Following is the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's speech on Independence Day: My dear fellow citizens, Brothers, sisters and dear children, I greet you all on this Independence Day.
Today is certainly a day of joy for us. But on this celebration of independence we also feel pain in our hearts that our brothers and sisters in Uttarakhand had to face devastation about two months back.
Our deepest sympathies are with all the families that suffered loss of life or property. I want to assure the people of Uttarakhand today that the whole country stands with them in this moment of crisis. Our government is working with all the resources at its command to rehabilitate those whose houses have been destroyed and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
Our army, paramilitary forces and numerous officers and staff of the Central and State governments worked in difficult conditions in partnership with the common people to perform an outstanding task in providing relief to those who were stranded.
We especially pay homage to the officers and men of the Air Force, ITBP and NDRF who sacrificed their lives to save others.
We are also deeply pained that we lost the submarine, INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives. The accident is all the more painful because the Navy had recently achieved two major successes in the form of its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant and the aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.
We pay homage to the brave hearts we have lost. We also congratulate the Navy on its successes.
Brothers and Sisters,
We achieved independence in 1947 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.If we look at our subsequent journey, we would find that our country has seen major changes every ten years.
In the decade beginning 1950, India took its first steps as a democratic republic under the leadership of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. We established institutions like the Atomic Energy Commission, Planning Commission and Election Commission, which went on to make a major contribution to the processes of nation building in later years. The first general elections were conducted and a beginning was made towards the formulation of the First Five Year Plan for socio-economic development of the country.
In the sixties, Pandit Nehru set up new industries and factories, implemented new irrigation projects and opened new universities. By laying emphasis on the role of science and technology in nation building he started the work of transforming this ancient country into a modern nation.
In the seventies, Indiraji boosted our confidence as a nation. During this period, we launched our first satellite in space. The Green Revolution enabled us to be self sufficient in food grains for the first time.
In the next decade, Rajiv Gandhi ji set into motion the process of technological and economic modernisation. The foundation for the progress we later made in the area of information technology was laid during this period. The importance of Panchayati Raj Institutions was emphasized and this later resulted in amendments to our Constitutions for strengthening and empowering these institutions.
In the year 1991, under the leadership of Shri Narsimha Rao, we successfully negotiated a major economic crisis and embraced reforms for strengthening our economy. These reforms were opposed by many political parties at that time. But the reforms were in national interest and were therefore continued by all governments that came to power subsequently. Since then, the reform process has continually moved forward.
I believe that the last decade has also been a decade of major changes in the history of our nation. In no other decade has our economic development increased as much as in this decade.
Democratic forces have been strengthened and many sections of our society have joined the mainstream of development for the first time. The common man has been given new rights which have led to his social and economic empowerment.
Brothers and Sisters,
The first UPA government came to power in May 2004. Ever since, we have worked with sincerity and honesty to build a progressive and modern India.
We have envisioned a prosperous India. An India which has got rid of centuries old burden of poverty, hunger and disease. Where the light of education has driven away the darkness of ignorance and superstition.
Where there is social equality and all citizens enjoy equal economic opportunity. Where no section of the society faces injustice and exploitation.
We have dreamt of an India where the youth get employment opportunities that enable them to contribute to the noble endeavour of nation building.
We have strived for India's voice to be heard loud and clear at the international level. We have strived to build a nation that is looked at with respect and honour by the whole world.
We have taken many measures to realise these dreams. But the journey is long and a large distance still remains to be travelled.