On the eve of India’s independence 69 years ago, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had made an epic speech around midnight to mark this historic event:
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
Almost seven decades later, Indians still remember the tough battle their valiant ancestors had fought to liberate this ancient nation of great glory from the clutches of the British Empire. In doing so, they became pioneers in attaining liberation through nationwide non-violent movements of civil disobedience under the staunch leadership of a common-man turned legend, Mahatma Gandhi.
The same feeling of pride and unity reverberated amongst the hundreds gathered at the Consulate General of India premises in Toronto to celebrate this momentous anniversary of their beloved motherland. “Bharat Mata Ki Jai Ho!” they cheered unanimously when Consul General, Mr. Akhileh Mishra, took the stage surrounded by his family, staff, and guest of honour, Mr. John Tory, the Mayor of Toronto. As soon as the tricolor was unfurled, the emotionally charged crowd burst into loud chanting of the National Anthem, Jan Gan Man… Mr. Mishra commenced his address to the audience by congratulating everybody present and thanking them for joining the festivities. He also read the Indian President, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee’s message to people of Indian descent living in Toronto. Quoting Dr. Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, Mr. Mishra said: “The working of the constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the constitution. The constitution can provide only the organs of State such as the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The factors on which the working of those organs of the State depends are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics.” Mr. Mishra also quoted Gandhi by saying, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” The Consul’s speech was a good mix of English of Hindi and drew loud applauses form the audience. Toronto Mayor, Mr. John Tory spoke next, confident that relations between Canada and India were fortifying constantly—a welcome departure from the past. He confessed that he was deeply impressed by the rich culture he experienced during his stay in a variety of Indian metropolis like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Amritsar. He also appreciated Mr. Mishra for providing efficient and speedy consular services. Regretting his inability to attend the evening celebrations due to the closing of the Para Pan Am games being hosted in Toronto, Mayor Tory said he was very glad to have been an intrinsic part of the flag hoisting ceremony on the anniversary that made India the largest democracy of the world. Acknowledging the wealth of contributions by people of Indian origin in Canada, he thanked them for their part in making Toronto the best place to live according to a recent report published by the Economist.
The zealous festivities were concluded by a brunch comprising cool beverages to go with traditional Indian cuisine and desserts.