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70TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDIA'S INDEPENDENCE

Striding forward confidently

Message from Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj

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India has emerged as the world's largest democracy and its fastest growing major economy, says Ms Swaraj.

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INDIA is at a historic milestone of the 70th anniversary as an independent nation. For 1.25 billion people, it is a moment to reflect on the joys of freedom, the blessings of opportunities and the progress of a remarkable journey.

We are a young republic founded on an ancient civilisation. We were born through peaceful movement and painful partition. We came together amid unparallelled diversities and unmatched challenges.

But, guided by our timeless ethos and values, and the ideals written into our constitution, we have moved forward as one nation and one people. We have nurtured our diversity, empowered the weak and placed the welfare of the poorest at the heart of our economic choices. We have overcome many challenges. We have notched many successes, from addressing hunger and disease to touching the frontiers of space.

Simply put, India has emerged as the world's largest democracy and its fastest growing major economy. Scepticism of many in the world at our birth has now given way to a universal recognition of India as one of the anchors of global peace and prosperity.

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Yet, we know that challenges persist in the unfulfilled hopes of millions. But, our journey so far gives us confidence for the road ahead. And, at 70, we move forward with new resolve, energy and enterprise.

It comes not just from the 800 million youth of India but from a new mandate of hope and change that our government received three years ago. And, in this short period, the process of transforming India has become visible. When India turns 75, we want each citizen to be independent from every barrier and want and to enjoy freedom of boundless opportunities.

The success of one-sixth of humanity makes the world a better place. It is not just because of the economic opportunities it creates, but even more because the world that India is striving to build is mirrored in our ideals - of peace, inclusion, justice, democracy, rule of law and sustainability.

Our journey so far - even more so in the last two decades - has been enriched by the partnership and good wishes of our friends. Singapore ranks among the closest. Connected by history and human bonds, we have been forever united as free nations by the symbolic immersion of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi in the waters of Singapore. In India, Singapore's success is a source of joy and inspiration. Built on our shared values and interests, and our belief in sovereign equality of all nations irrespective of size, our partnership will contribute to a better future for our countries and our world.

This is a year of other milestones. Asean has turned 50. We are also celebrating 25 years of India-Asean Partnership. Our South-east Asian neighbours rank among India's highest priorities. In this year of anniversaries, we must rededicate ourselves to build on the foundations of an ancient relationship a defining partnership for our shared future.

I am delighted to share India's joy on this anniversary with the friendly people of Singapore. I extend my greetings to the Indian community in Singapore. I hope it will continue to contribute to Singapore's progress and its wonderful multi-cultural society.

I thank The Business Times for bringing out a supplement on the occasion of India's 70th anniversary of Independence.

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