After a decade, a different pair of hands unfurled the Tricolour from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort this Independence Day and the change was visible in more ways than one. Though a few traditions were done away with, a quintessential patriotic flavour once again permeated the massive gathering assembled to celebrate the 68 edition of the event on Friday.
One of the noticeable features this year was the absence of the bullet-proof glass shield on the podium. Perhaps, the unprecedented security cover provided by the Delhi Police compensated for missing shield. After paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat, the Prime Minister arrived with his cavalcade at the Red Fort at 7-27 a.m. where he was received by Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh. The customary 21-gun salute and unfurling of National Flag followed next.
In his maiden Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a chord with the crowd. The applause that greeted his introduction of himself as the Pradhan Sevak of the country was to become a recurring theme during the 64-minute speech – the second longest Independence Day speech delivered by an Indian Prime Minister. (The record still stands in the name of country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru). As Mr. Modi mentioned one socio-political challenge after the other and suggested his own remedies, the crowd expressed its approval with thunderous clapping. And those in attendance had come from all parts of the city and were helped in their commute by special services provided by the Delhi Transport Corporation and the Delhi Metro. The venue had seating arrangements for 26,000 people. This included separate enclosures for VVIPs and VIPs.