The rule of Britain over India officially ended 70 years ago, and this turbulent time in the history of India was the source of a recent anniversary. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, addressed the Indian nation on this Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
This day is also usually marked with a tradition between India and China of a customary Border Personnel Meeting. However, amid the issues involved with the Doklam standoff, this meeting did not occur. The Border Personnel Meeting traditionally happened on the national days of both countries and the meetings are held at five different points. This year, Beijing did not respond to communications from Delhi regarding the issue.
Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi unfurled the national flag at the Congress headquarters, saying that every Indian must unite and fight against separatism, terrorism, and all such forces that divide and spread hate.
“The need today is that all Indians in one voice should fight separatism, terrorism, and all such forces who divide and spread hatred in society, and unite to protect the basic principles of Indian-ness,” said Gandhi.
In his speech, the PM denounced violence in the name of faith and said casteism and communalism were “poison” for the country. His comments have significance in the face of the recent attacks by self-styled cow vigilantes against Dalits and Muslims. His speech this year was the shortest Independence Day speech in the four years that he was been the Prime Minister.
“I admire the courage of Muslim women who led the revolution against triple talaq. We are with them in their struggle,” said Modi, acknowledging the struggle of Muslim women dealing with this form of divorce practiced in India. A Muslim man can divorce his wife legally by pronouncing talaq, the Arabic word for divorce, three times. It has been a source of controversy and debates within the country. It has also raised the issues of justice, gender equality, and secularism in Indian society.
“Every one of the 1.2 billion will work towards a new India in 2022, to celebrate the 75th year of Independence. No one is small or big in our country,” said Modi. “This is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. There is no place for violence here. We will not tolerate violence in the name of faith. There can be no room for divisions. We have to move forward together.”
His speech included mention of various issues within the country, but ended on a positive note, focusing on the future, noting that those born in the 21st century will turn 18 next year and they were invited to write a new future for India.