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'The true meaning of the privilege of Freedom' Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang at the Function at Indian School Bousher to commemorate 75 years of India's Independence Aug 15, 2022

Posted on: August 16, 2022 | Back | Print

76th Independence Day of India
Celebration at Indian School Bousher
August 15, 2022

Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang 

Chairman and Members of Board of Directors of Indian Schools in Oman,

Members of the School Management Committee, Principal, teachers and students of Indian School Bousher,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaskar,

I am delighted to join all of you today to celebrate 75 glorious years of India’s independence.

Let me at the outset congratulate all students who have and who are presenting their prodigious talents in this excellent program put together by the school management.

Celebrating 75 years of our nation’s independence is a uniquely special occasion, a moment that does not come too many times in an individual’s lifetime. As we do so, we should remember the extraordinary significance of this moment and cherish it.

Earlier in the day, I had the honor of hoisting the national flag, our beloved Tiranga at the Embassy premises. The feeling of pride and joy swelling in the heart as the tricolor goes up and touches the sky cannot be described in words.

As is also customary, I also had the privilege of reading out extracts of the address to the nation by our Rashtrapati ji.

As you all know, the recent election of Smt. Droupadi Murmu ji as our President is a landmark in the journey of our nation, imbued with multiple symbolisms.

The fact that as we commence 76th year in our national journey, we have as our Commander-in-Chief a daughter of India hailing from a poor tribal family in east India, is not just testimony to the ideals of social justice of the Indian republic, but an apt metaphor for our journey as an independent nation.

Her maiden address to the nation last night echoed with noble ideas and inspiring messages for the people of India, no matter whether resident in India or abroad.

She recalled the sacrifices of those who made independence possible and also noted that Indian democracy has taken roots and thrived despite skeptical projections by experts.

Noting the toil and sacrifices of generations of Indians that has made possible dramatic changes in the life of our nation, she particularly exhorted the youth, i.e. all of you, to take charge of India’s next 25 years and take India to new heights by the time we celebrate the centenary of our independence.

Dear Children,

We all know what happened 75 years ago. A proud nation was born, unshackling the chains of colonialism and breaking free from centuries of foreign domination. To put it simply, India won freedom.

A simple word: freedom, but laden with so many meanings, suffused with so many perspectives.

I want to ask you. What is freedom?

You may think it strange for me to be asking this silly sounding question on Independence Day, the day that stands for freedom itself.

But I want you to pause for a moment and reflect. 

What is really meant by freedom? What did generations of patriotic Indians and freedom fighters live and die for? 

What did we achieve on the midnight of August 15, 1947? What is this tryst with destiny all about?

To help mull over this question, I will give a 3-pronged matrix.

Think of freedom in terms of ‘from’, ‘of’ and ‘for’.

In other words, 

Freedom ‘from’ what? 

Freedom ‘of’ what? 

And Freedom ‘for’ what?

Each of these lenses will lead you to important perspectives of freedom, each worthy of your understanding.

The first one is the simplest…or is it?

We got freedom from British colonial rule, from foreign occupation, from imperial domination. This bit is the easiest to comprehend and relate to.

But this simple lens also hides a deeper meaning.

After all, we cannot just relate August 15 1947 with political freedom.

Along with political freedom, equally important was our collective pledge to walk the path of social reform and justice. In this context, this freedom was also freedom from dilapidated and antiquated social structures, deeply ingrained dogma and ossified tradition, all of which were holding back our true potential.

As we sought to build a new political structure based on democracy, equality and equity, it was a freedom from feudalism, freedom from patriarchy, freedom from discrimination and freedom from obscurantism.

What is the freedom ‘of’?

Quite clearly, freedom of deciding our own fate, our own future. 

The new nation was sovereign. An independent actor on the world stage. And the people of India were now masters of their destiny.

We also gained the freedom to decide our internal structures – political, economic and social.

With political freedom, also came freedom of the individual, anchored in the Constitution in the form of hallowed ideas such as freedom of thought, of belief, of association, of movement. The gaining and guaranteeing of these freedoms is arguably more significant than political freedom itself, for without them the freedom of the nation would have remained hollow.

Finally, the most lens. Freedom ‘for’ what?

And it is here that the journey of our nation these past 75 years comes into focus.

What have we done with the freedom we gained on 15 Aug 1947?

The freedom we gained was for giving every Indian, no matter the religion, region, caste, belief, gender, language or culture, an equal stake in the Indian nation. 

This may seem self-evident but was in fact a tremendous leap of faith for a fledgling nation, just out of colonial rule. 

As Rashtrapati ji has noted in her address, India’s embrace of full democracy – both political and social - was a revolutionary idea, much ahead of its times.

The freedom was also for rekindling our civilizational ethos – our culture, our values, our principles and in doing so enabling India to regain her rightful place on the world stage.

The freedom was for creating and nurturing an egalitarian society in which education and hard work is the only ladder to success.

The freedom was for ending chronic poverty, unleashing the creative talents of our youth, bringing basic amenities to the doorstep of every Indian, enabling rapid economic progress and development.

It is only when we fully comprehend the true value of our freedom, can we truly cherish it. 

I hope the 3 lenses I have suggested will help you appreciate the blessing of freedom and the privilege of being born in a free country.

Children,

The 75 years of our national journey is a matter of pride for all of us. 

We have indeed come a long way from when we started.

From being a poor country with mass illiteracy, we are today among the top 5 largest and one of the fastest growing major economies of the world.

From being burdened by disease, to administering 2 billion doses of Covid vaccine in a mere 18 months and recognized as the Pharmacy of the world.

From being dependent on food imports to feed its population, to becoming one of the leading food exporters to the entire world

From a non-existent manufacturing base, to crossing 400 billion dollars in annual merchandise exports

At over 18 million, today the Indian diaspora, to which you belong, is the largest diaspora population of any country, living and thriving all over the world.

With over 100 Unicorns, India is now the Start-up capital of the world and leading the world in IT and digital financial inclusion.

While there is no doubt that we still have challenges to overcome and a long way still to go to become a developed economy, there is equally no doubt that today we can hold our heads high with pride with the journey so far.

Speaking of the future, you may not have been deeply involved with nation building in the past 75 years, but the next 25 till we reach out centenary are certainly yours.

Your talent, your hard work, your diligence and your vision will decide where India will be when she turns 100.

In this era of knowledge and innovation, your pen, or perhaps more aptly in your case, your mouse and keypad will be your weapons to conquer the world.

As you go on to build a better future for humankind – which I have no doubt you will – remember your debt to your motherland. Remember to give back for the freedom you inherited.

And while you do so, I will remind you to bear in mind what Gandhiji said.

Gandhi ji gave us a beautiful talisman, a mantra, a guidepost for what you should or should not do.

The talisman is worth reading in full, and I will read it for you.

Gandhi ji said, and I quote:

"I will give you a talisman. 

Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. 

Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. 

Will he [she] gain anything by it? 

Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? 

In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?

Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

Unquote.

This was one of the last notes left by Gandhi ji, and one of the most profound.

If your actions in the years ahead, come close to bringing freedom to your fellow Indians and helping the nation realize its full potential, then you would have lived up to Gandhi ji’s ideals.

Till then, as Swami Vivekananda said 

“Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”

Thank you.

Jai Hind! 








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