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India gained it’s independence from United Kingdom at midnight on August 15, 1947. The Indian Independence Act, was an act enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom and came into effect on August 15, 1947. This act partitioned “British India” into two independent nations, India and Pakistan.
Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India was asked by the Indian leaders to continue as the Governor-General of India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru because the first Prime Minister of India.
The Constitution of India came into effect on 26th January 1950. This day is celebrated in India as its “Republic Day”. It is a national holiday in India.
Although India got its Independence on August 15, 1947, it was a Constitutional Monarchy from that day until January 26th, 1950 (George VI was the King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth during this period). The Constitutional Monarchy ended on January 26th, 1950 when Dr. Rajendra Prasad was appointed as the First President of India.
I live in Philadelphia and Philadelphia is birthplace of America (July 4th, 1776). Although we celebrate our Independence on July 4th, the last British soldier left the United States only on November 25th, 1783. New York City was occupied by the British from 1776 to 1783. George Washington was elected as our “first” President in 1789.
So who lead the United States from 1776 to 1789, the year Washington became President. Most us do not know that George Washington is the first President of the United States under our current constitution. But from 1781 to 1789, the United States had 8 Presidents, each serving one year. They were elected according to the Articles of Confederation.
Who is John Hanson?
John Hanson was the first president of the United States elected under the Articles of Confederation. He was elected in November 1781. Under his presidency, most foreign troops were removed from American soil. He also introduced the Treasury Department and the Foreign Affairs Department. He also established the Thanksgiving Day as the forth Thursday in November.
India’s Independence From Portugal?
Briton was not the only country that colonized India. Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark/Norway and France also colonized India. The British held the biggest chunk of the territory. India’s Independence Day is the day the British officially allowed self-rule. But the Portuguese and the French were still around.
Portuguese in India.
The Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama, landed in my home state of Kerala (South India) on 20th May, 1498. Ever since that time the Portuguese exerted strong control over the Western Coast of India (primarily the States of Kerala and Goa). The Portuguese occupation of India in many ways was much more brutal compared to the British.
After India got it’s independence from Briton, the newly formed Indian government asked the Portuguese to leave India. The Portuguese refused. The Indian military liberated Goa in 1961 and the Portuguese surrendered. This ended a 450 year Portuguese colonization of the Western coastal areas of India. Britain ruled India for only 200 years (For the first 100 years, India was controlled by the British East India Company).
Also, it is important to note that in the 200 years the British were in India, they did not control 100% of the territory. Some regions of India remained independent and some were indirectly controlled (In India we call it Direct Rule vs Indirect Rule).
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The President of India’s responsibilities are largely ceremonial in nature. The Prime Minister of India has all the power (Unlike the United States, India has a parliamentary system of government. The Prime Minister has to enjoy the support of the majority of the Lower House of the Parliament. The Lower House is known as the Lok Sabha (House of the People). If the Prime Minister loses this majority for some reason, the President will play an important role in the process that follows. The Upper House is known as the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).
We The People of the United States and India.
The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States begins with the famous words “We The People … “. There was a lot of debate at that time on whether the the preamble should start with “We The People ..” because the United States at that time was more a union of the States and not necessarily a union of the people. In the end, those who where for “We The People …” won. The words “We the People ..” was written by Gouverneur Morris. He was one of the most vocal among the founding fathers (He spoke 173 times at the convention, more than any other delegate).
The Chief Architect of the Indian Constitution was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Officially he was the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. He was also independent India’s first Minister of Law. He earned doctorates at the London School of Economics and Colombia University (At the age of 22, he joined Colombia University in 1913).
He was born in a community that was considered as “Lower Caste” and “Untouchables”. Most of his life he fought discrimination and improving the lives of people in India who are considered as untouchables by the some members of society.
The preamble to the constitution of India also starts with the words “We The People …”. I wonder where Dr. Ambedkar got the idea from!! Indian constitution’s preamble is somewhat controversial. The Supreme Court of India has ruled both ways on whether or not the preamble is part of India’s constitution, and if it is part of the constitution, whether the ideas mentioned in the preamble are enforceable by law.
Similarities Between the Laws of India and the United States.
The laws of India and that of the United States are very similar because they are fundamentally based on the English Common Law that the United Kingdom imposed on most of it’s colonies. The United States is 244 years old whereas India as an independent nation is only 73 years old. So, new laws, rights and responsibilities are still being debated and written.
Differences Between the Laws of India and the United States.
There is one huge difference between the United States and India in how the civil laws are applied. India is an extremely diverse nation in many ways. India has personal laws that applies to specific communities only. In certain circumstances, Muslims and Hindus in India have different laws for the exact same issue (example divorce). Indian constitution mandates that India should have a uniform code. But no one agrees what that code should be.
The issue over the “Uniform Civil Code” is always seen in India as a divide between Hindus and Muslims in India. But it is much more complicated than that. The Hindus in India themselves are extremely diverse in their practices and most Hindus would not agree on a “Uniform Civil Code for Hindus” leave alone a Uniform Civil Code for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains (India also has religious practices that do not fall under any of the well known religious groups).
Relationship between India and the United States.
India has always had a good relationship with the United States economically. Even during the peak of the Cold War (India was considered to be Pro-Soviet by Western Nations), the United States was one of India’s top trading partners. Throughout the Cold War India was very wary of American intentions towards India because of America’s tight relationship with Pakistan (India’s arch rival and a very unstable nation).
The whole dynamics of the relationship started to change after 09/11. Today India and the United States have a very strategic relationship. Unlike during the cold war, it is not just a basic economic relationship, it is also now a people to people relationship and a fast growing relationship between the armed forces of the two nations.
What are your thoughts about India?