Schoolchildren cheer PM with ‘Singh is King’ chant(Highlights of I-Day function at Red Fort)

August 15th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Affectionately chanting “Singh is King”, many of the 3,500 school students at the Red Fort here Friday appeared to say that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a source of inspiration for them. As the prime minister ended his 42-minute address to the nation and asked the children to chant “Jai Hind” thrice after him, the students gave him an immediate and loud response.

Soon after, a group of students chanted “Singh is king”, the popular song of a Bollywood movie.

“For us Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a real king. He is a source of inspiration. I am proud I came here to participate in the function,” Dimple, Class 6 student of Ramjas School, told IANS.

Rohit Kumar, a Class 8 student, said: “I have always heard my family members and teachers speak highly of the prime minister. After hearing him today, I truly realised why he is great.”

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The enthusiastic students, seated facing the Red Fort since 4 a.m., did not disappoint Manmohan Singh while he addressed the nation for the fifth time.

They clapped repeatedly whenever Manmohan Singh announced a new scheme or future development plans. The applause was deafening when he unveiled the government’s education plans and a new scholarship scheme.

“I am very excited to hear about new scholarships. His plans are for every section of the society,” said student Rishab Kuharan.

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A day before the Independence Day, authorities were worried that rains may spoil the official celebrations and lead to poor attendance from students and dignitaries.

The metrological department had anticipated heavy thundershowers, but the weather gods were kind. Ther was a mild drizzle, which failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the students.

The authorities had provided raincoats to the children but they did not use them. However some of the official guests opened their black umbrellas to dodge the drizzle.

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Unlike last year, the mass of school students did not complaint about sweltering heat, hunger and thirst. But some said they had to walk for an hour to reach the Red Fort.

“Our teachers took us all the way to the Red Fort by foot. We had walked for more than one hour due to security reasons,” said Yasmin, a Class 6 student of Pataudi School in Kali Mahal area of the walled city.

A minor stampede broke out at the venue soon after the prime minister left and students started leaving through two narrow gates. In a bid to leave first, some students jostled with each other. They fell on each other, but fortunately no one was injured.

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While most students were enthusiastic about the prime minister’s speech, some were caught chatting and napping - like many of their teachers.

“We had left our home around 1 a.m. and had been rehearsing for the past 15 days. We were a bit tired,” said a teacher who was embarrassed after being caught napping.

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