FIRST YEARS OF FREEDOM
When India became free, millions of people poured into our country from the area which became Pakistan. They left their lands, homes and even close relations behind. A great number of people who had wanted Pakistan to be formed went away from India to make their homes in the new country.
The most urgent thing that India had to do was to take care of the refugees who had come in millions. They had to be fed, given jobs and helped to start life again. The property the Muslims left in India was less than half of that left by the refugees who came from Pakistan. This sudden arrival of millions of men, women and children put great strain on the country. The administration nearly broke down and we were on the brink of a famine.
We had more refugees to look after than any other country of the world has ever had. Our Government managed to give most of them lands, homes and jobs. The settlement of our refugees is one of the greatest achievements of our Government.
THE PRINCELY STATES
At the time Indla became independent there were nearly 600 States ruled by Rajas and Maharajas who had been friendly to the British. Some of the States were very big, like Hyderabad and Kashmir. Others were tiny estates of just a few square miles. Most of the Princes of these States lived in great luxury in huge palaces with fleets of cars while their own subjects had hardly enough to eat.
In free India, there was no place for these States because the country could not remain cut up into little bits and pieces. All the States were asked to become part of either India or Pakistan, according to their choice. The great work of taking over these States, and bringing them up to the same level as the rest of India, was done by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He was a close follower of Gandhi and first won fame by leading a Satyagraha of peasants in Bardoli in Gujarat. When India became free, Sardar Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister.
Becoming a part of India meant that the princes would have to give up their grand way of living. Many of them did not like this. Sardar Patel talked to them with understanding and friendliness, but was absolutely firm that they could not stay as they were. In a little less than two years, all the States became a part of India. On the whole there was no bitterness or fighting.
REPUBLIC OF INDIA
Soon after becoming free, we gave ourselves a Constitution. The Constitution lists the freedoms that are guaranteed to each Indian, and lays down the way in which the country is to be governed. The Constitution came into force in 1950 on January 26, the day we celebrate each year as Republic Day.
By this Constitution we are a parliamentary democracy. In a parliamentary democracy, the people choose their spokesmen who sit together in what is called 'Parliament' and pass laws for the country. This is a great thing for a country, which has often been oppressed by kings and foreign rulers. Now we elect our own President. The First President of India was Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
We have a Central Government with a Prime Minister who is responsible to Parliament. Each State has State Government, with a Governor and a Chief Minister, and a Legislature, which is somewhat like a small Parliament.
India is called the largest democracy in the world.
DATES IN THE LINE OF TIME
1. The Aryans begin to come to India about 2500 B.C.
2. Gautama Buddha is born about 623 B.C.
3. Ashoka begins his reign 273 B.C.
4. Jesus Christ is born The Christian era begins
5. Samudragupta comes to the throne about 320 A.D.
6. Harshavardhana meets YuanChwang 643A.D.
7. A Pallava king (Narasimhavarman Mahamalla) begins work on the rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram about 642 A.D.
8. Alauddin Khalji becomes Sultan of Delhi 1296 A.D.
9. Kabir is born about 1488 A.D.
10. Vasco da Gama lands in Calicut 1498 A.D.
11. Krishnadeva Raya comes to the throne 1509 A.D.
12. The birth of Tulsidas 1532 A.D.
13. Akbar starts a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi 1582 A.D.
14. Jahangir marries Nurjahan 1611 A.D.
15. Sir Thomas Roe visits Jahangir 1615 A.D.
16. The birth of Shivaji 1627 A.D.
17. Work starts on the Taj Mahal 1632 A.D.
18. The Battle of Plassey 1757 A.D.
19. Tipu Sultan's last battle (with the British) 1799 A.D.
20. Raja Ram Mohun Roy passes away in England 1833 A.D.
21. The Great Revolt 1857 A.D.
22. The birth of Gandhi 1869 A.D.
23. Gandhi starts his non-cooperation movement 1920 A.D.
24. The coming of freedom 1947 A.D.
25. India becomes a Republic 1950 A.D.