Just a day ago, our nation celebrated its 75th anniversary of independence, and while we are all commemorating this momentous occasion, there is much to discover about how we got here. A Twitter user posted a detailed thread on why India didn’t join the Commonwealth following decolonization like Australia and New Zealand, which shed light on the country’s route to becoming a republic.
This may come as a surprise to some, but India was granted Dominion status on this day in 1947. It was not fully independent.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2022
Dominion meant that India was independent within the commonwealth. But the British King was still the head.
There was a need for an establishment of nations that were once a part of the British Empire as the Empire started the process of decolonization and the emergence of independent states from former British territories.
The 1949 London Declaration was ratified by eight nations (Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom) following the collapse of the British Empire. In a nutshell, this established that all members were free, sovereign, and on an equal footing with one another and that they acknowledged King George VI as the figurative head of their grouping, the Commonwealth of Nations.
Mountbatten was charged with working out the details of Indian Independence. Mountbatten soon seems to have realised that India was far from having a constitution of its own.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2022
In 1942 and 1947, respectively, Australia and New Zealand both joined the Statute. After India gained its independence in 1947, it decided to abolish the monarchy as the form of government and establish itself as a republic.
At a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in London in April 1949, it was decided that India could maintain membership if it accepted the British crown as only “the symbol of the free association” of Commonwealth members. India announced its intention to become a republic in 1949, which would have required its withdrawal from the Commonwealth under the existing rules.
The thread claims that Mountbatten decided it would be appropriate to give India dominion status while the nation worked on its constitution in light of the escalating agitation.
Apparently the other dominions (Canada/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa) objected to India being placed as an “equal” in this category! Why? Well, for obvious reasons.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2022
The tweets went on to explain how Japan played a role in deciding on our Independence Day and the precise moment our nation proclaimed its full sovereignty.
In any case, Mountbatten decided “Shubhasya Sheeghram” and created these two independent domains on 15th August 1947.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2022
Why on this day? Why not? Also because Mountbatten remembered that the Japanese had surrendered on 15th Aug 1945 (the formal surrender happened on 2nd Sep).
It took us a few more years to write our constitution and then to severe ties with the British on Jan 26, 1950. On this day we asserted full Sovereignty.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2022
Pakistan continued to be a dominion until 1956.
In addition to this fascinating thread about India’s independence, the Twitter user had also previously posted about the country’s division and how some of the present states came into being.
0. On Independence day, I look briefly at how some of the current states came into being. Some of them I had not even heard before.— V Vinay (@ainvvy) August 15, 2018
This is now India looked before partition. pic.twitter.com/T9KJzkKW29
Also read: This 7-Year-Old’s Painful Account Of The Partition Shows The Price We Had To Pay For Freedom