Happy 73rd Independence Day! In the words of Mark Twain, “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” India, the world’s largest democracy, attained freedom from the British Raj on 15 August 1947. As we celebrate 73 years of being independent, we present 73 facts and trivia about India and Indian Independence every Indian ought to know. Rest assured, your chest will swell with pride after reading these things.
1. Originally, the British had planned to transfer power by June 1948. But Lord Mountbatten’s appointment as the new viceroy in February 1947 led to changes favouring India. After a historic meeting with the major political parties on June 3, 1947, Mountbatten chose the date of August 15. It was on this very date, in 1945, the Japanese had surrendered to him at the end of World War II.
2. Not just India, but also Bahrain, North Korea, South Korea, Liechtenstein and the Republic of Congo celebrate 15th August as Independence Day.
3. Many suggested India be called Hindostan post Independence but the leaders chose an English name – India, which means the country of River Indus.
4. Cyril John Radcliffe drew the boundaries of the two nations, India and Pakistan. Apparently, he was so disheartened at the chaos caused by his decision, that he refused the salary of Rs. 40,000.
5. We did not have a National Anthem on our first Independence Day. The Bengali version of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was composed by Rabindranath Tagore in 1911 but it was only in 1950 that it was officially adopted.
6. In 1947, the currency of free India, the Indian Rupee was at par with the US Dollar since there were no outstanding credits on the balance sheet of India.
7. India had more than 550 princely states before independence. Hyderabad, the princely state of Nizams, was the last state to join the Indian Union in 1950.
8. Lord Mountbatten was forced to attend the Independence Day of both India and Pakistan. It was because of this, Pakistan’s Independence Day was made as 14th August.
9. Mahatama Gandhi didn’t attend the first Independence Day celebration. Gandhiji was fasting to protest against the Hindu-Muslim riots that were taking place in Bengal at that time.
10. Mahatama Gandhi wanted the Indian National Congress party (INC) to disband since its objective to attain freedom had been achieved.
11. Goa was still a Portuguese colony when India became independent. It joined the Indian union in 1961.
12. The first Prime Minister of an independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was a style icon. He featured in an issue of Vogue Magazine. His single-breasted jacket became a trend all over the globe.
13. Hindi is not India’s national language. It was chosen as India’s first official language and was declared so in 1949.
14. Sikkim became the final and 22nd state to join the Indian union in 1971. Prior to its union, it was an Indian protectorate.
15. The price of 10 grams of gold was Rs 88.62 when India achieved independence.
16. The Indian flag was first hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta, and not on August 15, 1947, as many would assume.
17. On I-day every year, until 1973, Governors would unfurl the flag in states. However, in 1974, M. Karunanidhi took up the issue with the then central government and became the first chief minister to hoist the flag on Independence Day.
18. Rajiv Gandhi once called Independence Day, Republic Day in a speech and thereafter, a tradition was set of Prime Ministers not giving extempore speeches. However, PM Narendra Modi broke the 26-year-old custom.
19. Not Jawaharlal Nehru but Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had won the Prime Ministry elections fair and square. Patel had even negotiated with the princely states to join the union. Nehru, however, refused to play second-in-command and Patel was pulled down.
20. India, a promoter of peace, has never invaded any country in her last 1,00,000 years of history.
21. India’s National Flag was first created by Pingali Venkayya at Bezwada in 1921 – it had two colours viz: red and green, representing the two major communities. Later, Mahatma Gandhi got a white stripe and a spinning wheel added.
22. Only Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission are authorized to make India’s National Flag. The Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha in Dharwad is the only maker of the flag.
23. India has the largest postal system in the world with more than 150,000 post offices, which is thrice the size of that in China. And yes, there is a floating post office in Dal Lake, Srinagar, which was inaugurated in August 2011.
24. India’s Kumbh Mela Festival is the world’s biggest gathering of humans.
25. Foreigners cannot take Indian currency (rupees) out of India, it is illegal.
26. The world’s biggest family lives together in India: a man has 39 wives and 94 children.
27. India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person.
28. India is home to the world’s wettest inhabited place. Mawsynram, a village on the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, receives the highest recorded average rainfall in the world.
29. The Chail Cricket Ground in Chail, Himachal Pradesh, situated at an altitude of 2,444 meters, is the highest cricket ground in the world.
30. ‘Shampoo’ has been derived from the Sanskrit word champu, which means to massage. Thus, India gave birth to the concept with the use of herbs.
31. India discovered water on the moon first with the help of Chandrayaan- 1 in September 2009.
32. Switzerland celebrates May 26th as Science Day in honour of ex-Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, the father of India’s missile program.
33. India is one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, only second to the United States of America.
34. India was the first country to develop extraction and purifying techniques of sugar.
35. Freddie Mercury and Oscar-winning Hollywood star Ben Kingsley are both of Indian origin. The legendary singer of the rock band ‘Queen’ was born a Parsi – Farrokh Bulsara while Ben born Krishna Pandit Bhanji.
36. India led the world in diamond production until they were found in Brazil.
37. The Indian Constitution has a set of rules that discourage anyone from the sale and slaughter of cows.
38. India houses the largest number of vegetarians in the world.
39. Shakuntala Devi, The Human Calculator, is a math prodigy from India.
40. India supplies 70% of the world’s spices.
41. Varanasi, earlier called Benaras/Banaras, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
42. The Lonar Lake, Maharashtra’s best-kept secret, is an astronomical marvel. This lake was formed by a plummeting meteor about 52,000 years ago.
43. India is the largest milk-producing country in the world.
44. India developed the decimal system and place value system.
45. Calculus, Trigonometry, and Algebra originated in India.
46. Chess was invented in India.
47. ‘Zero’ was invented by Aryabhatta, an Indian mathematician
48. Bollywood is the largest film industry, with India leading the most number of films produced.
49. Yoga originated in India first, about 5,000 years ago.
50. India produces the second largest pool of engineers and scientists in the world.
51. “Anal” is a language spoken in India by thousands of people.
52. The Lifeline Express aka the Jeevan Rekha Express is the world’s first hospital train taking its services ranging from surgeries to cancer treatment to remote villages.
53. Adolf Hitler, the dictator, was a huge fan of Major Dhyanchand and had even offered him German citizenship.
54. India is one of the largest producers of tea in the world.
55. Nearly 90 countries buy software made and from India.
56. The world’s only magnetic hill with an anti-gravitational effect is located in Ladakh, India. There is a sign, upon reaching which you need to put your vehicle in neutral gear and it shall climb the hill on its own.
57. The game of snakes and ladders, initially known as Moksha Patamu, was invented in India.
58. India’s first rocket was so light, it was transported on a cycle.
59. Situated at an elevation of over 19,300 feet, Ladakh has the highest motorable road in the world.
60. Indian housewives hold 11% of the World’s gold.
61. India has the largest postal system in the world with more than 1.5 lakh post offices.
62. Indian Railways employs more than a million people, and thereby are one of the largest employers in the world.
63. India’s road network is second-largest in the world.
64. Apart from the U.S. and Japan, only India has built a supercomputer indigenously.
65. The first-ever university in the world started around 700 BC in India, named Takshila.
66. Despite budget constraints, India’s space program is among the top five space programs in the world. India’s Mars mission costs less than the cost of the movie Gravity.
67. The Brihadeswara Temple in Tamil Nadu is the first granite temple of the world.
68. India is the world’s largest importer of arms.
69. India controls the world’s highest battlefield – Siachen.
70. White tigers are only found among Indian tigers.
71. The Golden Temple of Amritsar is not just the most visited place in the world but also provides meals to over one lakh devotees every single day.
72. The Chenab bridge in Jammu and Kashmir is the world’s tallest rail bridge.
73. India has more people using the internet than the entire population of America.