Dear Fellow Citizens engaged in the task of nation building
My greetings to you as we complete 70 years of our
Our country will be celebrating its 71st Independence Day
tomorrow. On the eve of this anniversary I extend my good
wishes to all of you.
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”.
It 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.
It is crucial to understand that this 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
For this we owe so much to the countless freedom fighters who
made great sacrifices to bring us here.
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
From the earliest days of our freedom struggle, we were
blessed with a galaxy of revolutionary leaders who guided our
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
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.
I have given only a few examples of illustrious leaders. I could
give you many more. The generation that brought us to
freedom was diverse. They were men and women who
represented all parts of our country and a variety of political and