Between gaining independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947 and the proclamation of a republic on 26 January 1950, India was an independent dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations with king George VI as its head of state. Although the country shared its head of state with the United Kingdom, it was a fully sovereign independent state. It was created by the Indian Independence Act 1947 and was transformed into the Republic of India by the promulgation of the Constitution of India in 1950.

The king was represented by the Governor-General of India. However, the governor-general was not designated viceroy, as had been customary under the British Raj. The office of Viceroy was abolished on Indian independence. Two governors-general held office in India between independence and its transformation into a republic: Lord Mountbatten of Burma (1947–48) and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1948–50). Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister of India throughout this period.

History

Partition of India

The Partition of British India on 15 August 1947[9] led to the creation of two sovereign states, both dominions: Pakistan (which later split into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh in 1971) and India (later the Republic of India) India received 82.5% of the total munitions, arms, and transport from the combined military of the Raj, and 70% of the manpower.

Since the 1920s the Indian independence movement had been demanding Poorna Swaraj (complete self-rule) for the Indian nation and the establishment of the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan was a major victory for the Swarajis. Nevertheless, the Partition was controversial among the people, and resulted in significant political instability and displacement.[10]

Aftermath

Most of the 552 princely states within Indian territory acceded to the Dominion of India due to the work of the civil servant V. P. Menon. The Hindu-majority Junagadh State located in modern-day Gujarat attempted to accede to Pakistan under the Muslim Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III. It was annexed militarily by the Indian government. Similarly, the State of Hyderabad sought to remain independent and was also annexed by India in 1948.[10]

Conflict with Pakistan

The newly created states of Pakistan and India both joined the Commonwealth, a platform for cooperation between the countries that had been part of the British Empire. Nevertheless, they soon found themselves at war beginning in October 1947, over the contested princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani militants entered the state, alarming Maharaja Hari Singh who appealed to India for military intervention, in exchange for the signing of the Instrument of Accession and annexation into India. The region is contested to this day and two other Indo-Pakistan wars occurred as part of the Kashmir conflict.[10]

Hostilities and Mahatma Gandhi's attempt to reconcile the two nations via a fast led to his assassination in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, further increasing tensions between the two new states.

The Dominion of India began working towards a constitution based on liberal democracy immediately after independence.

Republic of India

The Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution of India, drafted by a committee headed by B. R. Ambedkar, on 26 November 1949. India became a federal, democratic republic after its constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950, henceforth celebrated as Republic Day. The governmental structure was similar to that of the United Kingdom but within a federal system. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India.

Government

Monarchy

The sovereign and head of state of the dominion of India was a hereditary monarch, George VI, who was also the sovereign of the United Kingdom and the other dominions in the British Commonwealth of Nations. His constitutional roles were mostly carried out by the Governor-General of India. The royal succession was governed by the Act of Settlement 1701.

The monarchy was abolished on 26 January 1950, when India became a republic within the Commonwealth, the first Commonwealth country to do so.

List of monarchs

The King in relation to independent India held the following official style and titles:

  • 15 August 1947 to 22 June 1948: His Majesty George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India[3]
  • 22 June 1948 to 26 January 1950: His Majesty George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith [5]
House of Windsor
PortraitNameBirthDeathMonarch FromMonarch UntilRelationship with Predecessor(s)
King George VI14 December 18956 February 195215 August 194726 January 1950Son of George V, Emperor of India

List of Governors-General

Name
(birth–death)
PictureTook officeLeft officeAppointer
Governors-General India, 1947–1950
The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
(1900–1979)
15 August 194721 June 1948George VI
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
(1878–1972)
21 June 194826 January 1950

List of Prime Ministers

Name
(birth–death); constituency
PortraitParty
(Alliance)
Term of office[11]Elections
(Lok Sabha)
Council of
Ministers
Appointed by
1Jawaharlal Nehru
(1889–1964)
MP for Phulpur
Indian National Congress15 August
1947
26 January
1950
Nehru ILord Mountbatten

See also