The Rediff Special/President K R Narayanan
'The greatest achievement of India since Independence has been
the establishment of a democratic system of government and politics'
President K R Narayanan's address to the special midnight session of Parliament:
This midnight hour, thronged with memories of the past and
throbbing with significance for the future, is a golden moment in
the history of India and the world. Fifty years ago at this very
moment a new age of freedom dawned for India, and as Jawaharlal
Nehru put it, ''the soul of a nation, long suppressed, found
On the fiftieth anniversary of this historic event, it is my
privilege to extend to all Indians throughout the length and
breadth of the motherland, and to all Indian nationals living
abroad, my heartiest greetings and felicitations. I also send my
greetings to the brave soldiers of our armed forces who stand guard
over the remote frontiers of our land. At this moment of
midnight, let us bow our heads to Bharat Mata, whose children we
are, and take a vow to serve her and the people of India regardless
of caste, class or creed, religion, language or region.
On this solemn occasion we remember the countless men and women,
the peasants, workers and the youth of India, who suffered untold
hardships and sacrificed, their careers and even their lives for the
freedom and Independence of the nation. We pay our homage to
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, to Netaji Subhas Chandra
Bose and the Indian National Army and the great men like Jawaharlal
Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul
Kalam Azad and a galaxy of others.
We also remember and pay our
tribute to the founding fathers of our Constitution and the
chairman of its drafting committee, Babasaheb Dr B R Ambedkar, who
championed the cause of the down-trodden and the most exploited
classes of people in our society, and who reminded us in the
Constituent Assembly that ''social and economic democracy are the
tissue and the fibre of political democracy.''
At this moment we cannot forget the tragedy and the trauma of
Partition that cast a shadow on the first Independence celebrations,
but as Nehru said on the occasion ''...The past is over and it is
the future that beckons to us now.'' That future seems to have now
arrived with India playing its part in co-operation systems in South
Asia, Asia and the world.
It is pertinent to reflect and ask on this occasion what we have
achieved as a nation during the half century of our Independence,
and what have been our short-comings and failures. I have no
hesitation in telling you, my fellow citizens, that our achievements
have succeeded in maintaining the unity of the nation and kept this
vast country together.
It is for the first time in our history that
we have been able to put an economic content into the dream of unity
that has haunted the mind of India over the ages and establish
economic ties of inter-dependence between the diverse parts of the
country. It is by clinging to our cultural values and our traditions
of tolerance, to our composite culture and secularism, and to our
economic and social development programmes, that we can maintain
our unity. It is from this domestic base that our armed forces
defended with valour the territorial integrity of the country
during the last five decades.
The greatest achievement of India since Independence has been
the establishment of a democratic system of government and politics.
Indian democracy is the product of a complexity of factors. Several
strands of thought and experience have gone into it: Western
liberal and parliamentary ideas, socialist concepts, the deeply
rooted traditions of India both Hindu and Buddhist, and the ideas
and methods propagated by Mahatma Gandhi like the panchayat system
and democratic decentralisation.
In the inter-play and inter-
penetration of these ideas and methods a distinctly
Indian variety of democracy has been in the making that is not only important to
India but relevant to the new world of pluralism that is emerging.
Besides, the revolutionary implications of universal adult suffrage
that we adopted are unfolding themselves today. The lower and
poorer sections of society and the women are being drawn into the
political system as active players. The time is overdue for meeting
the aspirations of these sections of society, particularly the
women, for their economic and political empowerment.
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