Present on the dais, Governor of Gujarat Shri Acharya Dev Vrat ji, Chief Minister Shri Vijay Rupani ji, my colleague in the Union Council of Ministers, Shri Prahlad Patel ji, my fellow Parliamentarian in the Lok Sabha, Shri C.R. Patil ji, the newly elected Mayor of Ahmedabad, Shri Kirit Singh Bhai, trustee of Sabarmati Trust, Shri Kartikeya Sarabhai ji and respected Amrit Modi ji who has dedicated his life to Sabarmati Ashram, all the dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen and my young colleagues from across the country!
Today, when I left Delhi in the morning, it was a very wonderful coincidence. Ahead of the Amrit Festival, rains and Sun God graced the country’s capital. It is the privilege of all of us that we are becoming witness to this historic period of independent India. We are witnessing the history being created on the land of karma of Bapu on the anniversary of the Dandi Yatra today and also becoming a part of history. Today is the first day of the Amrit Festival of Independence. Amrit Festival started today 75 weeks before August 15, 2022 and will continue till 15th August 2023. It is believed in our country that when such an occasion comes, there is confluence of all the pilgrimages. As a nation, it is like a solemn occasion. So many sacrosanct centres of our freedom struggle are being connected with the Sabarmati Ashram today.
This Amrit festival is starting today simultaneously at a number of places, including Andaman's Cellular Jail, which salutes the apogee of the freedom struggle, the land of Kekar Monying in Arunachal Pradesh, which is witness to the Anglo-Indian War, the August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai, Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab, and Meerut, Kakori and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. It appears as if the countless struggles of freedom, innumerable sacrifices and the energy of legion atonements are being reawakened together all over India. I pay my floral tributes to Bapu on this sacred occasion. I respectfully salute everybody who sacrificed his life for the freedom struggle and all the great personalities who led the country. I also salute all the brave soldiers who, even after independence, kept the tradition of national security alive, made supreme sacrifices for the defence of the country and were martyred. I also bow down to all those virtuous souls who have laid each and every brick of progress in the reconstruction of a free India and brought the country to the fore in 75 years.
When we imagine the period of servitude when millions of people waited for the dawn of independence for centuries, the realization grows as to how historic the occasion of 75 years of freedom is and how glorious it is. The festival also has a tradition of eternal India, shadow of the freedom struggle, and the privileged progress of independent India. Therefore, the presentation that has been put before you now has special emphasis on five pillars of the Amrit Festival. These five pillars -- Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75 and Resolves at 75 -- will inspire the dreams and duties of a free India to move forward. Based on these messages, the 'Amrit Festival' website as well as Charkha Abhiyan and Atmanirbhar incubator have also been launched today.
Brothers and sisters,
History is witness to the fact that the glory of a nation remains conscious only when it teaches the next generation of the traditions of self-esteem and sacrifice, and inspires them continuously. The future of a nation is bright only when it is associated with the pride of its past experiences and heritage. And India has a profound repository to take pride, a rich history and a conscious cultural heritage. Therefore, this occasion of 75 years of independence will be like an elixir for the present generation -- an elixir that will inspire us to live for the country and to do something for the country every moment.
It is written in our Vedas: मृत्योः मुक्षीय मामृतात् (free from death into immortality) i.e., we should move towards immortality leaving behind sorrow, distress, tribulation and destruction. This is also the resolution of this Amrit Festival of Independence. The Azadi Amrit Mahotsav means elixir of energy of independence; elixir of inspirations of the warriors of freedom struggle; elixir of new ideas and pledges; and elixir of Aatmnirbharta. Therefore, this Mahotsav is a festival of awakening of the nation; festival of fulfilling the dream of good governance; and the festival of global peace and development.
Amrit Festival is being inaugurated on the day to mark Dandi Yatra. A yatra (journey) to revive that historic moment is also getting flagged off shortly. It is a wonderful coincidence that the impact and message of the Dandi Yatra is the same as the country is moving forward through the Amrit Festival today. This one yatra of Gandhi ji was an inspiration to the freedom struggle which led the masses to join it. This one yatra had spread India's perspective on its independence to the whole world. It was historic because Bapu's Dandi yatra included the insistence of freedom as well as the nature and ethos of India.
Salt was never valued on the basis of mere cost. For us, salt represents honesty, trust and loyalty. We still say that we have eaten the salt of the country. It is not because salt is very precious. It is so because salt represents labour and equality. Salt during that time was a symbol of India’s self-reliance. The British hurt not only the values of India, but this self-reliance as well. People of India had to depend on salt coming from England. Gandhi ji understood this chronic pain of the country; understood the pulse of the people and turned that into a movement of every Indian and it became a resolution of every Indian.
Similarly, there are inspirations and messages from different battles and events in the freedom struggle which India can imbibe and move forward. The freedom struggle of 1857, the return of Mahatma Gandhi from abroad, reminding the nation of the power of Satyagraha, the call for complete independence by Lokmanya Tilak, the Azad Hind Fauj's Delhi March under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the slogan of Dilli Chalo which India cannot forget even today. The unforgettable movement of 1942, the declaration of the British Quit India, there are so many countless milestones that we take inspiration and energy from. There are so many spirited fighters to whom the country expresses its gratitude every day.
Be the daring Mangal Pandey and Tatya Tope of the 1857 Revolution, the fearless Rani Lakshmibai who fought against the British army, Rani Chennamma of Kittur, Rani Gaidinliu, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Ashfaqulla Khan, Guru Ram Singh, Titus ji, Paul Ramasamy, or countless leaders of the masses like Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, Maulana Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Veer Savarkar! All these great personalities are the pioneers of the freedom movement. Today, we are taking collective resolve and inspiration from them to make India of their dreams.
There are so many agitations and battles during our freedom struggle which did not find the mention as should have been. Each one of these struggles are powerful declarations of truth by India against falsehood itself, evidence of India's independent nature. These battles are testimony to the fact that India's consciousness against injustice, exploitation and violence, which was there in the age of Rama, was in the Kurukshetra of Mahabharata, in the battlefield of Haldighati, in the war cry of Shivaji, and the same eternal consciousness, the same indomitable valour, was ignited by every region, section and society of India within itself in the fight for freedom. The mantra of जननि जन्मभूमिश्च, स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी (Mother and motherland are superior even to Heaven) continues to inspire us today.
Whether it is the Kol uprising or Ho movement, Khasi agitation or Santhal revolution, the Cachar Naga agitation or the Kuka movement, the Bhil movement or the Munda Kranti, the Sanyasi Movement or the Ramosi uprising, the Kittur movement, the Travancore movement, the Bardoli Satyagraha, the Champaran Satyagraha, the Sambalpur conflict, the Chuar rebellion, the Bundel movement… There were so many such agitations and movements which kept the flame of freedom ignited during every period in every part of the country. In the meantime, our Sikh Guru tradition gave us new energy, inspiration, renunciation and sacrifice to protect the culture and customs of the country. There is another important aspect which we should remember ever.
Our saints, Acharyas and teachers continued to awaken this flame of the freedom movement, in east-west, north, south; in every direction and in every region. In a way, the Bhakti movement prepared the stage for the nationwide freedom movement. In the east, the ideas of saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramakrishna Paramhans and Srimanta Sankardev gave direction to the society and focused on their goals. In the west, Mirabai, Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas, Narsi Mehta, in the north, Sant Ramananda, Kabirdas, Goswami Tulsidas, Soordas, Guru Nanak Dev, Sant Raidas, in the south Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya, Ramanujacharya, during the Bhakti period, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Raskhan, Soordas, Keshavdas, Vidyapati, inspired the society to rectify their shortcomings.
It was because of many such personalities that this movement crossed the boundaries and embraced all the people of India. During these innumerable freedom movements, there are so many fighters, saints, souls, many brave martyrs whose every saga is a golden chapter in history! We have to take the life history of these great heroes to the masses. The life stories of these people, the struggle of their lives and the ups and downs of our freedom movement will teach our present generation every lesson of life. They will have better understanding regarding solidarity, the tenacity to achieve goals and every colour of life.
Brothers and sisters,
You would recall how Shyamji Krishna Verma, the brave son of this land, struggled for freedom under the nose of the British till the last breath of his life. But it took seven decades before his mortal remains could find the lap of the Bharat Mata. Finally, I carried the mortal remains of Shyam ji Krishna Verma from abroad in 2003. There are so many fighters who have sacrificed everything for the country. There are so many Dalits, Adivasis, women and youth from across the country who have made innumerable sacrifices. Recall the 32-year-old young man of Tamil Nadu, Kodi Katha Kumaran, who did not let the country's flag fall on the ground even while shot in the head by the British. Tamil Nadu is associated with Kodi Katha which means protector of the flag. Velu Nachiyar of Tamil Nadu was the first queen who fought against the British rule.
Similarly, the tribal society of our country brought the foreign power to its knees several times with its valor and bravery. In Jharkhand, Birsa Munda challenged the British and the Murmu brothers led the Santhal movement. In Odisha, while Chakra Bisoi waged a war against the British, Laxman Nayak spread awareness through Gandhian methods. In Andhra Pradesh, Manyam Virudu and Alluri Siraram Raju led the Rampa movement and Pasaltha Khungchera who took on the British in the hills of Mizoram. Other freedom fighters from Assam and Northeast like Gomdhar Konwar, Lachit Borphukan and Serat Sing contributed to the independence of the country. How can the country forget the sacrifice of Nayak tribals in Jambughoda in Gujarat and the massacre of hundreds of tribals led by Govind Guru in Mangadh? The country will always remember their sacrifices.
The history of such brave sons of Mother Bharati is in every village and in every nook and corner of the country. The country has been making a conscious effort for the last six years to preserve this history, in every state and every region. The country had completed the renovation of place connected with the Dandi March in just two years. I had the privilege to go to Dandi on that occasion. The site where Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose hoisted the tricolor in Andaman after the formation of the country's first independent government has also been revived. The islands of Andaman and Nicobar have been named after the freedom struggle. On completion of 75 years of the Azad Hind government, a function was also held at the Red Fort where the tricolour was hoisted and tributes were paid to Netaji Subhas Babu. The world's tallest statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat is spreading his immortal glory across the world. The memorials in Jallianwala Bagh and the Paika movement have also been developed. The places associated with Babasaheb, which had been forgotten for decades, have also been developed by the country as ‘Panchtirtha’. At the same time, the country has initiated an effort to build museums in the country to bring the history of tribal freedom fighters and stories of their struggles to the fore for the future generations.
Like the history of the freedom movement, the journey of 75 years after independence is a reflection of the hard work, innovation, enterprise of ordinary Indians. Whether in the country or abroad, we Indians have proved ourselves with our hard work. We are proud of our Constitution. We are proud of our democratic traditions. The mother of democracy, India is still moving forward by strengthening democracy. India, rich in knowledge and science, is leaving its mark from Mars to the moon. Today, the strength of the Indian Army is immense and economically also, we are progressing fast. Today, India's startup ecosystem has become a centre of attraction in the world, is a matter of discussion. Today, India's potential and talent are echoed on every platform in the world. Today, India is moving out of the darkness of scarcity to meet the aspirations of more than 130 crore people.
It is also the privilege of all of us that we are celebrating the 75 years of independent India and the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose together. This confluence is a wonderful combination not only of dates but also of India's vision of the past and future. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose said that India's freedom struggle is not only against British imperialism but against global imperialism. Netaji described India's independence as essential for the entire humanity. Over time, this statement of Netaji was proven correct. When India became independent, the voices of freedom were raised in other countries and in a very short time, the scope of imperialism was reduced. And, friends, India's achievements are not just our own, but they are going to enlighten the whole world and to awaken hope of the whole humanity. Our development journey with India's self-sufficiency is going to speed up the development journey of the whole world.
It has been proved during the Corona period. India's self-sufficiency in vaccine manufacturing is benefiting the whole world today, lifting humanity out of the pandemic crisis. Today, India has the power of vaccine and we are working to relieve the misery of all in the spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family). We have not given grief to anyone, but we are trying to reduce the sufferings of others. This is the ideal and the eternal philosophy of India and it is also the philosophy of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Today, the countries across the world are thanking India, trusting in India. This is the first hue of the sunrise of the new India, the first aura of our grand future.
In the Gita, Lord Krishna has said -- ‘सम-दुःख-सुखम् धीरम् सः अमृतत्वाय कल्पते’ i.e., those who remain steady even in happiness and distress become eligible for liberation and attain immortality. This is our inspiration of getting the nectar of India's bright future from Amrit Festival. Let us all be determined to play our role in this nation's yagna.
During the Azadi Amrit Mahotsav, innumerable ideas will emerge from the suggestions of the countrymen and their original ideas. On my way here, there were several things in my mind. Public participation, connecting the masses and every citizen of the country should be part of this Amrit Festival. For example, all schools and colleges should compile 75 incidents related to independence. Every school should decide to compile 75 incidents of independence, create 75 groups, which can have have 800-2,000 students.
One school can do it. The children of our Shishu Mandir and Bal Mandir can make a list 75 great men associated with the freedom movement, prepare their costumes, utter their speeches, and there should be a competition and 75 places associated with the freedom movement should be identified on the map of India. Children should be asked where is Bardoli or Champaran? I would urge students of law colleges to find 75 incidents of legal war which continued simultaneously during the independence struggle. Who were the people fighting the legal battle? What kinds of efforts were made to save the heroes of freedom? What was the attitude of the British Empire towards the judiciary?
We can compile all these things. Those who are interested in plays should write plays. The students of fine arts should make paintings on those events and those who want to write songs should write poems. All these should be handwritten at the outset. Later, it can be stored digitally. I would like the efforts of every school and college to become the heritage of their educational institutions. Attempt should be made to complete it before 15th August this year. You see, a complete idea-based establishment will be prepared. Later, competitions at district, state and country levels can also be organized.
Our youth and scholars should take up the responsibility to fulfill the country's efforts in writing the history of our freedom fighters, to bring the achievements of our society during and after the freedom movement prominently before the world. I would also urge the people associated with art, literature, drama, film and digital entertainment to explore the unique stories of our past and bring them to life for the future generations. Our youth have to take the responsibility of building the future by learning from the past. Make efforts how to make the future better in whatever field you are in, be it science, technology, medical, politics, art or culture.
I am sure the 130 crore countrymen will be inspired by millions of freedom fighters when they join this Amrit Festival of Independence. India will achieve the tallest goals. If every Indian takes a step for the country and society, the country takes 130 crore steps further. India will once again become self-reliant and provide a new direction to the world. I wish all the best to all those who are taking part in this Dandi Yatra. It is starting today at a small scale without any frills. But as the days go on and we approach the 15th of August, it will envelop the entire India. I am sure it will become a huge festival. It will be the resolve of every citizen, institution and organization to take the country forward. This will be the best way to pay homage to the heroes of freedom.
With these best wishes, I thank all of you. Say with me
Bharat Mata Ki – Jai! Bharat Mata Ki – Jai! Bharat Mata Ki – Jai!
Vande – Mataram! Vande – Mataram! Vande – Mataram!
Jai Hind – Jai Hind! Jai Hind – Jai Hind! Jai Hind – Jai Hind!