The Vice President of India, M. Hamid Ansari has said that independent India is a faithful reflection of the legacy of our national movement. He was delivering the Lecture at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, today. The Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Prof. Rahamon A. Bello, the Acting Governor of the State of Lagos, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
He said that the image of the modern Indian nation and the values that shape and continue inform it today, were cast in the crucible of our struggle for independence from colonial rule or what we now call the Indian National Movement. Much of the gain from the movement is enshrined in our Constitution and continues to enlighten the political and judicial discourse in India, he added.
Mr. Ansari said that our national movement was more than a struggle for independence – it was an exercise in building a nation. It was not just a movement to replace a colonial regime and deliver political power to Indians but was aimed at using that power to secure social and economic justice, and dignity, for every Indian, he pointed out. The movement is perhaps one of the best examples of the creation of an extremely wide movement with a common aim in which diverse political and ideological currents could co-exist and work, and simultaneously continue to contend for overall ideological and political hegemony over it, he added.
He added that India was blessed that a set of people of incredible talent and wisdom graced the period marking our struggle. They possessed moral integrity of the highest order; the tallest among them was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, whose singular efforts transformed the struggle from a campaign by the elites into a true mass movement, he added.
He also said that a defining feature of the movement were the values and modern ideals on which it was based and the broad socio-economic and political vision of its leadership – a vision of a democratic, civil libertarian and secular India, based on a self –reliant, egalitarian social order and an independent foreign policy. He further said that an aspect of its commitment to the creation of an egalitarian society was the national movement’s opposition to all forms of inequality, discrimination and oppression based on gender and caste. From its early days, the national movement was committed to secularism, he added.
He further said that our National Movement developed a broad international outlook based on opposition to colonialism and sympathy and support for people fighting for their independence. One of the lasting legacies of the national movement was the rise of Indian nationalism and the creation of an Indian identity, he pointed out. The youth should have a sense of history – and know that the present environment that encourages their aspirations was built on the sacrifice and toil of others before them. Nigeria and India, as large developing countries with multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies, have enormous responsibilities within their countries and in shaping the future of their region and beyond, he added.