Iconic moments that shaped India after Independence

India has clocked in 75 years of Independence, leaving behind a trail of landmarks that define its journey from the agony of Partition to a strong, powerful and democratic nation. Here are top 15    milestones in India’s journey since 1947.

Partition of India

India’s Independence from 200 years of British rule came with a heavy price. The country was divided along sectarian lines into India and Pakistan. More than two lakh people were killed in ensuing riots and 14 million were displaced. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced the celebration of August 14 as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination

Mahatma Gandhi, the 20th century’s most famous apostle of non-violence, who spearheaded the campaign for independence from Britain, was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948. Before the final fatal blow, Gandhi was subjected to five failed assassination attempts.

First general elections

After the adoption of Constitution on January 26, 1950, India conducted its first general elections in 1951, with the Congress party winning 364 of the 489 seats. Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s first prime minister.

War with China

The trigger for the Sino-India war of 1962 was a border issue, with the Chinese side refusing to accept the McMahon Line and Line of Actual Control. The war continued for about a month and ended on November 21, after China declared a ceasefire. The Indian army lost over 1300 armymen.

Lieutenant General AAK Niazi, commander of the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, signed surrender before Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, India’s Eastern Army Commander (left).

Birth of Bangladesh

In 1971, India won the war against Pakistan that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). The war ended after the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian Army and Bangladesh’s Mukti Bahini.

Pokhran nuclear test

India conducted its first nuclear test in Pokhran, Rajasthan, on May 18, 1974, which was codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’. It was the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation that was not a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It took a nearly two-year preparation for India to conduct this test after which the country had to face a series of sanctions from the nations like the US. India became a full-fledged nuclear state after a series of five nuclear bomb tests in May 1998 under the codename “Operation Shakti”.

Emergency: The darkest phase in Indian history

On June 1975, a state of emergency was declared in India for a 21-month period by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi due to prevailing ‘internal disturbance’. It led to the suspension of fundamental rights, putting opposition leaders in jails, and imposing censorship on the media. During this time, elections were suspended and civil liberties curbed.

Indira Gandhi’s assassination and anti-Sikh riots

After Operation Bluestar to remove militants from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. The immediate fallout of this was that anti-Sikh riots broke out across the country leading to the death of 3,000 Sikhs in the capital Delhi.

Babri Masjid was a Mughal era mosque that stood at the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.

Babri Masjid demolition

On December 6, 1992, the disputed Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was demolished by Hindu nationalist groups leading to riots across India, The mosque remained controversial as the devotees of Lord Ram claimed that it was constructed by demolishing a temple. Over 2,000 people were killed in the Hindu-Muslim riots. On August 5th, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation brick for the Supreme Court-mandated Ram Temple to be constructed in Ayodhya.

Kargil war

India launched ‘Operation Vijay’ in 1999 after Pakistani forces infiltrated inside the Line of Control. The war ended in July, with India successfully recapturing Tiger Hill. The official death toll on the Indian side was 527, while that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453.

The mission was launched on October 22, 2008, by the Indian Space Research Organization.

India successfully launched Chandrayaan in October 2008 to explore the moon. The spacecraft carried 11 scientific instruments built in India, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Bulgaria. One of the greatest achievements of Chandrayaan was the discovery of water molecules in the lunar soil.

India’s anti-corruption movement

Spearheaded by activist Anna Hazare and supported by present Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, India Against Corruption movement that began in 2011 was a series of protests held across India for a Jan Lokpal bill to check graft in politics. The bill was finally passed by Parliament in 2013.

Bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir

On August 6, 2019, Indian Parliament passed a bill dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh and also adopted a resolution scrapping the special status of the state under Article 370.

Citizens across the country were on the streets demanding the abrogation of the CAA.

Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019

The BJP government enacted amendments to Citizenship law to grant citizenship to religious minorities of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, who had to flee their homeland due to persecution. Protesters opposed the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) for allowing citizenship to immigrants, who came in after 1971. By January, the focus of the anti-CAA protests shifted to Delhi. The Delhi Police registered 254 FIRs and arrested or detained 903 people in connection with the violence.

Covid-19 crisis

A health crisis of unimaginable proportions continues to dominate India and the world since 2020, triggering massive deaths, and economic and social upheavals. The first case of the coronavirus in India was located in Kerala on January 30 through a medical student who had returned from Wuhan.

India began its vaccination program on January 2021, but by early April 2021, a major second wave of infections took hold in the country with destructive consequences. On 9 April, India surpassed 1 million active cases and by April 12, India overtook Brazil as having the second-most COVID-19 cases worldwide.

On April 30, 2021, India reported over 400,000 new cases and over 3,500 deaths in one day.

Images courtesy of (Photo: Indiatv.com), (Photo: Atlantic Council), (Photo: rsilpak.org), (Photo: IndiaTV) and (Photo: Wikipedia)

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