India@75: The stories behind the long struggle

On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolour as the Free India National Flag.

India@75: The stories behind the long struggle
The founding members of Infosys along with others. Infosys was founded in Pune with an initial capital of $250 in 1981. It relocated to Bangalore and became Infosys Limited in April 1992. The company floated its IPO in February 1993 with an offer price of Rs95

Gandhi did not attend the first Independence celebrations on August 15, 1947

According to historians, the first national flag in India was hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta, now Kolkata. The flag was composed of three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, while Vande Mataram was scripted on the middle strip.

In 1931, a resolution was passed adopting a tricolour flag as the national flag. The flag, forebear of the present one, was saffron, white, and green, with Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the centre. On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolour as the Free India National Flag. However, it replaced the spinning wheel on the flag with the Dharmachakra as the emblem. The first variant of the current national flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya in 1921.

The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the middle of the white band is a navy blue wheel which represents the chakra. Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

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At the time of Independence, India did not have an official national anthem. The song ‘Bharato Bhagya Bidhata’ composed in 1911 by Rabindranath Tagore was renamed as ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and adopted by the Constitutent Assembly.

Although the Indian Independence Act was approved on July 18, 1947, Lord Mountbatten chose August 15 as the date of India’s Independence as it coincided with the date of Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces after World War II on August 15, 1945.

The demarcation line drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe to depict the Pakistani and Indian portions of Punjab and Bengal, also known as the Radcliffe line , was completed on August 3, 1947. But it was officially published only on August 17, 1947, two days after India got Independence.

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Mahatma Gandhi with Jawaharlal Nehru after the latter was elected president of the Indian National Congress

Mahatma Gandhi did not attend India’s first Independence celebrations in Delhi on August 15, 1947, while the nation celebrated its arduously earned freedom. That’s because the father of the nation was on a hunger strike in Kolkata to stop the violence between Hindus and Muslims.

Sikkim became the 22nd state of India on May 16, 1975, after then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signed the 36th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 23, 1975, and May 15. The amendment Bill was introduced after 97.5% of the people voted to go with India in the referendum held on April 14, 1975.

Apart from India, five other nations also celebrate their independence day on August 15. These include the Republic of Congo, which gained full independence from French colonial rulers in 1960. Both South Korea and North Korea were freed
from Japan’s colonial rule in 1945. Similarly, Bahrain gained independence from its British colonial rulers in 1971, and Liechtenstein gained independence from German rule in 1866 and has celebrated August 15 as its National Day since 1940.

Looking back, looking ahead

1 BR Shenoy, a classical liberal economist, submitted a dissent note on the second five-year Plan’s focus on “deficit financing” for industrialisation; state control, he would say, would undermine democracy.

2 For the first time in 1999, the Union Budget was presented at 11 am instead of 5 pm, which was a carry-over from the British Raj.

3 The Income-Tax Act 1961 was preceded by a 1922 Act; the Indian Revenue Service was born in 1953; the Central Board of Revenue Act, set up in 1924, was the predecessor of CBDT.

4 Amnesty scheme an old idea : The first voluntary income disclosure scheme was unveiled in 1951, it was followed by two more such schemes in 1965 and 1975.

5 I-T returns have been processed through a computerised system since 2002, e-filing of returns began in 2006, and centralised processing of returns in 2009

6 Budget 1949-50 abolished Capital Gains Tax but it was brought back in in 1956-57

7 Fiscal discipline was given legislative sanction in 2003; it outlined a glide path to reduce the fiscal deficit-GDP ratio to 3% and maintain it at that level; exigencies since forced governments to revise the road map several times.

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