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Monday, August 12, 2019

Red Fort ~ and analysis of what Indian Prime Ministers speak on Independence Day

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…’  the  historic speech marked India’s independence from British rule and simultaneously made the Red Fort in Delhi a politically significant monument!

It is at the Red Fort, Prime Ministers make their Independence Day speeches every year.   Red Fort has been a strategically important monument through the ages, due to Delhi being the capital city for a good part of the Mughal rule in India.  In 1638, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan moved the capital of his empire from Agra to a newly constructed city in Delhi that he called Shahjahanabad. Along with the construction of this new city, he laid the foundations of his palace, the Red Fort or Lal Qila. This massive walled citadel with red sandstone walls took nearly a decade to complete.

Red Fort has Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.  Images of the fort have  featured prominently on postage stamps. It is associated with history.  The vandalism carried out in 1857 after the suppression of the rebellion makes it a site remembered for national resistance.  In Nov  1945, the Red Fort was selected as the venue for the court martial of Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. These were three token individuals, selected from the many thousands of Indian officers and troops who had joined the Indian National Army and fought against the British during the Second World War. Initially fighting on the British side, they had been taken prisoner by the Japanese in Malaya, and agreed to change allegiance. Freed from jail, they joined the newly constituted INA and assisted the Japanese attack on Burma in 1945. Many members of the INA were captured by the British during that campaign. The trial of three of the officers, on charges of ‘waging war against the king’, provoked huge public anger.

In 2018, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on 72nd Independence Day, devoting  maximum time of speech in presenting the report card of his government. Making a pitch for retaining power in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a picture of “rising” India and contrasted it with what he termed as “policy paralysis” during the UPA rule. That was Modiji’s fifth speech at Red Fort after NDA came to power in 2014. “When 125 crore people move towards achieving a goal, there is nothing that cannot happen. In 2014, the people of the country did not just stop at forming the government. They moved together towards nation-building and are continuing to do so,” he said. The PM said also said that he was an ‘impatient agent’ of change.

My dear countrymen, I convey my best wishes to all of you on this auspicious occasion of Independence Day. Today, the country is brimming with self-confidence. The country is scaling new heights by working extremely hard, with a resolve to realize its dreams. Today’s dawn has brought a new spirit, a new enthusiasm, a new zeal and a new energy with it. My dear countrymen, in our country, there is a Neelakurinji flower which blooms once every 12 years. This year, Neelakurinji is in full bloom on the hills of Southern Nilgiri like the Ashok Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) in the Tricolour on our Independence Day.   My dear countrymen, we are celebrating this festival of independence at a time when the Mount Everest has been conquered many times; several brave-hearts and many of our daughters have unfurled the Tricolour atop the Mount Everest. However, during this festival of independence, I will remember our young tribal children from remote forest areas, who have unfurled the Tricolour on the Mount Everest, further enhancing its glory.

Today, the country is full of self-confidence. The country is scaling new heights by working extremely hard with a resolve to scale new heights. The next year will mark 100 years of the Jalliwanwallahbagh massacre. The masses had sacrificed their lives for the country's freedom; and the exploitation had crossed all limits. The Jalliwanwallahbagh incident inspires us of the sacrifices made by those brave hearts. I salute all those brave hearts from the bottom of my heart. India has become the sixth largest economy of the world.

            The country is experiencing change in the last four years. The country is progressing with new zeal, enthusiasm and courage.  Today the country is constructing twice the highways and four times more houses in the villages.          The country is producing record foodgrains and manufacturing record number of mobile phones. The sale of tractors has reached a new high ~ the Prime Minister said.

To those who often try to paint the Prime Minister on the grounds of religion ~ here is what this interesting report from Live Mint has to say .. ..  Narendra Modi spends less time on religion and caste compared to his predecessors, but talks more about poverty and the poor in his speeches.

Some excerpts from that article in Live Mint.  Independence Day (I-Day) speeches have for long been an occasion for prime ministers to showcase the achievements of their government, and to reiterate their commitment to the process of nation-building.  A Mint analysis of the content of all Independence Day speeches by prime ministers since 1991 reveals that while certain topics, such as nationalism and rural India (or Bharat), have remained consistently popular, some new themes, such as the economy and infrastructure, have gained in prominence over the past two decades. The analysis is based on the frequency of mentions per 10,000 words in the Independence Day speeches of each prime minister. Only prime ministers who have completed a full five-year term were considered in this analysis: P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991-1996), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004), Manmohan Singh (2004-2014) and Narendra Modi (2014-present).

Modi’s Independence Day speeches are the longest in this period at an average of about 8,000 words. His predecessors, Singh and Vajpayee, delivered much shorter speeches.  The nature of the occasion perhaps demands a nationalist rhetoric and, hence, words related to the country, or the nation, have been equally frequent across the time period under consideration. Such references spiked in Vajpayee’s post-Kargil speech (129 per 10,000 words) in 2000. Another topic that has remained evergreen over time is Bharat or rural India, with nearly every speech containing an average of 50 references per 10,000 words. While other prime ministers mentioned education infrequently, Singh consistently spoke about education in his Independence Day speeches.  Interestingly, references to religion and caste have been fading over the past 30 years, with the highest references to religion made by Rao at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, demanding construction of a Ram mandir at the disputed Babri Masjid site.

Modi’s speeches have retained the thrust on nationalism and focus on rural topics, but on other issues, he makes far fewer references compared to his predecessors. Even on themes related to religion and caste, Modi seems to have spent relatively less time than his predecessors. The most striking feature of Modi’s speeches is the theme he has spoken much more than any other: Poverty.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Aug 2019.

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