By Mukul Arya
Representative of India to Palestine
RAMALLAH, Sunday, August 15, 2021 (WAFA) - The Fifteenth of August is a solemn marker in India's history. On this day, 75 years ago, our National Flag embraced our skies, declaring the end of foreign occupation and the beginning of a new dawn; the dawn of dignity, self- determination and sovereignty.
The Nation’s freedom struggle was a long and arduous march spanning three centuries. It found its sustenance in the valour, determination and sacrifices of several generations who carried India towards freedom and the end of British dominion. While engaged in an agonizing battle, they bequeathed us the ideals of an inclusive, tolerant and democratic country that India has aspired for ever since that historic day 75 years ago.
India's independence struggle charted a new course where oppression crumbled away against the fortitude of non-violence. It spoke to the innate strength and courage in every liberty-seeking nation which sought to defy the lurid temptation of an eye for an eye.
Mahatma Gandhi saw in the Palestinian cause the reflection of India's own struggle. He was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause, voicing India's solidarity with the people of Palestine during our freedom struggle. It is the reason that, as President Mahmoud Abbas said: “When India gained independence, Palestinians, and the world, rejoiced”.
As proud torch bearers of that luminous heritage, we have been resolute in our support for Palestine and India will continue to uphold Palestine's legitimate quest for a viable, independent and sovereign Palestine. India has been a consistent and unwavering supporter of Palestine across various multilateral fora and will continue to exercise the responsibility at the United Nations Security Council, of which it is currently a member.
The Fifteenth of August is also a historic day for India-Palestine relations. It was on this day in 1996 that India opened the Representative Office in Gaza. Ever since, India has displayed an abiding commitment to strengthening the State of Palestine and deepening the rich and historic relationship that we have with the Palestinian people.
We have come a long way since 1947. In its seventh decade of independence, India stands on the cusp of major change: Over the past two decades, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) has risen by more than US$1 trillion, driven by the grit of billions of its citizens who have ensured that the horizons for each succeeding generation are only wider. With a steady progress in GDP of 9% per year, India is on course to become a US$ 10 trillion economy over the coming two decades. The last seventy five years have given India justifiable hope for the future. Our diversity and pluralism constitute the essence of the idea of India and are the source of our confidence.
As we march onwards, we have not lost sight of those who were by our side in our struggle. India’s approach to development is guided by the principles of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam"- a Sanskrit phrase which means "the world is one family". It is in this spirit that India has sought to extend in its modest fashion developmental experience and technical expertise to Palestine.
India’s developmental assistance ranges from commerce to culture, energy to engineering, health to housing, IT to infrastructure, sports to science, humanitarian assistance to heritage preservation. We draw immense satisfaction and pride from the fact that India's developmental assistance spans the expanse of Palestine and touches all aspects of a Palestinian's life.
In the recent pandemic, despite our own constraints, we have provided vaccines and essential life saving medicines to Palestine. We consider these contributions as building blocks for the creation of a peaceful and prosperous Palestine.
India is also a young country like Palestine, with youth comprising the majority of the population. Young Indians, a billion strong by 2034, have demands of this world which inspire hope. Our wishes, and duty, for Palestinian youth are the same which we have for Indian youth: creating a world which offers opportunities for progress, prosperity and self-reliance. They are our future and the inheritors of our friendship, of which we are but custodians. The India-Palestine Techno Park in Ramallah, the scholarships, and technical training offered by India are an acknowledgement of our faith in the potential, tenacity and ingenuity of Palestinians.
To commemorate the 75 years of progressive India and the history of its people, culture and achievements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a 75 week-long celebration titled 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ or the Grand celebration of the elixir of independence.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political and economic identity. It is the celebration of the spirit of the freedom struggle and the reflection of the feeling of sacrifice. It is a tribute to the martyrs of the country and a resolve to build an India of their dreams. It gives a glimpse of the pride of Ancient India and the glow of modern India as well." The 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is also being celebrated by the Representative Office of India, Ramallah with an aim of bringing this ethos to Palestine.
Every year, the Fifteenth of August is an occasion for Indians everywhere to revel in celebration but also delve in introspection. It is the day that will always continue to signify our democracy, our diversity, and our development. I am indeed privileged to celebrate this day in Palestine where I find an unparalleled resonance for the pride in independent India's achievements. Built on the ties of history, values and beliefs, it is a celebration of Palestine as certainly it is a celebration of India.