My beloved countrymen and women,
I address you collectively, not just as citizens of a nation, but as individuals capable of great things, each with the strength to do whatever he/she must to help the nation grow, each with the power to nurture, to empower and to support those less fortunate.
I request you all to take a look at what surrounds you, to pause for a moment, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Remember that the air you breathe carries with it the scent of 1.34 billion people, a multitude of religions, of languages, of cultures and traditions. It holds the courage of all those soldiers who have fought for us, the dreams of the farmers who feed us, the sweat of the workers who have built the roads we travel on, and the trust placed in us by those who fought for our freedom fighters; because of whom I stand here today. Do not forget to carry them along as you move ahead towards your goals.
When India had the choice to frame itself into whatever form it wished to be, it chose to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. The founders of India had envisaged a nation which gives people the right to practice their own faith based on their own free will, which treats its citizens equally, irrespective of their social class and background, which provides equal justice and equal opportunities to all its citizens.
They dreamt of a nation that will bloom into an ever-growing amalgamation of cultures, traditions, opinions and spirits, all the while creating a safe-space for differences within. I ask you to take a moment to think. Are we living up to those expectations? Would those, who laid down their lives for our independence be proud of us today? We are accountable to their sacrifices and answerable to ourselves. I want to remind you that our identity lies in our power to respect, to protect and uplift others. Even those who are not the same as us.
Today, we live in an age where more than anything else, we need each other to grow in whichever direction our choices take us. These choices define us, and I hope that all of us make choices that give us, and those around us the opportunity to live up to our highest potential. I hope that the choices we make as a country are those that allow everyone to live a life of mutual trust, mutual respect and complete safety. I hope that the decisions we take as nation-builders are those that only take us forward.
After seven decades of living on land that holds upon it soil that has tasted freedom, I feel privileged. I feel fortunate to have been a part of that land that has nurtured the plants that grow upon it and the people that live upon it. India has always fought for what she believes in. She has been a nation that struggles for what she must be, and I stand here to remind you that we need to continue the struggle.
Eshaa Wahie is currently a 12th grade student of Lotus Valley international School, Gurgaon. She is also the Mentor of the Editorial Board of her School Student Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org