On 18 July 2016, I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, President of the Republic of India.
My meeting with the President was with regard to the work I had done with little children in the India-Bangladesh border and a couple of other community service initiatives taken up by me.
Stepping inside the magnificent edifice of the Rashtrapati Bhavan – the official residence of the President was absolutely surreal. Walking through the hallowed corridors of the Rashtrapati Bhavan with paintings of great Indian men and women like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Sarojini Naidu adorning the walls, stepping into rooms named after patriotic Indians like Tagore and Vivekananda, and standing before the mighty Indian Flag in the President’s office instilled in me a sense of patriotism that had perhaps become slightly rusty over the years.
Over the years, I had spent so much time focusing on all that my country was failing to achieve that I had completely neglected to appreciate all that it had achieved over the course of the last seventy years. Despite the disadvantages we started with, we have emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Whether it is in the field of science where India has made its mark through the various ISRO projects, in the field of arts where personalities like Satyajit Ray and Ravi Shankar have earned global recognition or in the field of sports where India has produced athletes like Sachin Tendulkar and Deepa Karmakar, who is currently making us very proud in the Rio Olympics. As other nations are only just opening up to the idea of female leaders and politicians, India stands proud having had both a female President and Prime Minister. We are now on our way to become the world’s third largest economy and if we have been able to do that in just seventy years, I cannot possibly fathom what more we can achieve in the next seventy or even thirty-five years.
I sincerely appeal to all fellow Indians, especially the youth to not idle away this day. We should remember that we are enjoying the fruits of the seeds sown by our forefathers – people who sacrificed their lives fighting for us. So, let us strive to be Indians worth fighting for. Be proud of who you are, not just for today. Make every day that you call this country your home count.