"Fellow countrymen, Armed forces at the borders, brave soldiers of the Army, Navy and Air Force, toiling farmers, Workers, my countrymen living abroad and dear children,
I congratulate you all on the Golden Jubilee of the Nation's Independence. I salute those martyrs whose sacrifice won Independence for the country. My tributes especially to the family members of those whose patriotism and sacrifice freed the country from the shackles of British imperialism and gave the country deliverance from century old slavery and humiliation. We salute the vanguard of freedom fighters whose efforts are recognised by the whole country.
On this occasion, I remember with gratitude those innumerable martyrs who suffered in jail, in anonymity but who always nurtured the hope to see a free India. I don't know whether you have heard of Ashfaq, Bismil who gave the message of supreme sacrifice while awaiting the gallows by saying "Sarfaroshi ki tamanna". (Urdu couplet) Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev also had the same song on their lips when they were being led to the gallows. I on behalf of the nation, salute them, today.
Last night, the President recalled the contribution of those great leaders whose sacrifices and leadership ended the slavery ofhundreds of years. The countrymen recall with gratitude the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Abdul Gaffar Khan, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Babu Rajendra Prasad, C.Rajagopalachari and founder of our Constitution Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Today we remember those lakhs of families who suffered humiliation and lost their lives at the time of partition. Ours is an ancient civilization . In these last fifty years, the culture of this country has been enriched further and this in itself reflects unity and secularism. Our country is moving towards modernity while keeping its heritage intact. This is as old and ancient, as it is young and vibrant. There is a certain attraction in this land whereby people belonging to different cultures and languages were able to mingle freely and enrich our civilisation. The greatest contribution of this country to society is Democracy under which 50 crore voters elect their representatives from Panchayat to Parliament. We are proud of our Democracy. On this historic occasion , as I address you from the ramparts of the Red Fort, which has witnessed several historical events, history is unfolding before my eyes. As you must have seen last night the Members of Parliament were listening to the speech of Jawaharlal Nehru which was delivered 50 years ago. Mahatma Gandhi,s voice was inspiring the country, once again. Netaji who was the symbol of sacrifice has said that freedom and sacrifice are synonymous. A new India was awakening with fresh hopes on 15th August, 1947. The first Prime Minister of the country Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru had reiterated the ple given to the future generations by the freedom fighters. This commitment which was towards the nation and its people.
Fifty years ago, while on the one hand in the Central Hall of the Parliament the country was looking towards the future with hope on the other, it was witness to the menace of communalism at its worst in areas like Punjab and Bengal which were partitioned. In the name of religion, innocents were being stabbed, women folk were being openly humiliated and barbarism was at its height. Human values were nowhere in sight. Lakhs of men and women, old and young and children including myself were crossing the border from both sides with tears in the eye and smile on the face, with no hope for the future and darkness behind. Even during this painful hour, we remembered Gandhiji who inspired us and showed the path of a secular democratic India even putting his life at stake. It was assumed and later confirmed by posterity that had we chosen some other path, the country could not have stayed united or progressed.