• Nishit Shah

A Soldier’s Independence Day


About the Author:

Achieving freedom hasn’t been easy. It has cost the lives of innumerable soldiers and continues to do so. It is this selfless love of the Indian Armed Forces (Indian Army, Navy and Air Force) that makes them offer the supreme sacrifice for our nation and its people. It’s their bravery, courage and excellence that makes them special children of our motherland.


Left: A message at The War Memorial, Kohima

Right: A hoarding along the Final Frontiers of India


This year we celebrate our 74th Independence Day. After 200 years of British Rule, India had officially gained its independence on the 15th of August, 1947. While we, as Indians, should always remember and value the sacrifice and bravery of our freedom fighters in their quest for an Independent India, we must also acknowledge the nation building role that the Indian Armed Forces have played in making India what it is today. Ever since independence the Indian Armed Forces have been at the forefront as the guarantor of the nation’s freedom against external aggression. With its diverse multi-religious, multilingual and multicultural composition, the Indian Military is a shining example of the national goal of achieving “unity in diversity”. They have always put India First; be it fighting a war or dealing with a proxy war along the LOC; from spreading the Armed Forces’ ethos of secularism, tolerance and self discipline to being ready to provide help and carry out rescue operations in the face of a natural disaster.


Left: Parade of Indian Armed Forces at Rajpath on 15th August, 1947

Right: 2014 Independence Day Parade at Rajpath


We, here at The Defence Archive, take a look at how the Indian Armed Forces celebrate Independence Day. On the eve of Independence Day, the president of India delivers an address to the nation from his office that is broadcast nationally. On the morning of 15th August (one of the only 3 national holidays), the celebration kicks off with the arrival of the Prime Minister at the Red Fort’s Lahori Gate. The Prime Minister would then be escorted from there to the saluting base by GoC (General Officer Commanding) Delhi Area where a combined Inter-Services (Indian Army, Navy and Air Force) and Police Guards’ (Delhi Police) general salute and guard of honour would be presented to him. The GoC Delhi Area then accompanies the Prime Minister to the dias and stays there throughout the PM’s address to the nation. The Guard of Honour Contingent comprises 1 officer and 24 personnel each from the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and the Delhi Police. The main event begins with the hoisting of the flag by the Prime Minister. While the unfurling happens, there is a set of synchronised 21 gunshots fired to honour the occasion followed by the national anthem.


Left: Indian Armed Forces Musical Band Concert: Tri-Services held on the 9th of August, 2020 between North Block and South Block, New Delhi

Right: Indian Armed Forces Musical Band Concert: Tri-Services held on the 8th of August, 2020 at Red Fort, New Delhi.


Indian Armed Forces Musical Band Concert held at various places in the country as part of the 74th Independence Day Celebrations


This year, the Indian Tri-Services Musical Bands kicked off the 74th Independence Day celebrations from the 1st of August 2020 itself . For the first time in independent India’s history, the Indian Military Bands displayed their performances across the country – from Srinagar to Chennai to ANC (Andaman and Nicobar Command) to Kolkata to Porbandar. These performances are intended as gestures of gratitude and appreciation towards India’s Frontline Corona Warriors who have been continuously fighting to stop the spread of the virus in the country at the risk of their own lives.


Later in the day, celebrations include parades honouring the freedom fighters and a march past led by the Indian Armed Forces and the Paramilitary Forces.


Left: Indian Army Contingent in parade

Right: Indian Armed Forces Personnel Of The Guard of Honour Contingent


Apart from the formal celebration, there is a unique tradition in the Indian Army where the Junior Commanding Officers (JCOs) host a lunch for the senior officers on Independence Day, in their mess, while the senior officers requite the gesture for the JCOs on Republic Day (26th January) in their mess. Over the years the Indian Army through its various commands has organised the “Know Your Army” mela (fair) as a run up to the Independence Day to motivate the youth to join the Indian Armed Forces. In such a mela, various schools are invited based on the region where the mela is organized, and the students are briefed on various aspects of what a day in the life of an army man would be like along the foremost frontiers of the country and are given a briefing on the kinds of weapons and artillery the army operates with. Independence Day is also celebrated at the Indian Army’s elite and world renowned Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare (CIJW) school at Vairengte in Mizoram. The celebrations commence with unfurling of the National Flag by the officiating commandant, followed by a weapons and equipment display and a visit to the information and research centre and motivation hall. It concludes with the felicitation of veer naaris and extending of medical facilities to the veterans present there.


Pictures from “Know Your Army Mela” organised at Zirakpur and Ambala under the aegis of Western Command to motivate the youth to join Indian Army in 2015.


In addition to this, every year, in order to foster patriotism amongst Indian youth, Independence Day celebrations are organised by various Naval Commands across India with the theme Know your Forces. As a part of these celebrations, the Naval base and selected ships are kept open for organised trips from different schools and colleges of the city. The initiative is aimed at familiarising the younger generation about the Indian Navy and to motivate them to join the Armed Forces. The students are briefed on various aspects of the vessels and life onboard, which include a safety demonstration, fire fighting and damage control and a motivational video showcasing the prowess of the Indian Navy.


As part of Independence Day celebrations, over 500 children from Choice School, Jnanodayam Public School and Toch (Residential) Public School, Kochi visited Indian Naval Ships Sunayna and Shardul on 11 August 2017


On a day when we value and remember the great heroes of India’s glorious past, our present uniform-clad heroes also remember and honour them in their own way. On this Independence day, let us applaud all of them for this unending spirit and devotion towards their nation.

A very Happy Independence Day to all our readers from The Defence Archive. We wish happy landings, fair winds and successful operations to all the personnel of the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Army respectively. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to you. Thank you!

References


https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/independence-day-celebrations-heres-how-india-will-celebrate-15-august/1675969/


https://knowindia.gov.in/independence-day-celebration/


https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/independence-day-celebrations-1947-nehru-memorial-museum-library/gQ7T_zFF?hl=en


https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/army-bands-kick-off-independence-day-celebrations/articleshow/48363984.cms#:~:text=NEW%20DELHI%3A%20Indian%20Army%20today,at%20the%20India%20Gate%20here.&text=These%20events%20are%20aimed%20at,Red%20Fort%20on%20August%2015.


https://www.facebook.com/Indianarmy.adgpi/posts/western-command-know-your-army-mela-runup-to-the-independence-day-celebrations-a/407097539486881/


https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/a-unique-custom-of-indian-army/story-VSNiRh2ybAQ30Wh0PU8EgJ.html


https://theculturetrip.com/asia/india/articles/how-india-celebrates-independence-day/


https://www.facebook.com/IndianNavy/posts/as-part-of-independence-day-celebrations-over-500-children-from-choice-school-jn/512565949098270/

** Content on this site does not constitute endorsement of any political party, candidate or affiliation. Commentaries represent the opinion of their authors only, and do not reflect the views of the publication staff or the editorial team.


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