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Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

New India: Shedding the Vestiges of Colonial Past

Posted On: 01 DEC 2022 2:22PM

On August 15, 2022, while addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s 76th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the 'Panch Praan' for the coming 25 years (Amrit Kaal). Elaborating on the second Praan, he said, “In no part of our existence, not even in the deepest corners of our mind or habits should there be any ounce of slavery. It should be nipped there itself. We have to liberate ourselves from the slavery mind set which is visible in innumerable things within and around us. This is our second Praan Shakti.”

The history of modern India is deeply entangled with two centuries of British colonialism, and decades after Independence, our nation has continued to carry its colonial baggage in various forms, some conspicuous, and some subtle. Over the past few years, the Government has slowly been steering India away from these vestiges of British rule, and a number of steps have been taken across several domains to firmly mark the identity of New India, truly freeing it from its colonial past.


Rajpath Renamed Kartavya Path

In line with his resolve for New India in Amrit Kaal to ‘remove any trace of colonial mindset’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 'Kartavya Path' in New Delhi on September 08, 2022. This change in nomenclature symbolises a shift from erstwhile Rajpath being an icon of power to the Kartavya Path being an example of public ownership and empowerment.


Statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Installed at India Gate

A huge statue of the national hero and freedom fighter, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, has been installed near India Gate, replacing the statue of King George V which stood there. “At the time of slavery, there was a statue of the representative of the British Raj. Today the country has also brought to life a modern, strong India by establishing the statue of Netaji at the same place,” said the Prime Minister, at the unveiling of the statue. The granite statue was installed in the same place where a hologram statue of Netaji had been unveiled earlier this year on Parakram Diwas (January 23) by the PM.


New Naval Ensign marking a departure from the colonial past

Resonant to the ongoing national endeavour to move away from colonial past, need was felt to transition to a new naval ensign that drew inspiration from our own rich cultural heritage. The previous ensign carried the Saint George’s Cross and was a successor to the pre-Independence ensign which had the red Cross on a white background with the Union Jack of the United Kingdom on the top left corner. The new ensign comprises two main constituents - the National Flag in the upper left canton, and a Navy Blue - Gold octagon at the centre of the fly side (away from the staff). The Prime Minister dedicated the Ensign to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who built a strong navy to secure the maritime borders, thus symbolizing the indigenous might of India.

Tunes with Indian fervour at the “Beating the Retreat” Ceremony


During Republic Day celebrations of 2022, a number of new tunes were added to the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony to celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. These include ‘Kerala’, ‘Hind ki Sena’ and ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’. The event came to a close with the ever-popular tune of ‘Sare Jahan se Acha. Indian musical instruments such as sitar, santoor, and tabla have also been added to the music ensemble. The retreat has thus been infused with an Indian flavour and patriotic fervour, to enable greater connect with the citizens.

Construction of National War Memorial (NWM) and merger of flames of Amar Jawan Jyoti and NWM

Constructed by the British to commemorate soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British in World War I, the India Gate (earlier known as the All India War Memorial) is a symbol of India’s colonial past. To mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was subsequently added at the above location as an ad-hoc arrangement, as the country did not have another memorial for Indian soldiers killed in wars. The National War Memorial, as a symbol of independent India, was inaugurated and dedicated to the Nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019. It houses the names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before and after it. The NWM is thus a memorial for all soldiers who have either laid down their lives or will do so in the future in the service of independent India. Since its inauguration, all homage and remembrance ceremonies are being conducted only at the NWM, including those on National Days. In the presence of a National War Memorial, it was therefore considered appropriate to shift the eternal flame to this new location as it is an appropriate tribute to have the flame stand in honour of all bravehearts.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands Renamed

On December 30, 2018, marking the 75th anniversary of the hoisting of Tricolour on Indian soil by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Ross Island would be renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep; Neil Island would be known as Shaheed Dweep; and Havelock Island would be renamed as Swaraj Dweep. These islands had been named after the British rulers even in independent India. The Government erased these signs of slavery by giving them Indian names and Indian identity.

Railway Budget merged with annual Union Budget

In yet another departure from British era practices, the Government merged the Rail Budget with the Union Budget from budget year 2017-18. The Railway Finances had been separated from General Finances in 1924 following the recommendations of the Acworth Committee (1920-21).

Revival of literary works banned during British rule


During India's struggle for Independence, many revolutionary pieces of literature were banned by the British Government, as these were considered 'dangerous' to the 'security' of their rule in India. This body of literature aimed at arousing patriotic feelings in the minds of the people and invoking them to rise up to free India. As part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, the Government has identified poems, writings and publications that the British Raj banned and put them together as a catalogue published by the National Archives of India. These unique collections, representing the feelings, aspirations and resolves of our freedom fighters, are available in various Indian languages.


Other Initiatives taken to Remove Colonial Vestiges:

  • The Government has renamed certain key roads whose original names were iconic to the British era.  
  1. The Race Course Road in Lutyen’s Delhi was renamed to Lok Kalyan Marg in 2016. Prime Minister's famous residential address 7, Race Course Road thus became 7, Lok Kalyan Marg.
  2. In 2017, Dalhousie Road was renamed Dara Shikoh Road.
  • In 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman broke away from a long-standing colonial era practice when she opted for the traditional Indian ‘Bahi Khata’ rather than the briefcase while presenting the Union Budget. The time and date of the presentation of the Indian Budget, which was following the times of the British Parliament for so many decades, have also been changed.
  • The youth of the country are being liberated from the compulsion of learning in foreign language through the National Education Policy, which lays stress on education in the mother tongue.
  • In the last eight years, the Government has repealed more than 1,500 archaic laws, most of which were remnants of the colonial British era. “In this Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, new laws should be made by abolishing the laws which have been going on from the time of slavery,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has highlighted.


India has entered a decisive phase, and is marching ahead rapidly towards a future marked by confidence and Aatmanirbharta. Freeing the country from the shackles of its colonial past will further secure the foundation of its sovereign identity as envisioned by the Constitution, and propel the nation forward with greater vigour as it charts new courses in the global arena.



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