Today is most certainly a day of happiness and pride for us. We are proud of our freedom. We are proud of our democracy. We are proud of our values and ideals. But we should also remember that it has taken the sacrifices of lakhs of Indians to bring us where we are today. Our well being and progress have been built upon the foundation of the hard work and sacrifices of our freedom fighters, the brave jawans of our armed forces, our farmers, our workers and our scientists. Today, we remember all those martyrs who laid down their lives for the freedom and security of our country.
The best way of paying homage to those brave sons of our country will be to resolve today that we will always stay committed to strengthening the unity and integrity of our nation. Let us all together take a vow that we will spare no effort to take India to greater heights. In the early hours of the 15th of August, 1947, when our nation had just become Independent, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru spoke to the nation and asked us all one important question on the very first day we became a free country: “Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future? Today, my fellow citizens, I stand here once again and ask you that same question. Are we ready to face the challenge of the future? Are we brave enough, to do so, and wise enough, in doing so? Can we rediscover the ideas and ideals that shaped our freedom struggle, and use them to take our country forward into the future? Are we willing to show the courage and the wisdom that Panditji wanted us to show in building a new India in a new world?
At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance….. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again. If we are unable to quote our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech in verbatim, the gist of comprehending this speech can surely ignite a strong passion of patriotism.
Not many of us, young Indians have ever bothered brushing up on our old, dusty pages on books of Indian history, for their lies a world so different from modern India soaked with unspoken figures of deaths of innumerable Indians who died for our sake in the hands of our oppressors so that we can lead the plush, comfortable lives of luxury that we are now living. However, not many of us even realize that our country , India, is the greatest model to world and the first country ever to win independence through non-violence under the able leadership of the charismatic leader of our time, Mahatma Gandhiji.
Our Indian history like our vibrant culture of so many diversities in terms of religion, culture and traditional values can be a large canvass to depict our origins which has provided accommodation to change like no other country in this world. No country in the world can boast of such a cultural amalgamation. The Day of Indian Independence is a day of celebration for every Indian to commemorate our jubilant victory over the British who ruled our country for nearly three centuries. It is to this success that every Indian stands up, chin held up with pride and salutes one another Jai Hind to mark 64th anniversary of Indian victory.
We do feel a sense of satisfaction that on many fronts we have done well. Yet, we are aware that there is much more to be done. We have moved forward in the many battles against poverty, ignorance and disease. But can we say we have won the war? We have been able to step up the rate of growth. But can we say we are satisfied with the pace? Even after years of development and rising growth rates, why have we not been able to banish mass poverty and provide employment to all? Why do some regions of the country continue to lag behind?
I ask these questions not to belittle our achievements, but to inspire us to greater effort. I ask not to make you feel dispirited, but to enthuse you to march forward. Today we enter the 60th year of our Independence. Today we re-dedicate ourselves to the progress and prosperity of our nation. To the welfare of all our people. To the unity and integrity of our country. The going has never been as good for India in the past as it is now. Our economy has been growing at an impressive pace of over 8 per cent. Such rapid growth over three successive years is unprecedented in Indian history.
Wherever I go, I see our nation on the move. Our industry and services sectors are showing impressive growth. I see a reassuring confidence in our industry in being able to take on the challenge of the rest of the world. The growth of the manufacturing industry has touched 11 per cent in the last quarter, generating many jobs for our youth and workers. I see our service sector competing with the best and earning valuable foreign exchange. All around us, we see new roads being built. The railways are expanding their reach. New power plants are being built. New airports are being planned.
Vast industrial estates and Special Economic Zones are coming up. This dynamism is the result of the enterprise, creativity and hard work of millions of Indians. They are boldly taking our country into the future, treading on untrodden paths. India is certainly on the march. Yet, we have miles to go before we can truly say that we have made our tryst with destiny. Sixty years ago, Panditji told us that the two challenges before a free India was to end the ancient scourge of poverty, ignorance and disease and end the inequality of opportunity. Our natural resources are limited.
We must use them more efficiently. We need a new culture of energy conservation. We also need to prevent the misuse of water. We will pay more attention to programmes for water collection and storage. “Save Water” should be one of our national slogans. If we work united, we can meet all challenges that confront us. Our citizens have the right to express dissent and anger. I also maintain that every government should be sensitive to people’s complaints and dissatisfaction. But nothing is achieved by destroying public property and indulging in violence against one’s fellow citizens.
Our democracy has no place for those who resort to violence to express their disagreement, and the government will deal firmly with such people. Terrorism has emerged as a threat to peace and harmony in all parts of the world. After the horrific terror attacks in Mumbai in last November, our government has taken many steps against terrorism. To root out terrorist activities, our security forces and intelligence agencies are being constantly upgraded. I am sure that with cooperation from all sections of our society, we will be successful in eliminating terrorism from our country.