'Self-reliant India is the responsibility of every citizen, every government, every unit of society,' says Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI: India marked the 75th anniversary of independence on Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving a speech from Delhi's historic Red Fort, which was decorated with portraits of freedom fighters and guarded by mechanical elephants.
Following a 21-gun salute, reportedly executed using howitzers made domestically for the first time under Modi's "Make In India" industrial strategy, the prime minister said Indians should shed "colonialism in our minds and habits".
"Hundreds of years of colonialism has restricted our sentiments, distorted our thoughts. When we see even the smallest thing related to colonialism in us or around us, we have to be rid of it," Modi said in a 90-minute speech from the ramparts of the fort in the Indian capital.
Wearing a cream-coloured turban speckled with the colours of the Indian flag, Modi also said India should crush the "termite" of corruption and nepotism, follow an "India First" mantra and ensure that "in speech and conduct, we do nothing that lowers a woman's dignity".
"Self-reliant India is the responsibility of every citizen, every government, every unit of society," he said.
The "Jewel in the Crown" of the British Empire became independent in 1947 after two centuries of colonial occupation and exploitation.
With Britain in dire financial straits at the end of World War II - in which about 90,000 Indian soldiers died -- the country was hurriedly split in two: Muslim-majority Pakistan and a mostly Hindu India.