We’ve come far….on the road to freedom!

Capt. Amarinder Singh,Chief Minister, Punjab | August 14, 2018 08:38 PM
We’ve come far….on the road to freedom!



15 th August – the day that remains etched in Indian history as that iconic moment when we, as a nation, became free. Free from the shackles
of British imperialism. Free to write our own Constitution and to script our
own future. And free to rule our country the way we want to. Yes, we
became free on this day, 72 years ago. Free to successfully realise our
vision to become a free political entity. And free to build the India of our
But have we really built the India of our dreams? As free Indians,
have we carved the nation that our great freedom fighters had laid their
lives for, and that we had dreamed of leaving behind for our children?
This is a question that many of us Indians, who have witnessed the
difficult and challenging transition from captivity to freedom at close hand,
are forced to ask ourselves today, as we see our beloved country getting
swallowed in the vortex of hatred, violence, divisiveness, inequality,
illiteracy, unemployment and pain. And it is a question that I, as a Punjabi,
ask myself when I see the people of my dear Punjab suffering from
problems that, unfortunately, had derailed the state’s growth trajectory
during the 10 years of SAD-BJP misrule.
Seventeen months ago, when I took over the reins of governance in
Punjab, I had the daunting task of bringing the state back from the brink. I

had vowed then to give the youth of Punjab the jobs they desperately
needed and deserved, so that they could become constructive members of
the society. I had promised to provide relief to the beleaguered farmers,
many of whom were being driven to suicide due to the huge burdens of
debt they were reeling under. I had assured then that I would bring back
the industries, which had fled the state in hordes during the previous
regime. I had vowed to put the state back on the path of economic
development, with equal opportunities for all citizens, irrespective of caste,
creed, religion etc. And I had pledged to free the people of Punjab from the
blanket of fear under which they had been smothered for 10 years.
I believed then, as I believe even more strongly now, that we owe this
to the great sons of our soil who sacrificed themselves at the altar of India’s
freedom struggle. That more than 80% of the warriors of the freedom
struggle came from Punjab is a matter of immense pride and satisfaction
for each of us. The first Indian to lay down his life to free our country was a
Punjabi - Bhai Maharaj Singh. Then followed a long string of courageous
Punjabis - Baba Ram Singh, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev,
Lala Lajpat Rai, Madan Lal Dhingra, Shaheed Udham Singh, Kartar Singh
Sarabha, Diwan Singh Kalepani and several others – who shed the last
drop of their blood to free India from British tyranny.
Today, as I join my fellow citizens in celebrating the 72nd
Independence Day anniversary, I can say, in full consciousness, that we
have come far in realizing the promises I, and each one of my colleagues,
had made to the people of Punjab 17 months back. Slowly but steadily, the
state’s fiscal position is being strengthened, to bring development back to
the forefront in Punjab, which had touched its nadir under the SAD-BJP
rule. We have been able to restore the confidence of the people by
reinforcing the law & order, and have started getting investments back into
the state. Several crores worth of investments have already come into the
state in the last one year and we are confident of achieving the target of
tripling the amount annually, at the back of our new industrial policy, which
is packed with various incentives and positive interventions for industry.
What’s more, we have been able to check the agonising downslide of
agriculture, and the destruction of the lives of many of our farmers, with our
historic decision to waive off loans for the poorest among them.

Incidentally, we have settled 3.03 lakh cases of marginal farmers who
had availed loans from cooperative banks totalling Rs. 1700 crore, and now
we are all set to settle the next set of 1.5 lakh cases of farm debt related to
cooperative banks, which are currently in the process of scrutiny. Very
soon, we shall initiate the process of collecting the data of farmers who
have availed loans from commercial banks to kickstart the second phase of
the waiver.
After a long and dark period, transparency, governance and
accountability have once again become the buzz words for the common
man of Punjab, who was fearful earlier of even thinking about these things,
leave alone questioning the erstwhile Akali-led government on these
issues. The jobless youth of our state are finally finding something to cheer
about, with more and more job opportunities being generated by my
government with the support of private enterprise and industry. I am happy
to share that our recent International Job Fair generated nearly 6000
overseas jobs for our youth, in addition to the 1.92 lakh employment
opportunities we have created within Punjab.
More importantly, we have, in the last 17 months, been able to break
the backbone of the drug mafia, which had emerged as one of the biggest
problems facing my government when we came to power in March 2017.
Significant strides have been made in wiping out the drug menace, as
manifest in the choking of the supply lines and in the large number of
addicts finding their way to the treatment and rehabilitation centres. And we
are well on way to getting rid of this problem completely, once and for all,
with the active participation and support of the people of the state.
All these steps, along with our multiple social welfare initiatives, our
various schemes for women empowerment, our aggressive focus on health
and education, our projects to drive infrastructure development, and our
thrust on creating equal opportunities for the progress of very section of the
society, have enabled us to bring a significant level of positivity in the
environment in Punjab.
However, in my opinion, what we have done so far is just a good
beginning. Because, as a Punjabi, I feel pained to see even a single person
in our state remaining hungry or ailing. It agonises me to hear of even one
death of a debt-ridden farmer or of a drug-addicted youngster. It hurts me

to see people being deprived of the basic necessities of life, and their basic
rights as citizens of this free nation.
To me, freedom, in the true sense of the word, would mean total
freedom from drugs, from debt burdens, from illiteracy, disease and
unemployment, from economic and social backwardness. It would mean
freedom from fear and insecurity, and freedom to cherish life as one wants
to. That is the vision, I believe, our great leaders had for independent India.
And that is the vision I carry in my heart for an independent and
progressive Punjab.
We Punjabis are known the world over for our grit, resilience, valour
and an indomitable spirit that never says die. It is this very spirit which
encourages me, on this historic day, to say, with confidence, that we will,
very soon, succeed in building the Punjab we all aspire to be a part of. We
have done it earlier, and, together, we shall do it again!

Jai Hind

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