Link Copied

A look back at top Independence Day speeches from erstwhile Indian Prime Ministers

A look back at top Independence Day speeches from erstwhile Indian Prime Ministers
BCCL
  • India is all set to celebrate its 74th Independence Day tomorrow.
  • On this day, the country commemorates its freedom from the British empire that ruled and exploited the country for over two hundred years.
  • Here are excerpts famous I-day speeches from Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi
India is all set to celebrate its 74th Independence Day tomorrow. On this day, the country commemorates its freedom from the British empire that ruled and exploited the country for over two hundred years.

Every year, the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation — talking about the importance of this day and the vision forward. Here are some of the most famous speeches given on I-Day at the Red Fort —

​India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ‘Tryst with Destiny’ on the eve of Independence

​India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ‘Tryst with Destiny’ on the eve of Independence
BCCL

“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.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, gave this speech at midnight on August 14 — ushering in India’s independence. His speech marked a new path for the country which was ruled by the people.

He added, “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.”

Advertisement

​India’s first female Prime Minister spoke about protecting the country and its independence — two months before she was assassinated

​India’s first female Prime Minister spoke about protecting the country and its independence — two months before she was assassinated
BCCL

Indira Gandhi, daughter of former PM Jawaharlal Nehru, became the first female Prime Minister in 1966. While she gave her first speech in the same year, her most famous speech was the one she gave in 1984.

“If we have achieved independence, we should not rest peacefully that we have now achieved independence. We have to struggle always to maintain it. We have to protect this flame of independence from every storm, from every gust of wind, we have to save it with our hard work .”

At that time, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to launch Operation Blue Star in order to remove Sikhs militants who wanted Khalistan. She was assassinated by her own bodyguard two months after this speech.

Advertisement

​India’s youngest Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the third from Gandhi family, said it is the diversity that makes India

​India’s youngest Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the third from Gandhi family, said it is the diversity that makes India
BCCL

Mr. Rajiv Gandhi addresses a rally at Mumbai on February 5, 1982.

Rajiv Gandhi came into politics and became the prime minister following the death of his mother and former PM Indira Gandhi. He was India’s youngest Prime Minister and also the third from the Gandhi family to take this position.

“Being an Indian does not mean we are mere inhabitants of the country… We have a diversity of cultures. We belong to different religions- Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists… We accord equal respect to all faiths and religions. Our strength and unity flow from this fact. This is the only path we must follow, for our strength lies in our diversity.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

​Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s vision for India

​Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s vision for India
BCCL

Group photograph of Janata Dal president and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, Delhi, 1990.

Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s, Bharatiya Janata Party’s patriarch, was known for his long pauses and speeches — decorated with poetry.

“Come, let us make India a nation of high achievers - in every sphere. In business and economy, in education, in science and technology, in arts and culture, and also in sports. Let us make India synonymous with ~achievement~, the achievement of the kind that can be benchmarked globally,” he had said in 1999.

India had just won a war against Pakistan at Kargil when Vajpayee gave this speech and also focussed on economic growth.

“Today, speaking to a self-confident India, I declare: Sanctions have lost their effect. They have become a thing of the past. We have dealt with them in such a way that they hardly had any effect on our economy. We kept the South-east Asian economic crisis at bay.”

He further added,“yes, the Government was brought down, but the country was not. It continued to march ahead, fulfilling the mantra of Charaiveti, Charaiveti (Move on, Move on). The Government continued to discharge its duty.”

Advertisement

​Manmohan Singh’s pledge of action against corruption

​Manmohan Singh’s pledge of action against corruption
BCCL

Speaking at time, when there was growing concern over corruption allegations against his government, he spent a quarter of his I-day speech focussing on the challenges and need for a strong ‘lokpal’ to curb graft.

“I am aware of the differences of opinion on some aspects of the bill. Those who don't agree with this bill can put forward their views to Parliament, political parties and even the press. However, I also believe they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts-unto-death," said Manmohan Singh in 2011.

Manmohan Singh, India’s accidental Prime Minister, has addressed the nation ten times at the Red Fort. In his speech in 2013, he talked about many issues from Uttarakhand disaster to economic status.

“Today is certainly a day of joy for us. But on this celebration of independence, we also feel pain in our hearts that our brothers and sisters in Uttarakhand had to face devastation about two months back. Our deepest sympathies are with all the families that suffered the loss of life or property. We are also deeply pained that we lost the submarine, INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. ”

Brothers and Sisters, We achieved independence in 1947 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. If we look at our subsequent journey, we would find that our country has seen major changes every ten years.

Advertisement

​Narendra Modi’s speeches have swept the nation with new initiatives, policies and much more

​Narendra Modi’s speeches have swept the nation with new initiatives, policies and much more
BCCL

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing the nation for the seventh time from Red Fort on Saturday. He has launched several initiatives, including Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Swach Bharat in his Independence Day speeches.

In his first speech as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about nation-building

"My dear countrymen, this nation has neither been built by political leaders nor by rulers nor by governments. This nation has been built by our farmers, our workers, our mothers and sisters, our youth. The country has reached here today because of generation-to-generation rigours undertaken by our sages, our saints, our maestros, our teachers, our scientists and social workers,"

Few months before Narendra Modi scrapped two currency notes and launched the demonetisation drive in the country he said: "Corruption is like a termite, it spreads slowly, reaches everywhere but it can be beaten with timely injections."
Advertisement