Manmohan Singh: 'A billion people are seeking their destiny in a democracy'

From the Independence Day address by the Prime Minister of India, delivered from the Red Fort in Delhi

Mahatma Gandhi had also dreamt of the same independence when he launched the Dandi March 75 years ago. Through that struggle, he shook the foundations of the greatest and most powerful empire the world had ever seen. Today, we need to once again remember the sacrifice and commitment of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, and also his dreams for an independent nation. We also need to reflect on how far we have been successful in fulfilling his dreams.

What was the dream Gandhiji had of an independent India? He had said, " I will work for an India where the poorest of the poor feel that this country and this nation belongs to them and that they have a major role in its construction. An India where there is no higher class or lower class among all people. An India where all communities live in friendship and harmony. An India where women have the same rights as men."

Have we come anywhere near this dream? In the last year, our attempt has been to build the India of Gandhiji's dream. The goal of our government's National Common Minimum Programme is also the same. Last year, on this very day, I had said from the Red Fort that I have no promises to make but only promises to keep.

It is not only us, but the entire world, which is viewing India as an emerging power of these times. The whole world is eagerly watching the manner in which India is making rapid economic progress. And this economic growth is happening within the framework of a liberal democracy.Our country is a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic nation. Nowhere in the world do we have an example of a country of a billion people seeking their economic and social destiny within the framework of a democracy. It is because of this that the entire world's attention is riveted on us.