In­dia cel­e­brates 66 years of In­de­pen­dence


[ By R. Chan­drakanth ]

It was at the Red Fort in Delhi, the first In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Pan­dit Jawa­har­lal Nehru un­furled In­dia’s national flag on Au­gust 15, 1947, cel­e­brat­ing freedom from Bri­tish rule. Since then, In­de­pen­dence Day fes­tiv­i­ties have been syn­ony­mous with the Prime Min­is­ter hoist­ing the tri­colour (national flag) at the Red Fort and the na­tion pay­ing homage to all those who laid down their lives win­ning in­de­pen­dence for us. This year too, In­dia cel­e­brated its 67th In­de­pen­dence Day on Au­gust 15 with great fer­vour, but amidst tight se­cu­rity ar­range­ments. Re­mind­ing the na­tion of the sac­ri­fices of soldiers and oth­ers, the Pres­i­dent of In­dia, Pranab Mukher­jee while de­liv­er­ing the “Ad­dress to the Na­tion” on the eve of In­de­pen­dence Day said, “I ap­plaud the courage and hero­ism of our se­cu­rity and armed forces who main­tain eter­nal vig­i­lance, and pay homage to those who have made the supreme sac­ri­fice of the most pre­cious gift of life in the ser­vice of the mother­land.”

“We have seen in the re­cent past grave chal­lenges to our se­cu­rity, in­ter­nal as well as ex­ter­nal. The bar­baric face of Maoist vi­o­lence in Ch­hat­tis­garh led to a loss of many in­no­cent lives. De­spite In­dia’s con­sis­tent ef­forts to build friendly re­la­tions with neigh­bours, there have been ten­sions on the bor­der and re­peated vi­o­la­tions of the cease­fire on the line of con­trol, lead­ing to tragic loss of lives. Our com­mit­ment to peace is un­fail­ing but even our pa­tience has lim­its. All steps nec­es­sary to en­sure in­ter­nal se­cu­rity and pro­tect the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of the na­tion will be taken.”

De­liv­er­ing his In­de­pen­dence Day ad­dress, Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh, said, “To­day is cer­tainly a day of joy for us. But on this cel­e­bra­tion of in­de­pen­dence we also feel pain in our hearts that our broth­ers and sis­ters in Ut­tarak­hand had to face dev­as­ta­tion about two months back. Our deep­est sym­pa­thies are with all the fam­i­lies that suf­fered loss of life or prop­erty. I want to as­sure the peo­ple of Ut­tarak­hand to­day that the whole coun­try stands with them in this mo­ment of cri­sis. Our govern­ment is work­ing with all the re­sources at its com­mand to re­ha­bil­i­tate those whose houses have been de­stroyed and re­build dam­aged in­fra­struc­ture.

“Our Army, para­mil­i­tary forces and nu­mer­ous of­fi­cers and staff of the Cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments worked in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions in part­ner­ship with the com­mon peo­ple to per­form an out­stand­ing task in pro­vid­ing re­lief to those who were stranded. We es­pe­cially pay homage to the of­fi­cers and men of the Air Force, Indo-Ti­betan Bor­der Po­lice (ITBP) and National Disas­ter Re­sponse Force (NDRF) who sac­ri­ficed their lives to save oth­ers.

“We are also deeply pained that we lost the sub­ma­rine, INS Sin­durak­shak in an ac­ci­dent yes­ter­day. Eigh­teen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives. The ac­ci­dent is all the more painful be­cause the Navy had re­cently achieved two ma­jor suc­cesses in the form of its first nu­clear sub­ma­rine, INS Ari­hant and the air­craft car­rier, INS Vikrant. We pay homage to the brave hearts we have lost. We also con­grat­u­late the Navy on its suc­cesses.”

“Coun­tries to­day are more in­te­grated with each other than ever be­fore. We have en­deav­oured that our for­eign pol­icy ex­ploits this fully to In­dia’s ben­e­fit. In the last nine years, there has been a con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in our re­la­tions with the ma­jor pow­ers of the world. Our ‘Look East’ pol­icy in re­spect of 10 ASEAN coun­tries in East and South-East Asia has borne good re­sults, es­pe­cially in eco­nomic mat­ters. We have also strived for friend­ship with our neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. How­ever, for re­la­tions with Pak­istan to im­prove, it is es­sen­tial that they pre­vent the use of their ter­ri­tory and ter­ri­tory un­der their con­trol for any anti-In­dia ac­tiv­ity.

“There has been im­prove­ment in the area of national se­cu­rity also. De­spite some wor­ri­some com­mu­nal in­ci­dents in 2012 and this year, the last nine years have been good for com­mu­nal har­mony. There has been a re­duc­tion in ter­ror­ist and naxal vi­o­lence also. How­ever, the area of national se­cu­rity calls for con­stant vigil. We have not been suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing naxal at­tacks that hap­pen from time to time. The naxal vi­o­lence in Ch­hatis­garh on 25 May was a frontal at­tack on our democ­racy. Re­cently, there was a das­tardly at­tack on our Jawans on the line of con­trol with Pak­istan. We will take all pos­si­ble steps to pre­vent such in­ci­dents in the fu­ture.”

Singh said that ev­ery decade af­ter in­de­pen­dence has wit­nessed ma­jor changes in our coun­try and we need to think to­day what changes we would like to see in the decade ahead.

“If in the fu­ture we can achieve the same kind of progress as in the last decade, the day is not far off when In­dia will be rid of poverty, hunger, dis­ease and ig­no­rance. Our In­dia will be pros­per­ous and all its cit­i­zens will be equal part­ners in this pros­per­ity, ir­re­spec­tive of their re­li­gion, caste, re­gion or lan­guage. We will also need to build an en­vi­ron­ment of po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, so­cial co­he­sion and se­cu­rity for this to hap­pen.”

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