We, as one people, have witnessed grim trials and jubilant victories, from the abyss of invasions to the celebration of independence, from threats to our sovereignty to the liberalisation of an economy, from communal riots to the inter-religious marriages, from the vile of terror to the sweet satisfaction of poverty alleviation, from looting of our immense wealth to the fastest growing economy in our world.

We, the people, have saluted countless coffins of those receiving the last respects of a grateful people. We turned 69 today. Few days mean so much to the existence of a people, as does today. An idea of democracy was fertilised in the seed that cemented our common ideals.It gave voice to a restless youth. It rendered meaningful the ambition, the passion for freedom. It personified our absolute abhorrence of injustice.

Those are the core ideals of a people that our brave freedom fighters died for. To protect the health of those without wealth, to seek an equal opportunity of all irrespective of our caste, colour, creed, clothing and cuisine. To seek that precious, often elusive, balance between security which is too often threatened and human rights which are too often denied.

History is not the exclusive burden of any one generation alone but a continuous arc that bends towards our shared goals of fairness, justice and prosperity of our people. We, today, are called upon to bear a special share of that burden, to resist the lucrative temptations that seek to divide us and stand firm on the ideals that have held us together all these yeas so that we bequeath a better future to those that come after us.

Yes, we have different opinions. Yes, we are argumentative. Yes, we have diversity. But there is a unity, a common creed, in that diversity. We are all connected. Despite all the commonplace cynicism and divisiveness that tells us our future is bleak, the progress we have made in the last 69 years as a people gives me an abiding hope and faith in the future.


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