Speech delivered by Kenneth Cutshaw at Atlanta Festival of India, August 14, 2004.
The dream of India as a great nation, which we saw during the Freedom Struggle, continues to inspire us even today. As we celebrate this 58th Independence Day, to some extent, this dream has been realized. Yet, a lot more remains to be accomplished. Despite all the hardships, and braving all the challenges in these fifty-eight years, India is standing in the world with her head held high.
The world is changing. New challenges for India are emerging. On an united front, We have to make India stronger both economically and socially.
India’s prestige in the world has gone up, thanks to a pro-active foreign policy. The international community’s way of looking at India has undergone a major shift and positive change. The world is now recognizing India:
As the world’s largest democracy;
As an emerging global economic power;
As the confluence of a modern nation and an ancient civilization;
As a powerful country, dedicated to the ideal of peace.
When this ancient and great nation of India combines talent and hard work, and strives its utmost in pursuit of a common vision, it will certainly succeed in building a bright future for itself.
Let’s take a few moments to recall the Architect of modern India. Mr. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, He was indeed the leader of free India, a source of inspiration and the voice of freedom movements across Asia and other parts of the world. He belonged to the category of leaders who had a world vision of humanity at large.
Mr. Nehru had a great hope and a dream for the people of India and all of Asia. He was one of Asia’s most notable and articulate political leaders of the generation which saw the development of anti-colonial nationalist movement, the destruction of colonial empire in Asia and Africa and the making of new nations’ state in their place. He is one of those rare leaders who in 1930’s itself envisaged the role of science in shaping human destiny. He boldly said the future belongs to those who make friends with science. His friendship with science was for the upliftment of poor, impoverished and oppressed people.
The vision of Nehru has been guiding us since the early years of independence. However, freedom for Nehru had a social and ethical context and a moral purpose as well. It was not an end in itself but was necessary to creating a climate in which human talent and creativity could be forged for the greater benefit of all humankind including the underprivileged. For colonial nations, which had been long, impoverished by years of bondage and servitude, freedom acquired a special meaning in the form of a condition in which a free society could be rebuilt. Nehru’s contribution to the rebuilding of our nation has been acclaimed by all. His principles and policies molded various aspects of our nation building and he has rightly been called the architect of modern India.
Over the last few months, Freedom and Democracy was at work in India. A sign of the freedom in India is that a higher percentage of people voted in the national elections this past Spring than those that will vote this November here in the United States. A new government was elected and there was a peaceful transition. The new Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh offered several comments worth noting in his Inauguration address on June 24 (2004).
He said: "As I share with you the priorities of our government, I am reminded of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi said that his mission in life was ‘to wipe every tear from every eye.’ Think of the poorest person you have ever seen, Gandhi would say, ‘and ask if your next act will be of any use to him.’ That message resonates in our ears with the leadership of the Indian government."
When speaking about the US, Dr. Singh said: "As two of the world’s great democracies, our strengthened relationship with the USA is a fact of considerable importance. The transformation of our relations with USA has been supported by the expansion of economic links and people to people ties. We will welcome the expansion of cooperation between the two Governments to include new and mutually beneficial areas".
In closing the Prime Minister Singh said: "Fellow citizens, I urge you to come forward and take an active role in the nation’s public affairs. Each one of you can make a difference. I seek your support to restore to our public life a greater sense of purpose and a renewed commitment to decency, morality and the hard work needed to take our country and every one of our citizens forward. We must re-capture the spirit of idealism and self-sacrifice, which characterized the high noon of our freedom struggle. Working together, we shall ensure that this ancient, sacred land of ours regains its rightful place in the comity of nations."
The genesis of independence is to be able to elect our leadership, to participate in the process of government, to have the ability to work and better ourselves and our families and to be here today to celebrate our place on this earth, in the USA or India.
Thank you for your interest and the privilege of being with you today.
Presented by Kenneth A. Cutshaw
Honorary Consul for India
August 14, 2004
Atlanta Festival of India
Gwinnett Convention Center