The incumbent, 14th President of India, Ram Nath Kovind addressed the nation on the eve of 71st Independence Day on Monday.

Since he assumed office, it was his first Independence Day address to the nation.

In the speech he said, “Gandhiji was not alone in this nationwide struggle for freedom and reform. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exhorted our people, saying: “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”. At his word, millions of Indians joined the freedom movement under his leadership and gave their all.”

He stressed on the idea of progressive nation building as one. When India was struggling tobreak free, our then freedom fighters took the lead and showed us the light. Similarly, today to build a progressive nation, it is important that we stand as one and emerge winners with flying colours.

Also Read: PM NARENDRA MODI’S ADDRESS FROM RED FORT ON 71ST INDEPENDENCE DAY

Here is the full text of the speech by President Ram Nath Kovind;

My greetings to you as we complete 70 years of our Independence

Our country will be celebrating its 71st Independence Day tomorrow. On the eve of this anniversary I extend my good wishes to all of you.

On August 15, 1947, we became a free nation. Sovereignty and the responsibility for our destiny moved from the British crown to the people of India. Some have called this process a “transfer of power”.

It was much more than that. It was the culmination of a dream for our country – a dream seen by our forefathers and freedom fighters. We were free to imagine and build our nation anew.

It is crucial to understand that this dream for a free India was rooted in our ordinary villages, in the well-being of our poor and underprivileged, and in the all-round development of our country.

For this we owe so much to the countless freedom fighters who made great sacrifices to bring us here.

Chennamma, the Rani of Kittur. Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Matangini Hazra, the heroine and martyr of the Quit India Movement. There are so many examples.

Matangini Hazra was an elderly woman, into her 70s. She was shot by the colonial police in Tamluk, in Bengal, while leading a peaceful protest march. She died with “Vande Mataram” on her lips and with the hope of a free India in her heart.

Freedom fighters like Sardar Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Birsa Munda and thousands of others gave their lives for us. We can never forget them.

From the earliest days of our freedom struggle, we were blessed with a galaxy of revolutionary leaders who guided our country.

They spoke of not just political freedom. Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the moral character of India and of Indian society. The principles that Gandhiji spoke about are relevant even today.

Gandhiji was not alone in this nationwide struggle for freedom and reform. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exhorted our people, saying: “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”. At his word, millions of Indians joined the freedom movement under his leadership and gave their all.

Nehruji emphasised that India’s age-old heritage and traditions – so dear to us – could co-exist with technology and a quest to modernise our society.

Sardar Patel instilled in us the importance of national unity and integrity. And of a disciplined national character.

Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar urged upon us the virtues of constitutional governance, of the rule of law – and of the vital need for education.

I have given only a few examples of illustrious leaders. I could give you many more. The generation that brought us to freedom was diverse. They were men and women who represented all parts of our country and a variety of political and social thought.

We need to draw inspiration from such brave freedom fighters, many of whom sacrificed even their lives for the country. We need to invoke the same spirit today in the task of nation building.