In the backdrop of events enacting the historic events leading to the uprising in 1857 against the British rule at Red Fort, country's top leaders on Friday asked the citizens to take inspiration from the martyrs for building a strong and unified India that can achieve the goal of all around development.
President APJ Abdul Kalam set 2020 as a target for India achieving the status of a 'developed country' where rural India has similar facilities like urban India and poverty is eradicated. "When the prime minister delivers the Independence Day speech in 2020 from Red Fort, India should be a developed nation and not a developing nation," Kalam said, while identifying five key areas for development. They were agriculture, education, information and communication, basic facilities like transport for rural areas at par with urban areas and backwards' regions becoming self sufficient with industrial growth.
He also asked youth to take a pledge for a second "freedom struggle" against inequalities in the country to achieve the targets specified by him. The seven-point oath delivered included a promise to live a transparent and corruption free life and become an example for others.
Delivering his speech in Hindi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, India was moving from an age of social and economic changes along with the entire world and urged the people to join hands to take India ahead of the rest of the globe. "It would be true homage to the martyrs of the Independence struggle," he said.
The PM also recalled that 150 years ago the doors of Red Fort were opened to allow revolutionary soldiers and thus, the First War of Independence started, which ignited the rest of India for 90 years before India got Independence.
The celebrations held under tight security was also attended by Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and union ministers including Arjun Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar.
The Red Fort complex was teeming with over 30,000 youth who marched 60 kms from Meerut to Delhi on foot to participate in the mega cultural event involving over 2,000 artistes. The "Jang-e-Azadi 1857" march, which was flagged off from Meerut on May 7, reached the capital on Thursday. The colourfully dressed youth hailed from various states. The event opened with a cultural event showcasing India's First War of Independence.