Saturday, August 20, 2011
Supriyo Hazra with correspondents
New Delhi: India and its diaspora across the world celebrated the 65th Independence Day on Monday, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unfurling the tricolor at the historic Red Fort and the nation observing the day in every town and city.
Addressing the nation on the 65th Independence Day on Monday from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted the menace of corruption but sent a stern message to the civil society group led by Anna Hazare saying the Indian parliament would have the final say in any anti-corruption mechanism like the Lokpal.
Prime Minister acknowledged that "corruption is a big obstacle in national transformation", adding that "corruption should be discussed in a manner that should not create an atmosphere in which country's progress comes into question."
The Prime Minister said discussion on corruption should not distract from self-confidence and asserted that "the government is taking strictest possible action in cases of corruption".
Security was tight in the national capital in the wake of the terrorist attack that rocked Mumbai in July.
In New Delhi, the armed security personnel were keeping a tight check in every important corner of the city to avert possible terror attacks.
Earlier, the Union Ministry had announced a countrywide alert although no specific inputs of a possible terrorist attack were there, media reports said.
In Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan unfurled the national flag and said that the government is giving more importance on security to ensure that the people of the state feel safe and secured.
Independence Day was celebrated under tight security in Mumbai in the wake of the that serial bomb blast that occurred in the financial capital of India in the month of July.
In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee celebrated her first Independence Day as CM of the state as she hoisted the flag in the morning.
West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan participated in the celebration as he placed flowers on the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Mayo Road in the early hours of the day.
He said that the biggest challenge of the nation at the present moment is to bring the all round development of the country.
“I think the biggest challenge is development,” he said.
However, the people of Delhi were not as lucky as Kolkata as rain disrupted the city on Monday.
But, Delhiites braved heavy rains and tight security to turn up in large numbers on the ocassion the Independence Day at the historical Red Fort, from where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the nation in a combative mood by concluded the speech by exulting "Jai Hinds" thrice.
Some 3000 children, dressed in tracksuits, from 35 schools of the national capital were present during the ceremony. As soon as the Prime Minister cavalcade drove in, they got up from their seats, waved and cheered
As the tricolour was unfurled, the cannons boomed and the 21 gun salute added to the majestic surrounding and the pigeons took to the air. A large number of balloons were released in the sky at the end of the function.
There was tight security all around Delhi and empty roads on a Monday morning typified the atmosphere. Gun toting commandos were all over the and specially in various places of Old Delhi were the ceremony took place. Sinpers were spotted at rooftops of several buildings round the Red Fort.
Indians living outside India also participated in celebrating I-day with tricolour being hoisted at the Indian embassies located in various corners of the world like in Beijing, New Jersey and Dhaka.
Indians in the Chinese capital, Beijing, gathered at the Indian embassy as Indian Ambassador S Jaishankar hoisted the national flag there. He also read out the address made by President Pratibha Patil to the nation.
In the other Chinese city, Shanghai, Counsul General of India Riva Ganguly Das attended the celebrations that were jointly performed by Indian medical students from Suzhou and Nantong (Jiangsu Province) Universities and members of the Indian Association, media reports said.
In the USA, the Indians marked the 65th Indian independence in the same spirit and mood as their counterparts did in the other corners of the world.
In New Jersey, hundreds of Indians waved the national flag and sang patriotic songs as they participated in a parade to mark the occasion in their own ways.
The parade organised by Indian Business Association of New Jersey witnessed large number of people participating in it. The parade that was organized by Oak Tree Indian Business Association was cancelled due to rough weather.
The parade also witnessed nearly 150 volunteers from ‘India Against Corruption’ walking in support of Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement and the much debated Lokpal Bill.
Anna later prayed before the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat ahead of his fast against corruption and demand for a strong Lokpal Bill.
The volunteers were seen wearing the cap designed as the one worn by Anna Hazare and were shouting slogans in support of the movement.