Auckland, August 15, 2020
August 15 marks the 74th Independence Day for India but unfortunately, public celebrations will not be held in India or in other parts of the world in view of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
New Zealand will perhaps be among very few countries where limited festivities may be held, except Auckland, which moved to Alert Level 3 three days ago fearing a second wave of the virus.
The spirit of Indian Independence will undoubtedly be in the hearts of men and women as they remember those who fought for the country’s freedom in the past century.
Indians born in India will recall the festivities that they would have attended as students and adults, and try to instil pride among their children and grandchildren.
Indians perhaps understand independence and appreciate its value better than anyone else in the world; for, it was obtained after protracted struggle and the right to express is constantly practiced, even on empty stomach.
Such is the passion for individual liberty that for 73 years the country and its people have constantly battled forces of division and derision, intransigence and indifference and violence and vituperation.
Paradox and irony
They have done so with such scorn and contempt that people from other parts of the world (including those of Indian origin) are often baffled at the paradox and irony that form a part of the Indian psyche.
To a country of billion plus people, the day on which their leaders brought political freedom from alien rule, we say, “Congratulations! You richly deserved it.”
We have always believed that to be an Indian is unique and to be a New Zealander Indian is a privilege that is accorded to a chosen few.
Although it is more than seven decades since India became a free country with its own Constitution, Legislatures and Judiciary, the tumultuous years of the Freedom Movement and the sacrifices of thousands of people suffering foreign rule are still recalled at festivities held at educational institutions and other venues in India and overseas.
Undoubtedly, India faces serious challenges, some of them threatening political and economic balance. The country has shown its resilience in overcoming these over the years. But the most important and most difficult challenge is to bring about a shift in the mindset on social issues. The ‘Common Minimum Programme’ that was mooted in the 1980s needs a revisit to revitalise the societal fabric and make it reflect the basic characteristic of India as a tolerant, secular and developing country.
India has always followed the path of ‘Ahimsa’ or Non-Violence and it has never been an aggressive country. On the contrary, it has been a victim of infiltration and unlawful occupation by its neighbours.
India has been a victim of terrorist attacks long before 9/11 but unlike some others, it did not wreak vengeance on perpetrators. Its nuclear programme is based on self-defence and primarily for peaceful purposes such as power generation and space exploration.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands for a New India which reaches out to countries and people in a spirit of cooperation for universal benefit. Since taking oath of office on May 26, 2016, he has visited almost 50 countries, establishing a personal rapport with world leaders. His overseas trips have had three major objectives, namely, to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), engaging the 20 million strong Indian Diaspora and seeking India’s greater participation in regional and international forums as a Member.
About the Indian National Flag
The Indian National Flag is one of the most respected flags in the world. The Tri-Colour Flag, always made of Khadi, symbolises courage and sacrifice (represented by Saffron), honesty, peace and purity (White); faith and chivalry, dignified by prosperity, vibrancy and life; and the Ashoka Chara or ‘The Wheel of Law’ with 24 spokes, that appears on a number of edits of Ashok the Great who ruled almost all of the Indian Sub-Continent from 268 BC to 232 BC.