A perky Jai Hind; a speech sans applause (I-Day sidelights)

August 15th, 2011 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Most people have got used to the rather dour manner in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivers his speeches, except when he consciously chooses to be combative. Combative he certainly was not while addressing the nation from the Red Fort on Independence Day Monday, but the moment certainly seems to have got to him as he concluded the speech with three extremely perky “Jai Hinds” that caught many by surprise.

Usually, he would raise his right first in the air and urge the audience in a tone no different from the speech to say “Jai Hind’ thrice after him. This time around, he punched his fist forward and raised his voice by more than a notch as he went through the exercise.

Not surprisingly, the schoolchildren seated below the ramparts of the Red Fort and to whom the appeal was addressed, responded enthusiastically.

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Where was the applause?

Usually, the prime minister is cheered on quite a few occasions during the Independence Day speech, which lasts in the region of 30 minutes. This time around, there wasn’t even a single round of applause.

Was this because of the steady downpour or because it was heavy on concepts and thus not too audience-friendly? The jury’s out on this one.

To be fair, a huge roar did go up as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived at the Red Fort for the flag hoisting ceremony before delivering his speech.

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Rains fail to dampen spirits

Rains lashed the national capital on Independence Day but this did not dampen the spirits of the spectators who arrived early morning at the Red Fort for the customary flag hoisting and address to the nation by the prime minister.

The crowd, consisting mostly of schoolchildren, arrived well before time and waited patiently for Manmohan Singh to arrive.

It was a flood of umbrellas and raincoats, as dignitaries and commoners tried to protect themselves from the downpour. Umbrellas, which are usually not allowed due to security reasons, were out in abundance but even so, many were seen braving the rains without any umbrella, drenched head to toe.

Transparent rain coats were provided to the schoolchildren, who were dressed in the saffron, white and green of the tricolour.

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Soldiers brave rain

Even as the dignitaries and spectators present donned umbrellas and raincoats, the combined armed forces and police contingent that provided the guard of honour had to brave the rain without any protection.

But then, that’s what the men in uniform are all about - come rain or shine, they stand and serve with nary a complaint.

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In the end, I-Day venue a garbage dump

Sadly, at the end of the Independence Day celebrations, the Red Fort venue turned into a virtual garbage dump.

Food packets, empty chips’ wrapers and banana peels, to mention just a few, dotted the ground, adding to the mess created by the heavy rains. Last year, the prime minister had emphasised on maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, which was immediately reflected as the venue remained rather clean.

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