On this day: Historic events that occurred on 2 February


Each day in the calendar is equally important for those who study the past and 2 February is no different. On this day in 1990, the ban on Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was lifted by then South African President F.W. de Klerk. On the very same day in 1971, Idi Amin declared himself the president of Uganda, starting a regime that was known for its brutality. Under his rule, about 300,000 people were killed, as per the Encyclopaedia Britannica, with Amin earning the nickname “The Butcher of Uganda”. Without further ado, let us take a look at historic events that took place on 2 February:

1835: Macaulay’s Minute on Indian education presented

As the British rule in India solidified in the 19th century, one of the key factors before the colonial rulers was whether the local population should be educated in their native languages or in English. Thomas Babington, better known as Lord Macaulay, was firmly in favour of English becoming the medium of instruction in India. On 2 February, Macaulay, who was the president of the Committee of Public Instruction, circulated a minute on the topic, advocating for western education in India. He said that making English the medium of education would create “a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect”. Macaulay’s words won over the community and then Governor General William Bentinck signed the English Education Act of 1835 a month later.

1915: Khushwant Singh born

Born on 2 February 1915 in Punjab’s Hadali (now in present-day Pakistan), Khushwant Singh made his place in the hearts of millions of readers with his literary works. His famous novels include Train to Pakistan, Khushwantnama and Delhi: A Novel. The writer breathed his last in 2014.

1943: Battle of Stalingrad ended

One of the most pivotal battles of World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad (present-day Volgograd) came to an end when the German troops surrendered before the Soviet Union. The battle, which began on 22 August 1942, is regarded as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Second World War, with the Modern War Institute estimating the total death toll at approximately 1.2 million.

1971: Idi Amin assumed the presidency of Uganda

Military officer Idi Amin declared himself the president of Uganda just days after he assumed power in a coup. Under his rule, all Asians were expelled from the country in 1972. He was also responsible for allegedly ordering the persecution of several ethnic groups in Uganda like the Lango, Acholi and others. In 1978, he ordered an attack on Tanzania, which proved to be fatal for his rule. Tanzanian-led forces, aided by Ugandan nationalists, succeeded in ending Amin’s brutal rule. He fled to Libya, and later Saudi Arabia, where he spent the rest of his life.

1990: Ban on African National Congress lifted

The 30-year-ban on the ANC was lifted by then South African President F.W. de Klerk. This ultimately resulted in Nelson Mandela’s release from jail and the end of the apartheid regime in the country.

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On this day: Historic events that occurred on 2 February
On this day: Historic events that occurred on 2 February
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