Celebrating 70 Years of Indian Independence
Posted on 17th August 2017
At the stroke of midnight between August 14th and August 15th 1947, India gained independence from Britain. That makes this week the 70th anniversary of independence. The whole of India celebrated with a national holiday. In many areas, schools and offices distributed sweets to mark the occasion. For those who don’t know the significance of the event, here’s a little bit of the history behind independence.
The Long Struggle
Britain ruled India for nearly two centuries. First through the East India Company and later through the crown. Understandably, many Indians were not happy with this occupation and wished to govern their own affairs. An armed rebellion in 1857 (sometimes known as the Indian Mutiny) failed to remove the British, but did achieve some changes. Queen Victoria stripped the East India Company of their power and seized control for herself. She delivered on some of her promised reforms, but also increased the number of British soldiers occupying the country and granted herself the title Empress of India.
The Work of a Pacifist
In the early years of the Twentieth Century, Mahatma Gandhi had been living and working in South Africa. He returned to India in 1915 and joined the Indian National Congress – becoming its leader in 1920. Gandhi believed that British rule depended on the co-operation of Indians. If Indians withdrew that co-operation, the British would not be able to rule India. In the early days, non-violent protests and marches were met by gunfire. By 1947, Gandhi was proved right: India was ungovernable without the co-operation of her people and the British prepared to hand over rule.
The Radcliffe Line: The Tragedy Following Partition
At the moment of independence, the British divided a nation in two. A line on a map drawn by civil servant Sir Cyril Radcliffe without local consultation created the states of India and Pakistan. The intention was to separate the broadly Muslim populations (based in the North West and the region that would later become Bangladesh) from the rest of the country that was predominantly Hindu and Sikh. The result was mass migrations by religious minorities anxious to cross the border in both directions. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the chaos.
A Rich Cultural Legacy
At Chakra, our chefs draw on the rich cultural legacy of India. The British and Indian cultures learned a lot from each other during the decades of occupation and have continued to influence each other post-independence – especially when it comes to food. Many British soldiers and civil servants developed a taste for Indian food while working abroad and were delighted when the first Indian restaurants opened on these shores. Their enthusiasm soon spread to the rest of the population. The British branch of the curry tradition has seen the development of many exciting new dishes. In this experimental culture, our chefs can present traditional Indian dishes in a new and exciting style.
Come and celebrate seventy years of Indian independence. Book a table at Chakra.