India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has today called for the country to move forward and create a “New India”, as part of his Independence Day address.
Events to mark the country’s 71st Independence Day are taking place across India, the UK and around the world.
Speaking at the Red Fort in New Delhi, Mr Modi paid tribute to the great women and men who worked hard for India’s freedom, adding that by working together, positive change was possible.
He said: “Our united resolve, strength and determination to work hard remembering the memory of our great patriots will help us to build an India of their dreams by 2022. Therefore, we have to take the country forward with a pledge to build a New India.
“Let all of us march together with the dream of building an India of grandeur and majesty as we wait for the 75th year of independence.
“With this thought in mind I once again bow my head before the heroes of our freedom movement. I bow my head before the new confidence and passion of my 125 crore countrymen and I call upon Team India to march on with this new pledge.”
Udaipur-based dance company SADA has produced a patriotic film to celebrate the occasion. Shot in and around Udaipur’s City Palace, the music video is a cover of Maa Tujhe Salaam by AR Rahman.
The video features a guest appearance from Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar, and highlights the beauty of Udaipur along with the talent and vitality of its citizens.
Shriji said everyone has a role to play in helping shape India’s future.
He said: “As the country comes together to celebrate India’s 70th year of independence, it’s right that we should take pride in our many achievements and the great progress made. India is changing at a rapid pace, with important advances being made in everything from education and health to women’s rights. Hard work has made this change possible, but there is still much to do.
“We’re a country with a rich heritage and culture, and it’s vital that we both recognise and strive to protect that legacy. As we move forward with time and build our future so must we cherish and preserve our past.
“Now is the time to unite in peace and harmony to celebrate Indian independence, while remembering that it is incumbent upon us all to take ownership of our country’s future. I’m confident that the people of India will continue to work tirelessly to create hope and prosperity for generations to come.”
In London, more than 500 people gathered at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square at the stroke of midnight. Cheering and waving flags, the group then ran for a mile through the capital’s streets to the Indian High Commission at India Place as part of the first ever Freedom Run.
Mr Y. K. Sinha, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, got the event underway. According to a report by news agency PTI, he said the run was organised to symbolise the country’s fight for freedom from corruption and poverty.
“We celebrate the massive achievements and great strides that India has made in the last seven decades,” said Mr Sinha.
“We wanted to do something symbolic and different to mark this milestone. And what could be more symbolic than a run from Parliament Square opposite Big Ben to the Indian High Commission with such a large crowd of enthusiastic Indians.”
Senior British cabinet minister Priti Patel, secretary of state for international development, marked the day by saying Britain and India would share a great future.
“As India celebrates its 70th year of independence, it can be proud of the remarkable developments driven by the incredible passion and spirit of its people,” she said.
“India has grown into the world’s largest democracy, engaging people across the country in great political debate and securing India’s place as a global leader in the 21st Century”.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson also extended his “warmest wishes to the people of India and the British Indian community”.
He said: “The United Kingdom and India share a deep and longstanding partnership, rooted in the 1.5 million British Indian diaspora in the UK who contribute so richly to our society. Our two countries are committed to working together to promote our people’s prosperity, improve global security and tackle the global challenges that we face today.
“Through the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture, we have celebrated the strength of UK-India ties, from our shared history, values, culture and language. Whilst today is an opportunity to reflect on India’s success over the past 70 years, it is also a chance to look ahead at a bright future for both our countries, supported by the flourishing ties between the people of India and the UK.”