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India Independence Day: Modi hails democracy and diversity

Mahima Kapoor
August 15, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of peace in Manipur, democracy and reforms in his address to the nation to mark the country's 77th Day of Independence from British colonial rule.

A school student holds India's national flags during the celebrations on the eve of country's Independence Day in Hyderabad on August 14, 2023
The 'Quit India Movement' resulted in the British departing from India in 1947Image: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an annual address from the Red Fort in Delhi to mark India's 77th Independence Day on Tuesday. 

He spoke of a new era of abundance. He said the government will take several decisions in the near future which will influence the next 1,000 years for the country. 

"Today we have demography, today we have democracy and we have diversity," he said, adding that they are the key instruments for India's future. He lauded his government for carrying out several reforms in the last nine years of his leadership.

Modi on peace in Manipur

Modi also addressed the racial violence in the northeastern state of Manipur, saying that many people have lost their lives and women raped in the last four months. He said that peace has returned to the state over last few days and hoped for its continuance. 

"The path for solution in Manipur will be found through peace. The central and state government are making all efforts for a solution. We will continue to do so," he said.

Other topics Modi spoke about included agricultural advancement, digital transformation and the need to prioritize the nation on the global stage. The speech takes center stage ahead of the general elections coming up in mid-2024.

The national capital saw tightened security in the days before the event with over 1,000 surveillance cameras, anti-drone technology and over 10,000 police officers deployed across Delhi. 

India's Manipur conflict fuels demands for separate state

Independence Day tradition in India

On August 14, 1947 — on the eve of India's independence from British rule — the nation's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, hoisted the national flag from the Red Fort in Delhi followed by the famous speech known as "Tryst with Destiny."

Since then, every year the Indian flag is unfurled at the fort.

Modi is the 13th prime minister to give an Independence Day speech at the historical fort. He paid homage to the country's freedom fighters on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, reaffirming the "commitment to fulfilling their vision."

Freedom from British rule

The East India Company took control of the nation in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey. Nearly two centuries later, the "Quit India Movement" resulted in the British leaving the country in 1947.

Independence came at the price of partition — with the creation of two countries, India and Pakistan —  which resulted in widespread rioting and massacres, which continue to haunt both countries until today.

Across India, the day is celebrated with local flag ceremonies, cultural programs, and songs which commemorate the freedom fighters of India.

Edited by: Rob Turner