Nation celebrates 72nd Independence Day

Modi claims his government pulled out the country from being considered a “fragile and risky” economy to being the fastest in the world

New Delhi: While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from Red Fort on the 72nd Independence Day, his fifth and final speech before general elections next year, leaders of different states also celebrated the event with pomp and fanfare on Wednesday.

Invoking the nation’s achievements, PM Modi said his government pulled out the country from being considered a “fragile and risky” economy to recording the fastest growth in the world.

Before his speech, Modi paid homage to father of the Indian nation Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. He unfurled the national flag, which was followed by the national anthem.

In his speech, Modi said the country was filled with confidence and scaling new heights.

“We are celebrating the 72nd Independence Day in a positive atmosphere. Our daughters have crossed seven seas and coloured the seas in the colours of our flag. When Indians go anywhere, all countries of the world welcome them. The power of the Indian passport has increased,” he said.

Hitting out at Congress, he said, “If we do not look at where we started, we will not be able to know how far we have come. If we take 2013 as the base year, you will be surprised to learn the pace of progress. The world used to talk about electricity blackouts, bottlenecks in India. Today it says the sleeping elephant has started walking.”

Before his Independence Day speech, PM Modi had invited suggestions from people on important issues including reservation system, rape, open defecation and education.

On Wednesday, President Ram Nath Kovind also paid tributes at soldiers’ memorial — Amar Jawan Jyoti — at India Gate. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa were also present.

In his televised address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, Kovind recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s “most noble mantra” on the power of non-violence.

“The power of non-violence is far greater than the power of violence. The power to stay your hand is far greater than the power to strike with your hand,” he said.

On Independence Day, police were put on high alert across the nation, particularly in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah unfurled the tricolor at their respective party headquarters in New Delhi.

Hindu fundamentalist outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat unfurled the tricolor at ‘Rashtrotthana Vidya Kendra’ in Karnataka’s Bengaluru.

Despite the rains, Independence Day was celebrated across Odisha with fervour.

Chief Minister (CM) Naveen Patnaik announced the start of ‘Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY)’, an universal health coverage scheme, in the state.

“The scheme would benefit seven million families in the state. It would be implemented with the cooperation of everyone using the state’s money,” he said.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also paid tribute to the nation. The state witnessed grand Independence Day celebrations on Red Road with police officers, members of the civil society and schoolchildren taking part in a parade.

In Punjab’s Amrtisar, a famous kite-maker created special kites with images of freedom fighters and top leaders to mark the day.

Delhi CM and his deputy Manish Sisodia also greeted the people on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day.

In a tweet in Hindi, Kejriwal said, “religion does not teach us to bear animosity among ourselves. We are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan.”

Sisodia stated that only political freedom did not make a country free.

“Let us remind ourselves on the occasion that a free country is not made up of only political freedom. Freedom from the fight of caste, religion and poor mentality against women is also a sign of freedom in a country,” he said.

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