Putin, Biden, Macron, and other leaders send Independence Day messages

In a break from the past, PM makes no reference to foreign policy, and challenges from Pakistan, China in his speech

August 15, 2022 04:58 pm | Updated 09:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. File

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. File | Photo Credit: AP

India’s place on the world stage is “rightfully” earned, said Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of a number of congratulatory messages the government received on India’s 76th Independence Day on Monday. While U.S. President Joseph Biden lauded Indian democracy, guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s message of “truth and non violence”, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s call to Indians in 1947. Both French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Boris Johnson sent messages of congratulations in English and Hindi.

India also received messages from the neighbourhood, including Bhutan, whose PM Lotay Tshering wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, calling this a “historic” moment for India that “reinforces the global significance of diversity for a society to progress”, and from Maldives Foreign Minister and U.N. General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid.

At a function in Delhi to commemorate the assassination of Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975, Bangladesh High Commissioner Muhammad Imran began by congratulating India on Independence Day and speaking of the strength of bilateral ties. In Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, “India is today becoming a world power; that is a tribute to Pandit Nehru”, referring to Nehru’s “tryst with destiny” speech.

Significantly, in his 82-minute speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of global conflict but made no reference to the Indian foreign policy, a departure from the past speeches at the Red Fort when Mr. Modi has spoken of India’s bilateral ties, challenges from cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, or the problem in Balochistan, as well as transgressions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by China.

Also read | The race of two Asian giants

“In the period of ‘holier than thou’ mentality, today the world is facing a severe crisis due to conflicts caused by the attitude of one one-upmanship -- the reason for all tensions,” PM Modi said, referring to the Indian philosophy of accepting several manifestations of truth as the way to resolve these tensions.

In Delhi, several embassies marked the day by sending greeting videos on social media. While the Japanese embassy, led by Ambassador Satoshi Suzuki, released a rendition of the national anthem “Jana gana mana” performed around a tree planted by the Japanese Emperor and Empress during a visit to India in 1960, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong, who attended PM Modi’s speech and the ceremony at the Red Fort on Monday morning as part of a large diplomatic contingent, extended congratulations to the government. “Spirit of Independence is a legacy shared by Chinese & Indian peoples, which will be cherished & carried forward,” he tweeted.

Putin writes to PM, President

“India rightfully enjoys considerable prestige on the world stage and plays an important constructive role in resolving pressing issues on the international agenda,” wrote Mr. Putin in a joint letter to President Draupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said India-Russia cooperation would strengthen “security and stability at the regional and global level”.

In his speech on Monday, Mr. Modi also referred to the India-Russia joint venture for the production of the Brahmos (short for Brahmaputra-Moscow) missile, which is now being exported to the Philippines, as part of India’s push for self-reliance. “Which Indian wouldn’t be proud when our Brahmos is exported to the world?” Mr. Modi asked.

Also read: India at 75 | Self-reliance in India and the 4IR

Indispensable partners: Biden

In a statement issued in Washington, Mr. Biden said that India and the U.S. are “indispensable partners” with a “shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity”. “In the years ahead our two democracies will continue to stand together to defend the rules-based order; foster greater peace, prosperity and security for our people; advance a free and open Indo-Pacific; and together address the challenges we face around the world,” he added.

Addressing a tweet to his “dear friend” PM Modi and the “dear people of India”, Mr. Macron said that as India celebrates its “stunning” achievements in the past 75 years, it “can count on France to always stand by your side”.

“The emergence of the world’s largest democracy and the achievements made by independent India have been remarkable,” said Australian PM Albanese, remembering his travels to India as a student, and to his meeting with Mr. Modi at the Quad Summit in Tokyo in May.

U.K. PM Boris Johnson also said that he had witnessed the “living bridge” of people-to-people ties between India and the U.K. during his visit this year to India.

A video on India’s journey through 75 years as an independent nation | Video Credit: The Hindu Bureau

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