2006-08-15 My dear countrymen, brothers, sisters, and dear children My greetings to all of you on this day, the anniversary of our Independence.
Today is an auspicious day for our country. Today we enter the 60th year of our Independence. Today we re-dedicate ourselves to the progress and prosperity of our nation. To the welfare of all our people. To the unity and integrity of our country.
Today we salute our beloved tricolor. We pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and all those freedom fighters because of whose efforts and sacrifices we secured our Independence. We remember all those whose hard work and efforts keep our flag flying high and keep our country on the road to progress. We pay tribute to the brave members of our armed forces, farmers, teachers, scientists, workers and the millions of our countrymen who are toiling tirelessly for the progress and prosperity of our nation.
In the early hours of the 15th of August, 1947, when our nation had just become Independent, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru spoke to the nation and asked us all one important question on the very first day we became a free country: "Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?"
Today, my fellow citizens, I stand here once again and ask you that same question. Are we ready to face the challenge of the future? Are we brave enough, to do so, and wise enough, in doing so? Can we rediscover the ideas and ideals that shaped our freedom struggle, and use them to take our country forward into the future? Are we willing to show the courage and the wisdom that Panditji wanted us to show in building a new India in a new world?
The going has never been as good for India in the past as it is now. Our economy has been growing at an impressive pace of over 8 per cent. Such rapid growth over three successive years is unprecedented in Indian history. Wherever I go, I see our nation on the move. Our industry and services sectors are showing impressive growth. I see a reassuring confidence in our industry in being able to take on the challenge of the rest of the world. The growth of the manufacturing industry has touched 11 per cent in the last quarter, generating many jobs for our youth and workers. I see our service sector competing with the best and earning valuable foreign exchange.
All around us, we see new roads being built. The railways are expanding their reach. New power plants are being built. New airports are being planned. Vast industrial estates and Special Economic Zones are coming up. This dynamism is the result of the enterprise, creativity and hard work of millions of Indians. They are boldly taking our country into the future, treading on untrodden paths. I am sure this will result in far greater prosperity for our people. I sincerely believe that the most effective way to banish poverty is to generate growth which in turn will create new opportunities for gainful employment. Hence, economic growth is of primary importance for us.
There is visible progress all around. However, when I see this, I have some worries. And I am aware, that every Indian has similar worries. Even as we move forward rapidly, to claim our rightful place in the comity of nations, I see that there are vast segments of our people who are untouched by modernization; who continue to do backbreaking labour; who continue to suffer from iniquitous social orders. I see that our farmers in many parts are in a crisis, not managing to eke out a decent living from their land. In the past two years, it has been our endeavour to address these concerns. We have taken many steps to expand employment opportunities and improve the quality of life in rural and urban areas.
These programmes are our weapons in the "War on Poverty". The most effective weapon against poverty is employment. And, higher economic growth is the best way to generate...