The following pictures are part of the ‘Generation 1947’ project by the Citizen’s Archive of India, spearheaded by Malvika Bhatia.

“Since I joined in 2017 to date, we have interviewed over 300 people born before Indian independence about their lives and the way they have seen India develop and change over the years,” she says.

1. A new age “You could study, have the same syllabus, sit for the same exams, but when you passed, you didn’t get a convocation. You got your degree by post. It was not a recognised thing,” recounts Mrs Mithoo Coorlawala who attended Newnham College at the University of Cambridge from 1938–1939.

“After a lot of agitation, they began to give degrees at convocation, the same as the men. So I went to celebrate 50 years of that.”

2. Bon voyage International trips, while a common feature today, were nothing short of luxury in the past. The joy of starting a new journey, the excitement of saying farewell to loved ones, and the eager anticipation of the adventure ahead all made the trip even more delightful.

Here is a page from Mrs Madhuri Bhatia’s sister’s diary as they set sail to Japan from Bombay in 1937.

3. Living to tell the tale Lt Rama Mehta (now Rama Khandwala), a ‘rani’ in the Azad Hind Fauj, narrated her experiences of being an eyewitness to World War II at Maymyo, Burma.

“My mother used to work for the Indian Independence League, so when Netaji started the Indian National Army, she became a recruiter for them, and immediately sent my sister and me to be trained in the Rani Jhansi Regiment,” she said.

4. A unique travelling style The picture is an ode to a time before the bridges were built for the Konkan Railway.

“The day after my wedding, my husband’s family was taken to visit Jog Falls. At one point they had to cross the Sharavati River. So everyone had to get out of the bus, and the bus was put on top of two boats and taken across,” Mrs Lata Sampat shares.

5. A photo that went down in history Wg Cmdr Jag Mohan Nath received his first Maha Vir Chakra in 1962 for his service in the war against China. He received the medal once more in 1965

“Wg Cmdr Nath told us that the photographer was a close friend, and told his sister, Rajmohini, to kiss the medal. The photograph became famous and has been featured in a number of newspaper articles over the years.”

6. An address lost in time The envelope dated July 1933 is addressed to Messrs Jeewandas and Co, Merchants, which today lies in Pakistan.

The mention of ‘Karachi, India’ is a simple yet stark reminder of the Partition of 1947 that forced millions to flee their homes.

7. A Republic Day memory Mr Kishore Desai, a keen photographer, watched the first Republic Day parade in Delhi and was able to photograph Dr Rajendra Prasad’s carriage.

“I remember they barely had any security then. The President and Prime Minister would travel with a pilot motorcyclist at the most. I saw them on many occasions on the streets of Delhi,” he said.

8. A slice of history with your tea Mr Kartar Singh recounted to The Citizens’ Archive of India how the British introduced tea to India.

“I remember I would go to Man Singh Road – Tughlaq Road. They had a stall there, where they would distribute biscuits and cups of tea. For us, the tea was just an excuse to eat the biscuits.” He added that the biscuits were given for free to cultivate a tea-drinking habit among Indians.