Speaking from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on the Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi re-emphasised his slogan of good governance, saying accountability and responsibility are key to attain this.
Addressing the nation, he said his government was committed to attain swaraj. “March from self-governance to good-governance is a resolve of entire nation, it will need sacrifices. There was a time when the government was shrouded by allegations, but now the government is surrounded by expectations,” he said.
Modi said swarajya is about empowering citizens and improving their quality of life and that his government was committed to bring that change to every citizen of the country. Talking about delivery of services during his tenure, Modi said, “Today, in one minute, it’s possible to get 15,000 train tickets.”
Drawing a comparison with previous governments, Modi said in the last two years his government has provided gas connections to over 4 crore people in just 60 weeks while only 14 crore had gas connection in past 60 years. He also said that construction of rural roads have increased to 100 km a day from 70-75 km a day earlier. Citing an example, Modi said a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hatras district didn’t have power despite being just three hours away from the National Capital. Modi said his government provided electricity to this village. “Electricity has reached 10,000 villages out of 18,000 unelectricified villages,” he said. The PM also extolled the use of LED bulbs. “LED bulbs are being sold at Rs 50 each against Rs 350 previously,” he said. The PM announced that 13 crore bulbs were distributed and his government has set a target of touching 77 crore which can save 20,000 MW of electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore.
Facing criticism for inflation since he came to power, PM Modi said his government has brought inflation rate below 6 per cent and that he will continue to work to ensure food plate of poor is not affected by inflation. The prices of pulses have increased substantially in the last two years with urad hitting a high of Rs 200 per kg. The PM, however, assured that sowing of pulses has increased 1.5 times this year and it will help solve problem of demand shortfall.
The prime minister said that 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers have been cleared and that 95 per cent of sugarcane sold this season has been paid for to farmers.
To tackle higher rate of agricultural cost, the PM said 90 shut irrigation schemes will be revived and that 77,000 solar pumps have been distributed to bring down input cost of farmers. He said his aim was to help double farmers’ income by 2022. “I have tried to adopt the strategy of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ and tried to avoid populism,” he said.
Perhaps with Punjab elections in his mind, the Prime Minister talked about the sacrifices of Sikh Gurus. “How can we forget the bravery and sacrifice of the Sikh Gurus,” he said.
Thanking all the political parties for clearing the Goods and Services Tax in parliament, Modi said that GST will give strength to the economy. The bill was passed in both the Houses of Parliament in a historic coming together of all parties.
Talking about social tension, Modi said unity is in diversity and this is our strength. “Social justice is the basis to attain this goal,” he said. “Only financial growth is not important, social unity is also important. 125 crore people of India are part of one family,” Modi said.
Accepting that there are problems, he said, “We have to rise above and fight such anti-social elements. Only then we’ll be able to progress in real sense. Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar ji have always stressed on the need for social unity.” he said tough and “sensitive” approach is required to tackle the age-old social evils whether it is casteism or untouchability.
Taking credit for the One-Rank-One-Pay move, Modi said his government fulfilled this dream. “More than 35,000 jawans have lost their lives fighting at border so that we can stay peacefully here, how can we forget them?” Modi said.
Talking about terrorism, Modi said the Peshawar school in Pakistan which had claimed the lives of over 100 children, had brought tears in everyone’s eyes in the Indian Parliament. “This is the example of our humanitarian approach, but there are some countries who glorify terrorists,” he said. Modi also urged the youth who have taken up gun to return to their parents and shun violence.