From a satellite being carried on a bullock cart to Sardar Vallabhai Patel delivering a riveting speech, here are some rare pictures from Indian history.
Significant events throughout Indian history have shaped our nation and continue to impact our present day. While some of these events chronicle achievements, others highlight some melancholic times. Here’s a list of such events that caused a dent in the history of this country.
1. Famines in India
Famines were very common in India due to hiccups in the agricultural system combined with policy failures. One such major famine was the one in Bengal in 1943. While the shortage of food was not the main reason, it was the inaccessibility to food that resulted in the Bengal famine. In addition to this, hoarding of food and panic buying worsened the famine, and it ended up claiming around 4 million lives.
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2. INS Viraat
One of the longest-serving carriers in India’s history was HMS Hermes which served the British and Indian navies for more than 50 years. The Centaur class flattop hosted fighter jets and was designed for short and vertical takeoffs and landings. After a long stint with the British Royal Navy, the carrier was sold to India in 1986 and was commissioned into the navy as INS Viraat.
3. Indo-Pak war of 1971
The picture depicts a scene during the war when 14 Guards were dispatched to capture a Pakistani position at Gangasagar. This was on a major railway link; thus, a strategic position to capture.
On the night of 3 December, 1971, Lance Naik Albert Ekka — a soldier heading the operation, went with the battalion to the spot. Here the group was subjected to intense shelling. Though seriously injured during the firing, Lance Naik continued to fight back with the motto of his regiment, loud and clear — ‘Pahla Hamesha Pahla’ (First Always First).
While his bravery and heroic actions led to victory, Lance Naik Albert Ekka was killed in the war.
4. C V Raman’s discovery
Asia’s first Nobel laureate in physical science, C V Raman was often known for being a scientist like no other. There is an interesting story associated with this great persona.
It goes that in 1954, he received the Bharat Ratna for his contribution to the country in the field of physics, but later smashed it when he was unable to get funding for the platinum that he needed for his experiments. This fit of rage was a result of funded research being prioritised in state-owned institutes while other universities were left to fend for themselves.
5. Indo-China war
A war that went down in history for the loss of lives and property that it left behind, the Indo-China war was fought over the Aksai Chin region which lay along the border. It was a highly disputed region and caught the interest of both countries after seeing its potential.
China was intent on building a military road through the region while India insisted that the region was part of Ladakh and thus, under the Indian administration. This led to the war in 1962, where even women were trained to be militarily sound.
6. Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s speech
One of the most influential political leaders and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress, Sardar Vallabhai Patel advocated for India’s rights and the culture of the motherland. In 1949, one such speech given by him addressed these points.
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“If you forget your citizenship and talk of religion, it is a cloak. Therefore, when I hear some people talking about Hinduism in danger, I feel that they are going the wrong way. Do not indulge in scaremongering for selfish ends. Do not employ the wrong methods for catching votes or forming the parties. It is a very dangerous game. After all, we too want to serve our own people.”
“Let us build our strength and reputation from this Union which on India’s map is posited like the feet of Mother India. If the legs are shaky, the whole edifice will topple. Let other Unions emulate your example. I wish you Godspeed and good administration.”
7. Ending Portuguese rule in Goa
Operation Vijay, which took place in 1961, had one goal in mind — to end the 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa. The operation was orchestrated by Pandit Nehru after several failed attempts to drive the Portuguese away.
The operation saw the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force come together and lasted for 36 hours, following which Goa’s deposed governor-general Manuel António Vassalo e Silva officially surrendered to the Indian forces.
8. Indira Gandhi’s visit to Morbi
A dam on the Machhu river located in Morbi, Gujarat, collapsed in 1979 and found its name in the Guinness Book of Records as the worst dam burst. Killing 1,500 people and more than 13,000 animals, the incident took less than 15 minutes to flood the city.
The picture shows Indira Gandhi visiting the area at the time and covering her nose due to the foul smell.
9. India’s first communication satellite
In 1981, ISRO scientists were on the way to launching India’s first communication APPLE satellite from the Guiana Space Centre in France.
Former ISRO scientist R M Vasagam noted in one of his papers — “ISRO did not even have enough mainframe computers and the computing time needed for structural, thermal and mission analysis could be met only through our engineers availing the night hours at IISc, IIT Madras and TIFR. We were close to the point of transporting the satellite to Toulouse in France for final tests to be followed by launch from Kourou. But the solution was found in the above five hours and at a cost of Rs 150 for hiring the cart! APPLE was put on a bullock cart to provide a non-magnetic environment and to conduct the antenna test in an open field to remedy the TT&C link problem caused by impedance matching problem.”
10. World War I
During World War I, there was a massive death toll along with injured soldiers on the battlefield. To help the injured, wealthy individuals stepped up and began donating ambulances. They were soon joined by businesses, trade unions, companies, churches etc. Influential companies were involved in manufacturing the ambulances — like Rolls-Royce, Daimler, Albion, Morris, Vulcan, Wolseley, Siddeley-Deasy, Renault, Lanchester, Ford Model T, Fiat and Star.
(Edited by Pranita Bhat)