On Parakram Diwas on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a ceremony to name the 21 largest unnamed islands of Andaman & Nicobar Islands after 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees via video conferencing.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, the prime minister said the renaming of the islands not only honoured the Param Vir Chakra awardees but also the Indian Army which is defending the country’s borders in far flung areas, on the mountains and in the seas, every moment.
The Indian Army had to fight wars just after Independence and prove its mettle, he said. It was the duty of the nation to recognise its services and sacrifices appropriately and widely. Today the nation is fulfilling that expectation and the nation is getting its identity from the names of the jawans and the Army, the Prime Minister said.
The prime minister lamented the efforts of the previous governments in recognising the country’s potential due to decades of inferiority complex and lack of self-confidence, especially due to distorted ideological politics.
“Whether it is our Himalayan states, especially the Northeast, or the oceanic island regions like Andaman and Nicobar, the development in such areas was neglected for decades as these were deemed remote, inaccessible and irrelevant areas,” he remarked.
He observed that the account of the number of islands and islets in India was not maintained. Giving examples of developed island nations like Singapore, Maldives, and Seychelles, Modi noted that the geographical area of these nations is less than that of Andaman and Nicobar but they have reached new heights with the right use of their resources
He underlined that the islands of India have similar potential and the country is moving forward in this direction. He gave the example of connecting Andaman with fast internet through ‘submarine optical fibre’ which is giving rise to digital payments and other complex services and benefiting the tourists. “Now natural balance and modern resources are being taken forward together in the country”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister highlighted the work done in the last eight years and said that the number of tourists visiting the Andamans has doubled in 2022 as compared to 2014. He noted the boost in employment and income related to tourism. He drew attention to the fact that the identity of the place is also getting diversified as curiosity about the history of independence related to Andamans is also increasing. “Now people are also coming here to know and live the history”, he said.
The prime minister said the first government of Independent India was formed in this part of the country in 1943 and the country is recognising this with pride. He noted that the country paid homage to Netaji by hoisting the flag at the Red Fort on the completion of 75 years of the formation of the Azad Hind Government.
He lamented that the Andamans’ identity was associated with symbols of slavery instead of memories of the freedom struggle and said, “Even the names of our islands had the imprint of slavery.”
The Prime Minister recalled his visit to Port Blair four-five years ago to rename the three main islands and informed, “Today Ross Island has become Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, Havelock and Neil Islands have become Swaraj and Shaheed Islands.”
He noted that the names Swaraj and Shaheed were given by Netaji himself but no importance was given even after Independence. “When the Azad Hind Fauj government completed 75 years, our government reinstated these names,” he said.
Modi emphasised the demand to declassify files related to Netaji’s life for decades and noted that the work was done with full devotion. “Today, the grand statue of Netaji in front of our democratic institutions and Kartavya Path is reminding us of our duties,” he said.