Addressing faculty and students at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, on Thursday, Vice President Hamid Ansari said the image of the modern Indian nation and the values that shape and continue inform it on Thursday, were cast in the crucible of the struggle for independence from British colonial rule, and added that much of the gain from the movement is enshrined in the Constitution and continues to enlighten the political and judicial discourse in India.
“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.
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India, the vice president said, was blessed by the fact that a set of people of incredible talent and wisdom graced the period marking its struggle for freedom.
“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 said the 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.
“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.
He urged the youth to have a sense of history and know that the present environment encourages their aspirations.
He concluded his address by saying that both Nigeria and India, as large developing countries with multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies, have enormous responsibilities in shaping the future of their region and beyond.