Significance of Red Fort in India’s independence

Indian prime ministers address public every year on Independence Day from ramparts of Red Fort, a mosaic of Indo-Turkish architecture

NEW DELHI (AA) – On eve of the 75th Independence Day of India on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the public from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort eighth time since he came to power in 2014.

Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in red and white stone, representing the peak of Indo-Turkish architecture, the Red Fort in old Delhi has served as a seat of power from 1638-1857.
Historians recall that Mughal Emperors used to appear from the rampart of the fort, on special occasions to allow the subjects to see them.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, professor of History at Aligarh Muslim University said the Red Fort has played a significant role in the first unsuccessful war of independence in 1857, and those arrested were imprisoned in the fort.

Further after 1857 the last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar was thrown out of the fort and exiled far away in Burma (Myanmar).

“After the 1857 revolt, the British union jack was hoisted on the fort to announce the complete British authority on India. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru choose the fort to hoist Indian tricolor and lower union jack to announce the country’s independence in 1947,” he said.

Knowing well that Indians are fond of traditions, he revived the practice of standing on the ramparts of the fort to address the public every year. But unlike Mughal Emperors, Nehru chose Independence Day to unfurl the national tricolor and address a public gathering.

He hoisted the flag on the Red Fort 17 times. However, the first time the flag was hoisted was not on Aug. 15, but a day later on Aug. 16, 1947.

Every prime minister in India has used the speech from the Red Fort to announce public welfare schemes and to give an overview of the government’s policies and programs.

Modi announcements

Incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced new initiatives like clean India, digital India, extending banking coverage to the poor, and abolition of Planning Commission, etc. from the Red Fort. The Planning Commission was an agency of the government established in 1950 to oversee the country’s economic and social development, chiefly through the formulation of five-year plans and allocate funds to states.

Writer and journalist Anil Chamadia, who has been keeping track of Modi’s Independence Day speeches said in 2014, the prime minister had vowed to make the country a developed nation in 10 years. In 2016 from the same podium, he aimed to make the Indian economy rank number three in the world.

“Prime Minister presents his report card every year to the people from the Red Fort. But his job is not to present the report card, but to give direction and promote the democratic value and to recall the legacy of the freedom movement in new contexts. But we do not see all this in his speeches,” he said.

Sarvesh Dutt Tripathi, assistant professor at Delhi-based Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University said instead of making political announcements, the Independence Day address was marked by taking pledges.

“Announcements were not a part of the prime minister’s earlier speeches, but no announcements are made in it. We have to wait and see if the majority of them get implemented,” he said.


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