NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra
on Thursday celebrated the renaming of
’ and installation of the statue of
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
at the India Gate canopy as historical milestones towards erasure of colonial domination as well as testimonies to the emergence of India as a resurgent nation.
“Rajpath, earlier known as Kingsway (before Independence), the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever. Today a new history has been created in the form of Kartavya Path. I congratulate all the countrymen for their freedom from yet another identity of slavery, in this ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence,” the PM said, furthering the thrust on removing all marks of colonial domination — one of the five pledges he had spelt out during his August 15 address to make India a developed nation by 2047.
“Now when parliamentarians, ministers and officers go on the ‘Kartavya Path’, they would be reminded of their duties and will get inspired,” Modi said.
He said while Rajpath symbolised the power of the ruler, ‘Kartavya Path’ represented the sense of duty as well as the spirit of public ownership and empowerment. Rajpath was for the British Raj to which the people of India were slaves, he said.
The PM also said the installation of a 28-foot-high granite statue of
at the India Gate canopy, under which the statue of British monarch George V once stood, marked the abolition of another sign of “ghulami” (slavery). He called Netaji “Rashtra Nayak” (leader of the nation), potentially putting the legendary freedom fighter on an even higher pedestal and said that the country would have risen higher if it had followed his ideas.
Saying that installation of Netaji’s statue symbolises the determination of a strong India, Modi said: “After independence, if our country would have followed his footsteps, India would have achieved different heights. But unfortunately, this great hero of ours was forgotten after Independence. His ideas, even the symbols associated with them, were ignored.”
The PM was speaking at a glittering ceremony marked by laser shows, enthusiastic performance by cultural troupes and recital of a vintage patriotic song. Nationalism hung heavy with Modi stressing that the statue and the redeveloped pathway and India Gate lawns represented more than physical structures. They stood for a conscious effort to delete the stamp of colonial occupation and to establish the ascendance of the nationalist spirit of a strong and confident India.
“The spirit of Rajpath was also a symbol of slavery, its structure was also a symbol of slavery,” the PM said in what sounded like a powerful riposte to the murmurs that the renaming marked tinkering with history. He referred to a series of decisions taken by the government — renaming of Andaman Islands after Netaji; rechristening Race Course Road where the PM’s official residence is located as Lok Kalyan Marg; and introduction of Indian musical instruments for ceremonies of Independence Day and Beating Retreat ceremony to expunge colonial signatures.
On the recent decision of changing the flag and new ensign of Indian Navy, he said, “The Indian Navy has also adopted Chhatrapati Shivaji’s symbol and shed the symbol of ghulami. These changes are not limited to symbols. These changes are a part of the country’s foundations.” Modi also made it clear that there would be no stopping of the attempt at decolonisation. “This is neither the beginning or end of the government’s focus to erase the images of colonialism.”
He further said: “Today India’s ideals and dimensions are its own. Today India’s resolve is its own and its goals are its own. Today our paths are ours, our symbols are our own. Today Rajpath ceases to exist and has become Kartavya Path. Today when the statue of Netaji has replaced the mark of the statue of George V, this is not the first example of the abandonment of slavish mentality. This is neither the beginning nor the end. It is a continuous journey of determination till the goal of freedom of mind and spirit is achieved.”
Modi said that with the revamp of the stretch, its architecture and also its spirit has changed. The project is a sign of how the country is leaving behind the past and painting a new picture of the future. “When people come here, Netaji’s statue and the National War Memorial will inspire them,” he said.
On the statue of Netaji, he said the statue of King George V symbolised the British rule. He regretted that the contributions of Netaji had so far not been adequately acknowledged and emphasised that the BJP government under him had done more to honour the charismatic leader of the freedom struggle. “We opened a museum of Netaji and his Indian National Army at the Red Fort, we also renamed the islands in the Andamans, where he had hoisted the flag of the INA, after him.”
Modi said Netaji’s statue at the ‘Kartavya Path’ will become a source of inspiration and his government has taken decisions that bear the impression of Netaji’s ideals in the past eight years.
The PM also expressed special gratitude towards the workers engaged in the project for their contribution to the redevelopment of the stretch. He said he has invited all of them with their family members to be his ‘special guest’ at the next Republic Day Parade. Modi announced workers engaged in the new Parliament Building project will get a place of honour in one of its galleries.
Earlier, speaking at the event, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said after Independence, for the first time, the biggest transformational project of the country is being done under Modi’s leadership.