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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Hon'ble President of India address to Nation ~ 75th Independence Day "‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’


We celebrate the Independence from colonial forces – though we read all about British history, they were not the first invaders ! - Portuguese discovery of the sea route to India was the first recorded trip directly from Europe to India, via the Cape of Good Hope.  The success of Porguguese in establishing a lucrative commerce with the East excited a desire among the other nations of Western Europe to follow.  Portuguese had a long start – a century before any rival made an effective entry in the field.  The reasons for this were largely political – the Papal bulls of 1493 and the subsequent agreement with Spain at Tordesillas prevented any attempts by the Catholic powers to infringe the monopoly claimed by Lisbon. 

The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in Tordesillas, Spain on 7 June 1494, and authenticated in Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly-discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire (Crown of Castile), along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. That line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (already Portuguese) and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Castile and León), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola). The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile. Despite considerable ignorance regarding the geography of the so-called New World, Portugal and Spain largely respected the treaty. The other European powers however did not sign the treaty and generally ignored it, particularly those that became Protestant after the Reformation.  

WE are all set to celebrate the 75th   INDEPENDENCE DAY of the Nation ~ the great day of 15th August when BHARAT was liberated from foreign rule. .. .. often described in a terse statement, India achieved freedom ‘without battle or shedding blood’ – Indian freedom struggle was far different perhaps – thousands sacrificed and more number underwent innumerable difficulties for that magic freedom, which we happily enjoy .. .. .. and, Indian History does not have much written about those great martyrs. 

Here is a brief extract of the address of our Hon’ble President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind on the eve of 75th Independence day. 

My Dear Fellow Citizens,


It is a matter of great joy for me to wish all Indians, living in India and abroad, a very Happy Independence Day! This day has a special significance as it marks the beginning of the 75th year of India’s independence for which ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is being celebrated. My hearty congratulations to you all on this momentous occasion!

Independence Day is a festival of freedom for us. This was made possible by generations of freedom fighters; some known, many unknown. They made great sacrifices. Today, you and I breathe under free skies thanks to their heroic deeds. I bow in respect to the pious memory of those brave martyrs. Our nation, like many others, suffered great injustices and tyranny under foreign rule. What distinguishes India, however, is that the character of our nationalist movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was based on the principles of truth and non-violence. He and all other national heroes provided us with an invaluable blueprint to not only liberate the nation from colonial rule, but also to rebuild it.  Now as we look back to the seventy five year journey of our republic, we have reasons to be proud of the considerable distance we have travelled. Gandhiji taught us that slow and steady steps in the right direction are preferable to rapid strides in the wrong direction. The world looks up at the miracle of India, home to the plurality of traditions and yet the biggest and most vibrant democracy.

When India won Independence 75 years ago, many sceptics thought democracy would not survive in India. Little did they know that roots of democracy were nurtured in this soil in ancient times, and even in modern times India was ahead of many western nations in offering franchise to all adults, regardless of any distinctions. The founding fathers had reposed their faith in the wisdom of the people, and ‘we, the people of India’ have made India a strong democracy.

“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.

கருணையுள்ள கானிங்பிரபு !  சரித்திர புத்தகத்தில் படித்தது.  மனிதர்களை அடிமைப்படுத்தி அவர்களை விலங்குகளைவிட மோசமாக நடத்தி – அவர்களை வியாபாரம் பண்ணினவர்கள், மனிதகுலத்தில் எப்படி நல்லவர்களாக கருதமுடியும் ?  ஜேம்ஸ் ஆண்ட்ரூ பிரௌன்-ராம்சே என்ற இயற்பெயர் கொண்ட ‘டல்ஹவுசி’ பிரபுக்குப் பின்னர் ஆங்கிலேயர்களுக்கு கீழேஇருந்த இந்தியாவின் இந்தியத் தலைமை ஆளுநராக பதவி வகித்தவர் – சார்லஸ் ஜான் கானிங்.  இந்திய முதல் சுதந்திர போரை முறியடித்து,  பங்குகொண்ட பல்லாயிரக்கணக்கான போர்வீரர்கள் மீது கடுமையான தண்டனைகளை வழங்கியவர் இந்த கருணையுள்ளம் கொண்டவர் என நாம் புத்தகத்தில் படித்த பிரபு   !! 

In the last century, India was a colony of British and we happily read about our Emperor and his glorified exploits.  Visiting Mumbai one would have  wondered the architecture of the Gateway of India and its history.   This monument at Apollo Bunder was erected to commemorate the landing in Dec 1911 of King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary, the first British monarch to visit India.  He passed away due to illness in 20.1.1936 is what we have read in History .. .. .. but now, it is stated that the King was euthanized by his Doctor with a lethal dose of morphine and cocaine.   Not any concocted story but a documentary in UK – ‘George V: The Tyrant King’ explores the life of the Queen's grandfather and first monarch of the Windsor dynasty who was known as cruel and harsh in private ! .. Experts reveal King was euthanised aged 70 by his doctor Lord Dawson in 1936. Diaries reveal doctor made sure royal died before midnight so the news of the King's death made the front of the Times newspaper. 

It was not the tyrannical British alone who exploited India.  It was Portuguese,D Dutch, French and more – who looted the riches of India.  By 1669, the VOC was the richest private company the world had ever seen, with over 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 50,000 employees, a private army of 10,000 soldiers, and a dividend payment of 40% on the original investment.  VOC who ? wonder ??

Preparations commenced in the autumn of 1599 for a fresh expedition to the East but had to be abandoned owing to Queen Elizabeth’s fear of prejudicing her negotiations with King Philip for a peace.  In the next year, negotiations failed and early in 1601 a fleet sailed for the East under the command of Lancaster.  A Charter dated 31.12.1600 those interested in the venture had been incorporated under the title of “The Governor and Company of merchants of London Trading into East Indies” and the monopoly of English commerce in eastern waters (from the cape of Good Hope to Straits of Magellan) had been granted to them and their successors for a term of 15 years !!

England being still at war with Spain and Portugal and the immediate aim being the acquisition of spices and pepper of Far East, the first, Second voyages were not made to India, but to Achin (Sumatra), Bantam (in Java) and the Moluccas.  However, in Aug 1604, peace was concluded without any recognition of the English claim to share in the commerce of the Indian Seas.  The Third voyage of the fleet on its way to Bantam, endeavor to open up trade at Aden and Surat. For this purpose the post of second in command was given to William Hawkins, a merchant who had considerable experience in the Levant and could speak Turkish – and he was provided with a letter from King James to Emperor Akbar (whose death was not yet known in London) desiring permission to establish trade in India.   The Hector, vessel commenced by Hawkins, anchored off the mouth of Tapti on 24th Aug 1608 and her captain proceeded up the river to Surat, the principal port.  He reached Agra in the middle of Apr 1609 and was graciously received by King Jahangir.

In Dutch, the name of the company is Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, literally the "United East Indian Company", which is abbreviated to VOC.  The Dutch East India Company, officially the United East India Company (VOC), was a megacorporation founded by a government-directed consolidation of several rival Dutch trading companies (voorcompagnieën) in the early 17th century.  The company has been often labelled a trading company (i.e. a company of merchants who buy and sell goods produced by other people) or sometimes a shipping company.   

Will conclude with the words of our Hon’ble President of India in his Independence Day eve address :

                I extend my greetings especially to the members of the armed forces, who have guarded our freedom, valiantly and gladly making supreme sacrifice when necessary. I also extend my greetings to the members of the Indian diaspora, who have represented the motherland well wherever they have made home.  I  once again congratulate all of you, on the eve of India’s 75th Independence Day. While celebrating this anniversary, I cannot stop my mind from imagining a powerful, prosperous and peaceful India of 2047 when we will celebrate 100 years of our independence. I wish that all our people come out of the difficulties caused by the Covid pandemic and move ahead on the path of happiness and prosperity. Once again, my best wishes to all of you!

On this historic day, we look back with pride India’s achievements in the 7 decades after Independence and remember those martyrs whose blood and sacrifices ensured our breathing fresh and free air.

Jai Hind ~ Nation is greater than everything else.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Aug 2021.

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