughout India. Gandhi had not wanted this and fasted on many occasions to bring peace back to the nation.
The ‘Indian war’ ended in 1947 when India was given her independence but at a high price. One of the leaders, Jinnah, wanted a seperate Muslim country where no Hindu can rule. He didn’t trust Nehru – the first Indian prime minister. The Crown decided to split India in two and Pakistan was born, under leadership of Jinnah.
Celebrating Indian Independence is not only about celebrating Freedom but also about aknowledging those mytrys who sacrificed their lives for a better India – a better future for their children. Little did they know that the outcome would be so different.
As Indian Independence is celebrated in India, the Indian community also celebrate it in many other countries – the UK, USA, Europe, Australia and many other places.
Freedom of the Monsoon is a not only a story but a thought provoking book which brings to the forefront the sacrifices and obstacles the Quit India Movement caused. This book was written for people to understand the pain and grief the Indians suffered during colonial times and to see how the British lived and how their culture evolved.
Five stories…five lives…