Take nation to new heights
I offer my greetings to all Indians on the eve of our 73rd Independence Day. This is a happy and emotional day for all children of Mother India, whether living at home or abroad. We remember with gratitude the countless freedom fighters and revolutionaries who struggled, strived and made heroic sacrifices to win us our freedom from colonial rule. We complete 72 years as a free nation at a very special juncture.
In a few weeks from now, on October 2nd, we will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, the guiding light of our successful effort to liberate our nation and of our continuing effort to reform our society of all inequities. Contemporary India is very different from the India in which Mahatma Gandhi lived and worked. Even so, Gandhiji remains extremely relevant. In his advocacy of sustainability, ecological sensitivity and living in harmony with nature, he anticipated pressing challenges of our times.
When we design and deliver welfare programmes for our disadvantaged fellow citizens and families, when we seek to harness the power of the sun as renewable energy, we put Gandhian philosophy into action. This year also marks the 550th birth anniversary of one of the greatest, wisest and most influential Indians of all time – Guru Nanak Devji. He was the founder of Sikhism, but the reverence and respect he commands go far beyond just our Sikh brothers and sisters. They extend to millions of others in India and across the world.
My best wishes to them on this pious occasion. The illustrious generation that led us to freedom did not perceive independence only in terms of transfer of political power. They considered it a stepping stone in a longer and larger process of nation building and national welding. Their objective was to improve the life of each individual, each family and of society as a whole. Earlier this summer, the people of India participated in the 17th general election, the largest democratic exercise in human history. For this I must congratulate our voters.
They turned up at polling stations in large numbers and with much enthusiasm. They gave expression to their electoral right as well as their electoral responsibility. Every election marks a new beginning. Every election is the renewal of India’s collective hope and optimism – a hope and optimism that can be compared, I would say, to what we experienced on August 15, 1947. Now it is for all of us, everybody in India, to work together and take our cherished nation to new heights. We are a young country, a society increasingly defined and shaped by our youth.
The energies of our young are being channelised in so many directions – in a quest for excellence from sport to science, from scholarship to soft skills. This is heart-warming. Nevertheless, the greatest gift we can give our young and our coming generations is to encourage and institutionalise a culture of curiosity – especially in the classroom. Let us listen to our children – for through them the future whispers to us.
I say this with the confidence and belief that India will never lose its capacity to listen to the feeblest voice; that it will never lose sight of its ancient ideals; that it will forget neither its sense of fairness nor its sense of adventure. We Indians are a people who dare to explore the moon and Mars. We are also a people who persevere to create a loving habitat for three of every four wild tigers on our planet, because it is characteristic of Indianness to empathise with nature and with all living beings.
May those ideals and may that urge to learn and to listen and to become better, may that curiosity and may that fraternalism, always be with us. May it always bless us, and always bless India. With that, I once more wish you and your families all the very best on the eve of Independence Day.