(Privacy debate in India: This is a one of the most thoughtful and analytical write ups on the issue of privacy in recent times. It is being presented here for the advantage of students)
With the Supreme Court set to rule on privacy, India is on the cusp of constitutional history. The nine-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar determining whether a fundamental right to privacy exists is only the 15th time in the Supreme Court’s history that such a large Bench has convened. There is no escaping the enormity of this constitutional moment — these nine judges will definitively shape the evolution of our Constitution. What is at stake is nothing less than the terms of a fundamental relationship between us — citizens of a constitutional democracy — and the state.
When Aadhaar was initially challenged in 2015, the Union of India argued that we had no right to privacy. That claim does not merit a response. Now, joined by some States, it mounts the slightly better argument that a right to privacy must not be declared because it is an expansive right without clear boundaries. It also argues that there is no need to declare privacy as a separate right because the phrase ‘personal liberty’ in Article 21 already covers it. This article responds to these arguments by returning to the Supreme Court’s own decisions and to first principles of adjudicating constitutional rights.
Tending our rights
Since the Supreme Court began defending fundamental rights in 1950, it has displayed a deep commitment to preserving the right to ‘life’ under Article 21. Over time, it has tended this right with great care and has declared that it guarantees a right to food, shelter, education, health and clean environment. However, the companion right in Article 21 — to ‘personal liberty’ — has not fared so well. By comparison, it is an anaemic and stultified right, relied on by courts only when unavoidable, and even then only in the narrowest possible terms.
Like many constitutional courts across the world, the Indian Supreme Court often recognises unenumerated rights — those which are not included in the Constitution’s text — as being part of the fundamental rights that are written into the Constitution. As citizens of a democracy in whose service the Constitution and the government exist, surely we must welcome expansive rights. All constitutions, including India’s, are intended to maximise citizens’ freedoms and tightly restrain the government’s capacity to curtail them.
In India’s own constitutional history, we have seen that all rights travel the same path to being declared so fundamental that the Constitution and courts must defend them. Take a right that is much like the right to privacy in our instinctive understanding of its importance, and in its location at the very heart of ‘personal liberty’ in Article 21: the right against torture. Like ‘privacy’, the word ‘torture’ does not appear in Article 21. Like ‘privacy’, the word ‘torture’ is not obviously included in the narrow understanding of ‘personal liberty’ as protection against being restrained without good cause.
As the Supreme Court began to confront the rampant use of torture as a tool for investigating crimes, it began acknowledging the need for constitutional protections. In 1980, for example, Justice Krishna Iyer said: “We are deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture resulting in a terrible scare in the minds of common citizens that their lives and liberty are under a new peril…”
In 1996, in DK Basu v. State of West Bengal , the Court finally acknowledged that while torture might have been acceptable historically, it was no longer conscionable in law or morals. The court converted this recognition into a guarantee that citizens could claim against the police by giving it a name — the ‘right against torture’ — and declaring that it flows from Article 21’s guarantee of ‘personal liberty’. But it did not stop at simply declaring this right. As unprecedented forms of interrogation often aided by new technology became prevalent, it expanded the right’s scope to retain its efficacy in the face of this change. In 2010, three judges ruled categorically in Selvi v. State of Karnatakathat ‘torture’ must include not only physical torture as most earlier cases had done, but also mental torture.
The ‘freedom of speech and expression’ in Article 19(1)(a) travels the same path. Even though it never uses the word, the Supreme Court was very quick in its early years to say that this right covers the press. Where early cases related to ‘speech’ in newspapers or magazines, the right now embraces such diverse activities as communicating digitally ( Shreya Singhal v. Union of India ) and expressing gender identities ( NALSA v. Union of India ).
The arcs of the right against torture and Article 19(1)(a) point to a fatal flaw in the claim that there is no need to declare the right to privacy since it is already a part of personal liberty. Various fundamental rights share with the right to privacy the characteristic of being specific forms of liberty. Allowing such an argument would reduce much of Part III — the heart and soul of the Constitution — to no more than an exercise in redundancy. Rather, rights are declared because they protect a value acknowledged as important and distinctive enough to merit constitutional force.
Privacy follows the same logic. It is only once the court affirms the obvious position that a fundamental right to privacy exists that we can turn to considering the legitimacy of the government’s actions in infringing upon it. The Union’s argument that the privacy right is incapable of definition is disingenuous. All rights, however seemingly precise, see contests about where their boundaries lie. Invariably, they all evolve and expand over time. This is an aspect of constitutional adjudication that we must embrace. Constitutions, including rights, must be capable of responding to contemporary challenges.
A range of concerns
Even standing alone, a right to privacy embraces a wide range of things — from preventing the state from watching us without cause, to affirming that we can form and choose our identities, to deciding what information about us is collected by the state using the force of the law and how that information is processed and made available to whom. Each of these facets of privacy raises different concerns and places different burdens on the state to justify intrusions. We cannot simultaneously recognise privacy’s importance and also say that it ought not to be named and treated as such.
Lumping everything into ‘personal liberty’ flips the relationship between individuals and the state on its head. In effect, it demands that persons injured by a privacy violation establish every single time that they have a right, rather than focussing on demanding explanations from the state in court.
Naming and declaring a right has powerful consequences. In democratic orders like ours, our rights are only as strong as our capacity to assert them. Recognising the right is the first step in opening up the possibility of it trickling down into the people’s consciousness. As governments and technologies become increasingly intrusive, the people of this country must be empowered to safeguard their interests. Irrespective of the outcome, these nine judges will make constitutional history. What is far more important is that they have the opportunity to empower each and every person in India with a right that lies at the very core of personal liberty.
(Ujwala Uppaluri is a graduate of NUJS Kolkata and Harvard Law School)
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Doklam or Zhoglam also known as Donglang in China, is an area with a plateau and a valley, lying between Tibet’s Chumbi Valley to the north, Bhutan’s Ha Valley to the east and India’s Sikkim state to the west. It has been depicted as part of Bhutan in the Bhutanese maps since 1961, but it is also claimed by China. To date, the dispute has not been resolved after 24 rounds of border negotiations between Bhutan and China. The area is of strategic importance to all three countries.
In June 2017 a military standoff occurred between China and India as China attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau southwards near the Doka La pass. Bhutan has formally objected to China’s road construction in the disputed area. China, citing the 1890 China-Britain treaty, calls Doklam its own while Bhutan has disputed it saying the convention applies to the India-Bhutan border, not Bhutan and China. In June 2017, India accused China of constructing a road in the disputed territory towards Doklam plateau, an objection that the Royal Bhutanese Army has also raised. India intervened in the crisis supporting Bhutan’s stand and asking China to halt its construction work. China claims Doklam plateau, an 89 sq km pasture that falls close to Chumbi valley at the corner of India-Bhutan-China tri-junction and is not very far from the Sikkim sector. As reported in media, subsequently Chinese troops asked India to remove two bunkers that were set up in 2012 at Lalten in Doklam plateau. The two bunkers were reportedly positioned by the Indian Army as a backup option. Later, sources told PTI, that the two bunkers were destroyed by the two Chinese bulldozers on the night of June 6 after China stated that neither India nor Bhutan had any claim over the region. Soon, there was a standoff between troops of both countries with PLA and Indian Army sending immediate reinforcements to the region. At a flag meeting later, China asked Indian troops to withdraw from the Doklam region. In the aftermath of the standoff, China refused to allow the entry of Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims into its territory through the Nathu La Pass on the Sikkim border.
Strategic importance of Doklam
The three countries are concerned with their own strategic interests, China having more expansionist aspirations. According to an acclaimed journalist Parveen Swamy,while Chumbi valley has served as a trade route from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok through Yadong and Gyantse on to Dalai Lama’s court at Lhasa, the enclave for a long time did not fall to the Chinese. In 1904, the imperial military officer Francis Young husband had led British forces into the Chumbi, following the epic battle of Karo-La, fought by Gurkha and Sikh troops at altitudes of 5,700 metres,” Swami wrote.
The valley holds strategic significance for India, China as well as Bhutan. India sees it as a dagger pointed towards its so-called ‘chicken’s neck’ sector in the Northeast and rapid Chinese road construction in Tibet could make things difficult for India. At the same time, Sikkim is one of the few sectors where India has an advantage. He further explained that in the event of war, India’s Brigade-sized military presence inside Bhutan, stationed at Ha, allows it to attack the Chumbi valley from two sides, potentially cutting off Chinese troops stationed facing Sikkim.
But China’s recent assertions in the area are portentous for Bhutan which has never faced territorial issues with the Dragon in the past. China, citing the 1890 China-Britain treaty, calls Doklam its own while Bhutan has disputed the fact saying the convention applies to the India-Bhutan border, not Bhutan and China.
The reputed journalist asserts that India’s decision to take a military stand in Bhutan has changed the game for all sides. Ever since the standoff came to light, there has been a series of arguments, counter-arguments and statements from both sides enough for the foreign ministries to interfere as well. Indian officials have said that the road construction efforts by the Chinese PLA are aimed at getting closer to Doka La, the last Indian military post on its border with Bhutan and China.
According to him, the construction ‘would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India. India underlined that the two governments had agreed in 2012 that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the countries concerned. “Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding.” After China asked India to learn from ‘historical lessons,’ Defence Minister Arun Jaitley hit back saying India of 2017 is different from what it used to be 55 years ago.
On its part, China has repeatedly asserted its claim over Donglang (Doklam) and accused Indian troops of trespassing. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that India wanted to infringe upon sovereignty of Bhutan in order to cover up the illegal entry by Indian troops into the Chinese territory and they are now try to confuse right from wrong. This is futile. China claims that it has no objection to normal bilateral relations between India and Bhutan but it firmly opposed to the Indian side infringing on Chinese territory using Bhutan as an excuse. China says that it will take all steps to ensure its territorial sovereignty.
Chinese officials are also referring to existing provisions to make their claim strong. In a 1949 treaty, Bhutan agreed to let India guide its foreign policy and defence affairs. In 2007, the treaty was superseded by a new friendship treaty that replaced the provision that made it mandatory for Bhutan to take India’s guidance on foreign policy, providing broader sovereignty to Bhutan and not requiring it to obtain India’s permission over arms imports.
India charges that China has violated this ‘peace agreement’ by trying to construct roads in Doklam. On 18 June, Indian troops apparently crossed into the territory in dispute between China and Bhutan in an attempt to prevent the road construction. On 3 July 2017, China told India that former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru accepted the 1890 Britain-China treaty. India has criticised China for “crossing the border” and attempting to construct a road (allegedly done “illegally”).
On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested to China against the construction of a road in the disputed territory. On the same day, the Bhutanese border was put on high alert and border security was tightened as a result of the growing tensions. On the same day, China released a map depicting Doklam as part of China.
The current position
China claimed, via the map, that territory south to Gipmochi belonged to China and claimed it was supported by the 1890 Britain-China treaty.
On 3 July 2017, China told India that former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru accepted the 1890 Britain-China treaty. Contrary to Chinese claim, Nehru’s 26 September 1959 letter to Zhou, cited by China, was a point-by-point refutation of the claims made by the latter on 8 September 1959. Nehru made is amply clear in his refutal that the 1890 treaty defined only the northern part of the Sikkim-Tibet border and not the tri-junction area.
China claimed on 5 July 2017 it had for the past 24 months a “basic consensus” with Bhutan that Doklam belonged to China, and there was no dispute between the two countries. In a 15 page statement released on August 1, 2017, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing accused India of using Bhutan as “a pretext” to intefere and impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan. The report referred to India’s “trespassing” into Doklam as a violation of the territorial sovereignty of China as well as a challenge to the sovereignty and independence of Bhutan. The Bhutanese government on August 2017 later denied an earlier statement by China that Bhutan has relinquished its claims to Doklam.
As of now, there is no further movement and status quo is being maintained, although tension at the border is high. Both countries have said they would use official diplomatic channels to find a solution to the dispute.
China is unscrupulously pursuing its strategic goals in India’s neighbourhood be it Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan or Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Indian Prime Minister had softly reminded China during his China visit that China should keep in mind strategic interest of India as well while engaging with its neighbours. China maintains a double standard. It is calling South China Sea as its strategic backyard, but is not ready to recognize that Indian Ocean is India’s strategic backyard. Likewise China wants to invoke old British time agreement about Doklam, but the same it is not ready to accept regarding McMahon Line. Even in the case of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, it has not paid much heed to India’s claim of disputed part of Kashmir through which the project would pass affecting India’s sovereignty. India normally as a pacifist country avoids any strategic broil with China by remaining uncritical about China’s Tibet or One China policy, but China never misses any opportunity to keep India at disadvantage whether it is India’s inclusion in UN Security Council, Nuclear Supplier Group or putting Pakistani non-state terror mongers in the UN terrorists list. Doklam standoff is an indication that India would not remain a mute spectator if China would further try to encircle India. As said clap requires joining both the hands together, thus China should pay heed to Indian concerns as well, otherwise India would also rethink its strategy.
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Things which start with a great cause and purpose gradually turn into rituals to be repeated in a monotonous and routine manner, losing their essence in due course of time. Just remember the “tryst with destiny” speech given by the first Prime Minister of India. Independence Day is an occasion to celebrate, dance and rejoice. This independence has come at a great cost. But at the same time we should also rededicate ourselves to the values and collective dreams which the freedom struggle stood for.
Is Celebration of Independence Day an Extravaganza?
Some people say that spending so much on gala and gaiety to celebrate Independence Day anniversary is extravaganza, which can be avoided for the sake of spending same money on providing basic amenities to the marginalized and excluded millions of Indians. It will be the best obeisance to martyrs who laid their lives in fight against the British Colonial power’s injustice, discrimination and exploitation.
I do not disagree that we should be sensitive and forthcoming in helping our brothers and sisters, who lagged behind in the race of development due to socio-politico-historical reasons. This is earnestly needed in our country where inter-personal and inter-regional inequality is so glaring. And without liberty and equality for all at least in terms of minimum basic needs, these celebrations are like mocking on those Indians who are still waiting to feel the beauty of freedom in terms of food, dignity and shelter.
Independence Day, moment for recommitting to the values of freedom struggle
I disagree with extravaganza argument. I do not agree with the idea that we should not celebrate Independence Day anniversary for taking care of the “excluded”. Celebrating Independence Day has great significance in reminding us the values and collective dreams which the Indian freedom struggle stood for. I feel that Independence Day is the time not only for celebrations and routine furling and unfurling of flags and political speeches, but also a moment of introspection, self examination, brainstorming and debates and discussions so as to do course correction by remembering those core values of freedom struggle and the collective dreams which India saw together at the dawn of independence. We should honestly go for heart searching whether we are right on the path that we had chosen at the time of independence and enshrined in one of the most modern and democratic constitutions of the world we have.
We have become more ritualistic in Independence Day celebrations and it often turns out to be a festival of VIPs watched by the common men. I was very happy to learn that some universities and government offices decided in the past to give the honour of unfurling the national flag on this occasion to senior sweepers and gardeners. But only symbolisms would not serve the purpose. We need to do more.
Indian freedom struggle is a great historical landmark
Indian freedom struggle is a great historical landmark, as important as European renaissance or American Civil war against slavery and racial discrimination. It was not another bloody fight to carve out a modern state in the territorial and military terms, but it stood for democratic and human values and methods which inspired many leaders later on to fight against injustice, discrimination and exploitation and to realize the goals of liberty and equality in other parts of the world. The non-cooperation movement, Civil disobedience movement and nonviolence became established text book methods of democratic means of protest and fight against injustice in all the parts of the world, even in erstwhile colonial powers. The message of Indian freedom struggle goes even beyond that. The supreme sacrifice made by young freedom fighters like Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose are ever inspiring to the youth and millions of dreamers in India and across the world to fight fearlessly against injustice and exploitation and for a better tomorrow. There were tribal leaders, peasant leaders, students, villagers who not only gave a brave front for the cause of independence, but also sacrificed their lives. Life is worth only if we live and die for noble causes like freedom and equality. Another significant lesson is that for a greater goal (that time it was freedom from colonial regime), all small differences should be set aside and a united and determined effort should be made to realize the most important priority or the collective goal of the nation. It is unprecedented in world history that a diverse society like India with various castes, religions, culture, and language put forth a strong and united front against the mighty British and brutish colonial power to oust them from India and win freedom ultimately.
Political transition and degeneration in the last three decades
In the last three decades or so the Indian political dynamics has drifted to identity politics- identity based on religion, caste, creed, region, language and culture. As long as identity politics leads to politicization and democratization for justice and equality, it is part of the democratic process. But when such tendencies lead to vote bank politics by polarizing people based on narrow categories of religion (secularism or hundutva), caste, creed, region and culture, it becomes detrimental to the idea of India and its unity and integrity. When majoritarian views and way of living is thrust on the minorities and the rich flourish while the poor and weak, rural folk and farmers suffer, it is a jolt to democracy and the idea of India. These questions are relevant and Independence Day is an occasion to deliberate on them.
Let’s think on meaning of liberty, idea of India and its present state in India
What is liberty or independence? Liberty is freedom from fear, injustice and discrimination. It is the environment that allows all citizens to explore their potential and grow to the fullest. It is freedom of speech, expression and faith. It is an environment of security of life and property, dignity peace and happiness. Liberty is, thus, an all encompassing concept. Do we have all these conditions available to us? We need to think. And if not, let’s be serious for course correction.
The Indian nation is pluralist and diverse in many ways. What binds it together is the idea of India that is broad hearted, accommodative, assimilative, and cooperative and pacifist. Live and let live is the basic philosophy. The spiritual fibre of India is made up of great ideas and philosophy. One is Sarvey Bhavantu Sukhinah, sarvey santu niramayah (let everybody prosper, let everybody be free from diseases). Second idea is Vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the whole planet is one family), the third and very important belief ingrained in Indian epics is Satyameva Jayate (Truth Truimphs) and the fourt and the lat one is Shanti Ohm, Shanti Ohm (let peace prevail). This is the Indian spirit that forms unique identity of India. The idea of India is the idea of unity in diversity. It is the idea of democracy and liberalism. It is the idea of love and peace. It is the idea of tolerance and fraternity. The Indian constitution gives immense thrust on justice, equality and progressive ideas through its various schedules and articles, more prominently the preamble, the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state. At this day of independence, let’s think how committed we are to these ideas and philosophy.
Today our collective dream is to make India prosperous, democratic, peaceful and technological and economic super power. Also we want to make India Jagadguru (teacher of world) in morality and ethics and humanity and justice. Politics is the process that takes the national dream to its fruition. Political goals should be tailored to match national ethos, national spirit and the idea of India. It should also match the hopes and aspirations of India.
What are the hopes and aspirations of India? India wants to be free from hunger and poverty and disease; it wants to be free from slavery and exploitation; it wants shelter and protection to all its citizens; it wants to have employment for the largest working age population that it boasts; it wants dignity, security and equal opportunity for its weaker sections, women, minorities, scheduled castes, other backward castes and the poor among the forward castes; it wants to be an industrial, military and commercial giant; it wants to play a bigger role in the world in values, morality and strategic issues. The list is long, very long. Mind you it is aspirational India.
Political Interest and national interest
But political interests are not always same as national interest. They may be or may not be. It is constant vigil and pressure of the people through wisdom and honesty that power hungry politicians are kept closer to the national goals. Today we see that political players are playing with the idea of India for mustering the required arithmetic for grabbing power. The time in which we are living is defined by how truths are manufactured through fake news, lies fabricated as truth through social media and people being driven like sheep through emotive ideas and issues to gain political mileage. The definitions of nationalism have been polluted by jingoism and majoritarianism. The definition of secularism has turned into appeasement for vote bank. The cause of Dalit; Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Castes or even Scheduled Tribe is being used to realize political power and to create new feudal lords in these categories who play deception to the cause of social justice and good governance. In competitive politics, national goals become a façade, a slogan, a cliché (Jumla); reality however is the intense desire to remain in power by hook or crook to make money or to make money through crony capitalism to remain in power. See the panama leaks and find who’s who list of politicians across the world including India (although we do not have the full list except conjecturing in media).
We the people of India should realize that political goals of Indian political parties are drifting far apart from the national goals and it is time to stand up and unite for resistance against sinister designs against the Idea of India for winning elections. The precious energy, time and resources are being wasted on achieving ideological drift to right or left, without thinking its repercussions on the future shape and prospects of India. The intellectuals are sold out. Universities need tanks to promote patriotism, gau raksha (cow protection) would be a means to prove nationalist credentials and instrument for political parties to use the footsoldiers to hound the minorities for polarization (India is already the largest producer of milk, even before the gau rakshaks became more active). Foreign policy is made seemingly more aggressive to create a false sense of impending war to convert patriotism in jingoistic nationalism; it is a good way to hide failures to achieve national targets. On the other hand there are others who want to get political power in inheritance like a family business; there are others who are prisoners of ideology and indoctrination and not ready to come to the ground realities and find pragmatic meaning and relevance of socialism; and also there are others who use ideologies as boats to reach the seats of power and they are so pragmatic that they change their boats very often!
People the only hope
The only hope at this crucial juncture of India’s political history is people who need to set alternative narratives by creating pressure for the political parties to achieve our national goals and collective dreams. On this Independence Day and on all future Independence Day celebrations, we the people should pay our homage to the martyrs of freedom struggle and recommit ourselves to the values and idea of India for which they sacrificed their lives. Let’s not be like herd of cattle or ship. Let’s think on this auspicious occasion of Independence Day: Are we really committed to the idea of India and our collective dreams? If not, let’s think what we can do to achieve these ideals, if not for any reason, just for the sake of mother India and its teeming millions?
One of the benchmark idea of India and collective dream of India is articulated in the famous “tryst with destiny” speech of our first Prime Minister Pd. Jawaharlal Nehru.
Tryst with Destiny Speech of Pd. Jawaharlal Nehru
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries which are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again.
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart.
Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.
To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.
The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materialises. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!
We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.
On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the father of our nation, who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us.
We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.
Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or reward, have served India even unto death.
We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in their good and ill fortune alike.
The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.
We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be.
We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.
To the nations and peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.
And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service. Jai Hind .”
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