Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

M Venkaiah Naidu

Dandi March

Dandi March

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

12 March 1930 is a date that marked a decisive, turning point in our country’s freedom struggle. On this unforgettable day, Gandhiji launched the historic civil disobedience movement in India, with the iconic Dandi Salt March.

Today, ninety-one years later, as a free, democratic India takes confident steps towards all-round development of its people and steps into the 75th year of independence, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’—a 75-week festival to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence. The Mahotsav commenced today with a padayatra from Sabarmati to Dandi over 25 days, culminating on 5th April, retracing the footsteps of Bapu during the historic ‘SaltMarch. This is indeed a befitting celebration of India’s hard-earned Independence and marks a unique way of mapping the nation’s eventful journey since Independence.

When Gandhiji began his famous Dandi March, he electrified the nation with a simple but powerful message using the symbol of salt, which established an instant connect with the masses. With an unwavering commitment to non-violence and an iron will to take what is rightfully ours, Gandhiji showed the British and the world that India will not bow down to force and repression. The DandiMarch showed us that if our thoughts and actions remain pure and in harmony with each other, we can achieve any goal we focus upon.

During the course of the Amrit Mahotsav festival, it is our solemn duty to remember and celebrate the extraordinary spirit of our freedom fighters, their supreme sacrifices, and their lofty ideals. We must educate our youth on the lives of our great heroes. They should know how thousands of courageous men and women of our great nation stood in the front lines of the freedom struggle and helped India overthrow the yoke of colonial rule.

As we enjoy the fruits of our independence, we must also understand that this vision of freedom is fully realized only when we achieve the goals and promises we have set for ourselves in the Constitution. We must objectively evaluate our journey so far and set sights on new frontiers.

At the time of independence, many had speculated about the resilience of India’s integrity, with its vast area and diverse cultures. India has proved them conclusively wrong. Our diversity and our common civilizational values actually give strength to the unity of the nation. We may come from various regions, we may speak different languages, we may belong to different communities—but the overriding truth is that we are fundamentally Indians. We believe in the liberty of the individual, the peaceful co-existence of communities and the universal brotherhood of people. This Bharatiyata is what keeps us united.

While fighting for our independence and drafting a Constitution for our nation, our leaders had a very broad vision that would go beyond merely creating a sovereign republic. Embedded in our constitutional values is a deep commitment to the development and welfare of our people. Governments, over the years, have taken up this onerous task of ensuring an ‘ease of living’ for all people. With schemes like Saubhagya Yojana, Ayushman Bharat and Kisan Samman Nidhi among several others, the Government is making every effort to ensure that the fruits of development reach everyone. It has also taken initiatives to boost the economic engine that will power and sustain this development. Good governance holds the key to enabling and empowering people. The governance model has evolved from a top-down and monolithic approach to a decentralized, citizen-centric, and participatory approach. A new layer to our federal structure—widespread, pro-active local governance, is taking Indian democracy to the grassroots.

Going forward, we must carry the same spirit and vow to forge a stronger and more prosperous India. While focusing on building an economically strong India, everyone should strive to promote social cohesion and endeavour to totally eradicate corruption and other evils like poverty, illiteracy, corruption, gender and social discrimination. That will be a real tribute to our freedom fighters.

For India to become more prosperous and stronger, it is of vital importance for the people, particularly the youngsters, to adopt a healthy lifestyle. We should also go back to civilizational roots, uphold universal values, remain environmentally-conscious and always live in harmony with nature. It is our duty to handover a greener and healthier planet to future generations.

Also, we must all resolve to be at the forefront to fight and foil attempts by forces that try to divide people on superficial grounds. We must focus on upskilling our youth to meet the new demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and realize our demographic dividend. It is our duty to include the marginalized sections—the differently-abled, women, elderly and transgender persons in our democratic process and enable them to partake of the benefits of development. We must ensure that every citizen has access to good education, health, employment and nutrition. We must strive to become AtmaNirbhar or self-reliant in all areas—that is the greatest tribute we can pay to our freedom fighters.

The 25 days of padayatra or marching together as a part of the Amrit Mahotsav starting today symbolizes our commitment to draw inspiration from the past and work together to meet the current and evolving challenges with single-minded devotion, courage and confidence.

The Mahotsav is yet another defining moment in our national journey, a moment of celebration, a moment of recollection of the illustrious legacy bequeathed to us by the Mahatma and the countless FreedomFighters. It is a moment to take the next steps with greater momentum towards a NewIndia that we all want- a country where each individual and community will be fully empowered and where all can realize their fullest potential.

I wish the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ a grand success. I urge our people to come forward in large numbers, participate pro-actively in the Mahotsav, strengthen the roots of our democratic republic and resolve to become equal partners in our shared future.

Jai Hind!