The 65th Independence Day celebrations began at 8am at the Administration Block. The road was lined with potted plants and the stage was decorated with a large tricolor, flanked on either side with rows of saffron and white flowers. The raised podium was carpeted red and ready for the Director, Dr. Bhaskar Ramamurthi to march on, escorted by the IITM Security.
Immediately before the stage were three companies of officers, standing in rapt attention. Upon a curt command, they saluted the National Flag. The space before the stage was packed with students, staff, visitors, residents, and playful kurta-clad children. The turnout was unexpectedly large, and people had to occupy the streets outside the block.
After the National Anthem, the Director addressed the audience. “For a future looking generation, everything looks as it always was.” – he said, as he commenced his speech. He went on to discuss events that occurred a hundred years ago and spoke of a variety of topics, from Gandhi and Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar’s education in Political Science, the Gadar Party in San Francisco to the translation of the Gita into English by Rabindranath Tagore.
He then highlighted that while there were no visible signs of our “tryst with destiny” at that time, Swami Vivekananda had predicted a free India within the next fifteen years. The Director stressed on the Swami’s definition of National Ideals – his encouragement to have faith, a thirst for social reform and economic growth, and to strive for self-reliance. He went on to tell the audience of Swami’s three guidelines: conviction, the absence of jealousy and suspicion, and the urge to help people who are doing good. He also appreciated the extreme dedication of the students who put together this Independence Day event, which was met with a resounding applause.
The vocal performances in various languages started off with Mrs. Lakshmi Sriram’s classical rendition of Vande Mataram, accompanied by the flute and tabla. Next, the students sang “Jayastute”, a song written by a freedom fighter, accompanied by the harmonium and tabla. An emotional “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” escaped from a vocalist at the end of the recital, and was met with a proud chorus of “Jai!” from the audience. The Tamil song, “Shanti Nilava Vendum” was supported by the beats of a dhol and followed by a Kannada song with lyrics by Vijay Narasingham. Next, the Bengali song, “Sheje Amar Jamnabhumi” was sung, followed by the Sanskrit song “Manasa Satatam Smaraniyam.” After that came the Hindi song “Dil diya hai, jaan bhi denge”, the Malayalam song “Raga Mallika”, and finally the Telegu song “Desham manade”.
Tricolour badges were distributed to the audience, and the sight of so many wearing their hearts on their sleeves was a fitting end to the ceremony.