Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Independence Day ! - Address to the Nation

My dear brothers and sisters,

It fills me with great pride to stand before you and present my hearty congratulations on our Independence Day. It is now 67 years since our founding fathers unfurled the tricolor from the ramparts of this historic edifice that has been a silent witness to many an empire. Until the 15th August, 1947, never had the people of these lands the right to determine their destiny by themselves. The Maurya, the Gupta, the Tughlaq, the Mogul, even the British have all laid claim to this right…but never the Indian. Until 15th August, 1947 and democracy was established.

Every Independence Day is not a day to relax, but a day to reflect. On what has been and what could have been accomplished. There comes a day to step back from the monotony of daily work and imagine the endless possibilities that we, as children of the same nation, can achieve if only we work together. That day is today.

Trials and failure are the ingredients in nation-building. Every country has her share of nay-sayers, critics and confounders. We too have fundamental differences and shortcomings. Despite worshipping the female form, we continue to record abhorrent atrocities against women. This is unacceptable. Discrimination in the form of caste, creed and religion continues to blot our glorious record of a civilization that has always embraced the persecuted and the defenseless. Corruption has been and shall always remain India’s No.1 enemy. The grim battle against it continues, and at this Kurukshetra the judiciary, the executive and the aspirations of our people are aligned with the legislature. We shall prevail although success will not be quick.

To brood over the dark spots of the year gone by is an easy recipe for cynicism and a delight for the obstructionist forces in our path. Over the last year we have continued our march to progress. I am pleased to report that our investments in Science and Technology have continued unabated. Your government unveiled new centers of higher learning and focused on delivering skills to young India. Your government has unveiled a roadmap for delivering food security to the urban and rural poor, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Tribal affairs continue to be a core theme in the societal targets of your government. “The people are the prize”- this core tenet continues to guide us in the darkness of the forests of Dandakaranya. While we continue with our efforts to enforce the rule of law in these areas, we must remember to face up to the aspirations of our tribal brothers and sisters and pursue industrial development bearing in mind key environmental considerations. Other nations in the world have trodden this path successfully, and India shall too.

We continue to face global headwinds in the form of muted growth and the implications of easy monetary policies by international governments. Coupled with the cost of domestic development programs, the Indian rupee has been impacted and fallen in value during the last year. We continue to believe that a situation of benign inflation is the best possible foundation for private and public enterprises to pursue growth. Accordingly, while the long-term focus on a healthy ratio between consumption and investment remains, your government has taken the prudent step of a higher interest rate regime to beat back inflationary trends. We remain committed to ensuring that food prices are within reach of the common man. Indian industry has been supported through aggressive de-bottlenecking of investment regulations and simplifying approval procedures which we are sure, will provide the necessary confidence in the security of capital investments. We remain open to a constructive dialogue on further reform measures with all stakeholders.

Your government has taken a key step towards promoting Indian industry with the unveiling of INS Vikrant, which has been designed and manufactured in India. This approach has yielded considerable cost savings and thousands of jobs to our domestic work force. This government is committed to increasing indigenization, while ensuring our brave jawans have the necessary infrastructural support and quality equipment to perform their vital service to the nation.

Let this Independence Day be one of personal reflection – how can you, as a member of this vast family, contribute to a better India? This government believes that when each Indian is given the ability to achieve his/her aspirations in full is the true meaning of freedom achieved. India is a shining beacon of democracy to Asia, nay the entire world. This has been achieved only when the masses that make India have held their elected representatives to account.

Shortly, our great nation will commence the process of deciding her political future. It remains my wish that all Indians take the time to consider the future of our children above petty considerations of ideology or monetary gain and vote for their chosen representatives. This is a cherished right for which our freedom fighters have shed blood. Let this great power not go to waste, and may Indians never lose faith in our perhaps flawed but peerless democratic set-up.

With these few words, I thank you all for your time today, and again congratulate all Indians settled around the globe a very happy Independence Day.

Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!