Very few 13-year-olds get to talk to a prime minister. Karishma Kashyap and Naina, class 8 students from Sarvodaya School, had that special moment on Monday.
“He came to us and said ‘hi’. We greeted the Prime Minister. How cool is that? I will always remember this day,” said Karishma, dressed in a yellow shirt, pants and cap.
They were among the students in yellow-and-blue, who Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopped out of his car, to meet.
Even the ones who didn’t get to meet him can’t stop talking about him. “PM Modi said that children should not take the wrong path and go towards terrorism and violence. Instead, they should focus on fulfilling the dreams of their parents. It made me want to work hard and become a doctor or an engineer like my mother says,” said Sambhav Jain, a class 7 student from Jain Senior Secondary School in Daryaganj.
But children are not the only ones excited. People flocked from different parts of the country to hear Modi address the nation from the Red Fort.
Mahantesh Bajantri, 30, a UPSC aspirant, got his parents to Delhi from Belgaum in Karnataka, to see the event they had only seen on television. “I came to Delhi to prepare for UPSC and I decided to get my parents here for the event. They have never seen a political address before, so they were very excited,” he said.
Ankita Tiwari, 25, a fashion designer from Dehradun, Uttarakhand had been planning to attend the event for the past six years. “I did my graduation from Delhi and since then have wanted to be back for Independence Day. I decided to finally come and see it this year,” she said.
The hot sun and the long speech, however, drained some people’s enthusiasm. Halfway through the PM’s speech, seats started emptying out.
Sanaa, 23, who travelled to Delhi from Kanpur to see the Independence Day event up close, left before it ended. “I watch the Independence Day and the Republic Day events on TV every year and came to Delhi his year to see the actual event,” she said.
When Modi’s speech did not end by 8.30am, she and her friend bowed out. “I really wanted to sing the national anthem at the end, but it has become really hot and the speech just didn’t end,” said Sanaa, who goes by one name.
Prateek Gupta and Rohit Kapoor, who work with a telecom company in Gurgaon, were turned away as they were carrying cell phones, which were banned at the venue due to security reasons.
They sat under a tree near the first barricade to watch the event on a big screen but left 30 minutes into the speech when the heat became unbearable.
A government official, who did not want to be named, left the venue 20 minutes after the start of the 94-minutes speech. “A circular was issued making it mandatory for us to attend and though we all are proud of the celebration, it is better to watch it on TV,” he said.