69th Indian Independence Day celebrated at Embassy Residence

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August 19, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh reading out President Pranab Mukherjee's Independence Day address to the nation, on the celebration of India’s 69th Independence Day at the Embassy Residence.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington, DC

August 19, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh reading out President Pranab Mukherjee's Independence Day address to the nation, on the celebration of India’s 69th Independence Day at the Embassy Residence.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington, DC

Washington, DC – On August 15, it was a heart-warming scene on the Independence Day of India at the Embassy Residence here as Ambassador Arun K. Singh unfurled the tricolor in the presence of over 350 guests who joined in singing the Indian national anthem.

In a statement on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day of the Republic of India, Ambassador Singh emphasized the strides in India-US ties.  “Hailed as the defining partnership of the 21st century in the world, India and the US are enhancing their relationship not only at the bilateral level, but also at the regional and global levels”, he said.

Referring to the historic visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US in September 2014 and President Obama to India in January 2015, the envoy noted that “the leaders of both countries have given a great impetus to the momentum of this relationship. Our bilateral trade and investment, which are reaching new heights, are encouraging us to aspire for higher goals.  Our cooperation has deepened in the established sectors while new fields are continuously added to widen our relationship”, he said.

Heartwarming scenes from the flag hoisting on the 69th Independence Day of India at the Embassy Residence in Washington, DC

New Delhi’s top diplomat in Washington never tires of lauding the soaring contributions of Indian-Americans and their key role in advancing bilateral ties.  “People-to-people contact is one of the strongest pillars of this growing relationship”, he stated, in his Independence Day message.  “I take this opportunity to thank Indian nationals and the Indian-American community for their dynamic, substantial and continuous contribution to strengthening the relationship between the largest democracy and the oldest democracy”.

Ambassador Singh stated, “On this historic day, we recall with reverence and respect the courage and sacrifices of our freedom fighters who paved the way for realization of a great nation which we all cherish today.  India occupies a distinct place in the comity of nations by being the largest democracy that exemplifies unity in diversity and peaceful co-existence with a flourishing multi-cultural society.  India is making great strides in various fields including economy, science & technology, education and in empowerment of its people”.

The Independence Day celebration was held outdoors on the beautifully landscaped lawn of the Embassy Residence on a picture-perfect morning.  The event featured patriotic songs by the Olney-based Nadakokila music group founded by Usha Char, and refreshments by Woodlands vegetarian restaurant, located in Hyattsville, owned and managed by Anand Poojary.

The Olney-based Nadakokila music group founded by Usha Char sang patriotic songs at the Independence Day celebration at the Indian Embassy Residence

As is customary, the envoy read President Pranab Mukherjee’s message to the nation on Independence Day.

In a thought-provoking address, candid to the core, the President said, “Our institutions of democracy are under stress.  The Parliament has been converted into an arena of combat rather than debate”.  He believed, “it is time for serious thinking by the people and their parties” and that “the correctives must come from within”.

Describing economic reforms as “a work-in-progress”, he pointed out India’s rise will not only be measured by the strength of its values, “it will equally be determined by economic growth and equitable distribution of the nation’s resources”.

In this context, he noted, “Our performance over the last decade has been commendable and it is most heartening that after a dip, we have recovered to 7.3 percent growth in 2014-15.  But, the benefits of growth must reach the poorest of the poor much before they land in the bank accounts of the richest of the rich”, he said.  “Our policies must be geared to meet the ‘Zero Hunger’ challenge in a foreseeable future”.

President Mukherjee made it abundantly clear that while India is engaged in pro-actively promoting goodwill and prosperity in the immediate neighborhood, it “cannot stay blind to deliberate acts of provocation and a deteriorating security environment.  India is a target of vicious terrorist groups operating from across the borders”, he said.  “Except the language of violence and the cult of evil, these terrorists have no religion and adhere to no ideology.  Our neighbors must ensure that their territory is not used by forces inimical to India.  Our policy will remain one of zero tolerance for terrorism.  We reject any attempt to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.  Infiltration into our territory and attempts to create mayhem will be dealt with a strong hand”.

Heartwarming scenes from the flag hoisting, followed by patriotic songs, on the 69th Independence Day of India celebration at the Embassy Residence. Over 350 eminent guests attended the event on a picture-perfect day.

He pointed out that “India is a complex country of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions” and “its strength lies in its unique capacity to blend apparent contradictions into positive affirmations”.

Noting that “India has blossomed into a vibrant democracy” and “the roots are deep”, he warned, “the leaves are beginning to wilt” and “it is time for renewal”.

The President queried, “If we do not act now, will our successors seven decades hence remember us with the respect and admiration we have for those who shaped the Indian dream in 1947?  The answer may not be comfortable, but the question has to be asked”, he said.


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