This is a very sacred occasion when we as a nation come together to pay homage to all those millions who sacrificed their lives to give us an independent India one in which we decide our own fate and shape the combined destiny of our country.
This is most likely my last message to you all as Prime Minister of India. And this time I do not want to read my speech but speak to you from my heart, particularly the youth of this country, as a father, brother, uncle and a friend, most of all a fellow Indian.
Nehruji and Indiraji were great communicators. I am not. I am sorry for this. But in the process I could not give a loud voice to some of my personal thoughts through the written speeches I used to read on occasions.
Today, my dear youth, there is enough happening, some of it generated by us directly, which is apparently unethical. You are all observing it and also bearing its consequences. My concern is the impact these may be having on you. Some of you may choose to be copycats and think these are the right ways of serving the nation or some of you may totally reject these and decide to be the change! I hope you choose the change option.
Invaders among us
Your history books must have told you that India was the richest country in the world. Enough research establishes this. This is why it was plundered thrice over by invaders. The tragedy is that after Independence, we continued to do the same from within our own selves. Instead of focusing on nation and character-building, many in powerful positions became like the past invaders. This is why the once-richest country is as per international comparisons at the bottom of several human development indexes. We have the scourge of poverty, illiteracy, disease, hunger, deprivation, homelessness, and broken-down infrastructure and rampant corruption. We have grown in numbers but not in nation and character-building.
Hence, I urge you not to copy us. Do not follow the path of dishonesty and breach of trust. Learn early in life to be trustworthy while being grateful for what you have.
Vote for the nation
My second message to you: given the current scenario; differentiate between a nation-builder and vote dealer. We are the world's largest voter democracy in numbers but not a participative democracy. Since the Lok Sabha elections are not far, ensure that you are registered as voters and are on the electoral rolls. And that you have the voter identity card and go out to vote. This is a must if you want to be a youth force to be reckoned with. Be alert on what basis you vote: caste, faith, region, gender, fear or an incentive of any form. Make the distinction. Do not get trapped. Rise above these and vote only for nation-building, where the interest of the country comes first. Take this responsibility for your family, friends, class, neighbourhood, school, village, office, or any other organisation you may be a member of. Do not fall prey to predators of your votes. They will take your vote and then divide you. They keep you poor, distracted and dependent. Then they lure you with freebies. You are not beggars. Take nothing for free. You are voters who decide who will serve you and in what manner.
My next request to all my young citizens is value education with skills. You are wealth creators. Seek out skill learning along with education. Indians were/are known for creativity and hard work. Make the maximum use of what we have nearby or afar. Become job creators and not mere job seekers. India is at the threshold of becoming the world's largest youth power. If it is skilled and educated, it could be the world's largest human pool of skilled professionals for aging countries of the West. Imagine then there would be no shortage of foreign exchange.
My countrymen, India is considered to be the most unsafe place for women. This is a big shame on all of us. You as parents, teachers, policemen, legislators, film-makers, mediapersons, employers, public officials, judges have to change it.
As boys, you learn to be more responsible and as girls, you grow up with courage to challenge any discrimination. Collectively, you will make the nation strong and safe.
If you join a public service or any post, remember you are joining to serve the country, not to do business; the higher the position, the bigger the responsibility. This is where many of us went wrong. We deviated from our missionary path and somehow forgot our enormous responsibility of keeping trust.
If you join politics, it is to serve the people with a missionary zeal and not to amass wealth. If you do business, it is for wealth generation with quality products, not only to make quick profits. If it is for teaching, it is to shape life skills. Be it any profession; remember that there is a higher purpose to it. Do not lose sight of it.
Every time you see your elders make a mistake, be alert. Ensure you have the personal skills to reject them.
If you will repeat the mistakes we have made, then your future will be bleaker than the present. We continue to grow in numbers without worthwhile resources to match our needs. You will spend all your life at the bare minimum. There will be inequality, strife and exploitation. You will always be at risk.
I know you will not easily forget or forgive us for our misdeeds. What happens to those of us who made mistakes, only time will tell!
But as a well-wisher, I say that you now owe it to yourself to be your own path-finders in character and nation-building. Be wise and united.
For the rest of my countrymen, support the youth in being a strong backbone of our nation. Facilitate them to be the change which you wish to see today, in us! If you do this, they will take care of your present and future! As also of the country. Jai Hind.