Independence Day 2017: On the eve of India’s 71st Independence Day, President Ram Nath paid rich tributes to founding fathers of the country. Extending his wishes to all citizens of the country, President Kovind said, “On August 15, 1947, we became a free nation. Sovereignty and the responsibility for our destiny moved from the British crown to the people of India. Some have called this process a “transfer of power”. He added, “It (independence) was much more than that. It was the culmination of a dream for our country – a dream seen by our forefathers and freedom fighters. We were free to imagine and build our nation anew.”
Kovind said that the “dream for a free India was rooted in our ordinary villages, in the well-being of our poor and underprivileged, and in the all-round development of our country.” And, “For this we owe so much to the countless freedom fighters who made great sacrifices to bring us here.”
Here is what President Ram Nath Kovind said about the founding fathers and freedom fighters:
- Chennamma, the Rani of Kittur. Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Matangini Hazra, the heroine and martyr of the Quit India Movement. There are so many examples.
- Matangini Hazra was an elderly woman, into her 70s. She was shot by the colonial police in Tamluk, in Bengal, while leading a peaceful protest march. She died with “Vande Mataram” on her lips and with the hope of a free India in her heart.
- Freedom fighters like Sardar Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Birsa Munda and thousands of others gave their lives for us. We can never forget them.
- From the earliest days of our freedom struggle, we were blessed with a galaxy of revolutionary leaders who guided our country.
- They spoke of not just political freedom. Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the moral character of India and of Indian society. The principles that Gandhiji spoke about are relevant even today.
- Gandhiji was not alone in this nationwide struggle for freedom and reform. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exhorted our people, saying: “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”. At his word, millions of Indians joined the freedom movement under his leadership and gave their all.
- Nehruji emphasised that India’s age-old heritage and traditions – so dear to us – could co-exist with technology and a quest to modernise our society.
- Sardar Patel instilled in us the importance of national unity and integrity. And of a disciplined national character.
- Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar urged upon us the virtues of constitutional governance, of the rule of law – and of the vital need for education.