Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed the nation from the Red Fort on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day. The Prime Minister, before arriving at the Red Fort, paid a floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan were amongst the many of VVIPs present at the venue.
PM Modi was received by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar and Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag at the Red Fort. He unfurled the national flag before giving his third Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort.
Here are the key issues on which the prime minister focused:
QUALITY OF GOVERNANCE
Modi his government had take decisions to help people make online booking to visit hospitals. Citing the example of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, he said similar changes had been brought about in 40 major hospitals across the country. Similarly, now, in just one minute, it had become possible to generate as many as 15,000 railway tickets, he said. “When I talk about suraj (good governance) … the meaning is to bring changes in the life of the common man,” he said.
“The middle class is more bothered about tax than the police. This situation needs to change… I will change it,” Modi said in his speech from Red Fort on India’s 70th Independence Day. “There was a time a honest citizen would pay tax, but once the money went into the government’s coffers, refunds would take months,” the prime minister said referring to refunds of tax deducted at source. “Now we give refunds online and it is given in weeks,” he said.
CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said saving energy was a focus of his government and pledged to distribute 77 crore electricity efficient LED lights in the country. “We want to distribute 77 crore more LED bulbs. I urge you all to use LED bulbs, save energy and take part in helping our nation,” Modi said in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. He said the government had brought down the cost of a Rs 350 LED bulb to Rs 50. “I do not want to ask where all that money used to go (during the previous governments). I am happy to inform you that we have distributed 13 crore such bulbs.”
RURAL ROAD CONNECTIVITY
The Prime Minister said the government has given a new momentum to the construction of roads in rural areas now built at the pace of 100 km per day. Modi said the government’s flagship rural connectivity programme was introduced by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but it it was implemented later at a slow speed. Modi said his government had brought a new momentum to the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana to help accomplish the dream of villagers who want good roads. “Earlier village roads were constructed at the rate of 70-75 km per day. Now we construct 100 km in a day.”
ISSUANCE OF PASSPORT
The government issued 1.45 crore passports in 2015-16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. People were being provided passports in just one or two weeks now though around two crore applications are received annually compared to 40-50 lakh application in earlier years, he said in his Independence Day speech. People do not need any recommendation now to secure passports, he said.
JAN DHAN YOJANA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the impossible was made possible by adding 21 crore people in the Jan Dhan Yojana. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana helps to open bank accounts. In his speech on the 70th Independence Day, the Prime Minister said adding people to the Jan Dhan Yojana was an impossible task as many were out of the mainstream. Modi said the government was trying to link all government schemes with Aadhaar to avoid leakage.
PUBLIC SECTOR PROFITABILITY
Modi made a veiled attack on the previous governments and said state-owned enterprises were set up to fail or to sell them out. “Now things have changed,” Modi said in his Independence Day speech from the historic Red Fort. He said state-owned Air India, telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Shipping Corporation Of India Ltd now have operating profits. “Air India that used to be criticized earlier has an operating profit. While every telecom company in the world flourished, BSNL used to run in losses. Today, BSNL too has an operating profit,” Modi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated India’s farmers for enabling the country maintain its food reserves despite two years of drought, adding he aimed to double the income of farmers by 2020. “It is my dream to double the income of farmers by 2022,” Modi said in his address to the nation from the Red Fort here on the 70th Independence Day. He also said the government is encouraging the cultivation of pulses and their sowing has increased 1.5 times this year.
BETI BACHAO, BETI PADHAO
The Prime Minister sought support from all sections of society for the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative which focuses on the girl child. “I still need social support for ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’,” the Prime Minsiter said in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. He said one healthy, educated and economically independent woman can pull a family out of poverty. He also spoke of the bill for extending maternity leave to 26 weeks that the Rajya Sabha passed last week.
BALOCHISTAN, PAKISTAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR
“I want to speak a bit about the people in Balochistan, Gilgit, Baltistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” the Prime Minister said from the Red Fort. “The world is watching. People of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have thanked me a lot in the past few days,” Modi said. “I am grateful to them.” He said the way people from these Pakistani regions “wished me well, gives me great joy”. Modi said last week that it was time for Islamabad to explain to the world “why it has been committing atrocities on people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan”. On Monday, Modi also hit out at Pakistan for supporting terrorism. This, he said, was in contrast to the way Indians reacted with sorrow when terrorists slaughtered school children in Peshawar. “That is the nature of India. But on the other hand, look at those who glorify terrorists. What kind of people glorify terrorists? What kind of people celebrate when people are killed?”