76 th Independence Day of India
Celebration at Indian School Muscat
September 03, 2022
‘RECALLING THE TRUE MEANING OF FREEDOM
ON 75 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE’
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 Schools in Muscat,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Children,
I am delighted to join all of you today for yet another celebration of 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 Board Directors of Indian Schools Oman.
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.
I had the proud opportunity to address children of Indian schools at the function organized on Aug 15 in Indian School Bousher. My remarks today will be more or less on the same lines, and I request the indulgence of those who were present that day.
In Oman, we had an elaborate and grand celebration of the 75th Anniversary of India's Independence.
I had the distinct honor of hoisting the national flag at the Embassy in the presence of over 500 guests.
Two indigenously built Indian Naval Destroyers - Chennai and Kochi, anchored in Muscat on a special 4-day friendly visit from 14th to 17th August 2022, as part of the Indian Navy's initiative of deploying a naval vessel in each of the six continents for raising of the national flag on the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Muscat was one of these 6 unique chosen cities in the world, and the only place where not one but 2 Indian Naval ships dropped anchor for celebrating 75 years of our independence.
A special colors ceremony and a unique twin-deck reception were held onboard the ships to celebrate India's 75 years of Independence.
Students of Indian Schools in Muscat also joined hands to celebrate this joyous occasion in a glittering cultural event held at the Indian School, Boushar.
On the evening of 14th August, the Indian Social Club (ISC), in association with Indian Embassy, organized an exuberating cultural evening and on 18th August 2022, Indian Social club Salalah organized another mesmerizing cultural evening celebrating the spirit of AzaadiKaAmritMahotsav.
All the wings of the Indian Social club participated in these celebrations showcasing the diversity and richness of Indian culture.
Ladies, Gentlemen and students,
As our nation turned 75, there have been some momentous events with great symbolism.
Just yesterday, Prime Minister launched India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, making India a handful of countries with the capability to design and build a ship of this size and complexity, demonstrating the technological leaps we have taken in these 75 years.
The recent election of Smt. Droupadi Murmu ji as our President was yet another 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 on the Independence eve echoed with noble ideas and inspiring messages for the people of India, no matter whether resident in India or abroad.
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 at a time when we are celebrating 75 years of our freedom.
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 you 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 important 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.
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.
Our GDP has grown 10 times in the past 20 years and today we are the 5th largest economy in the world, 3rd in PPP terms.
From being burdened by chronic disease, we have managed to administer 2 billion doses of Covid vaccine in a mere 18 months and are recognized as the Pharmacy of the world.
Our exports have grown 600 times since independence, crossing 400 billion dollars in annual merchandise exports this year.
Our forex reserves have grown 335 times since independence and our food grain production is up 6 times, with India now a leading food exporter to the world.
From being a power deficit country, we today have over 400 GW of installed power capacity.
From a non-existent domestic aviation market we have grown to 3rd largest domestic aviation market in 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.
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.
No matter which parameter you look at, the picture is one of achievement despite all odds.
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."
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!