On the occasion of the 71st Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had used his speeches from the ramparts of Red Fort to highlight his government’s focus for the year, spoke on his vision of New India – a corruption-free, violence-free India where people live in equality without caste and communal differences.
However, Modi, who had called for a moratorium on caste and communal violence for 10 years in his first Independence Day address in 2014, had to address a series of incidents of violence across the country in the name of cow vigilantism. Modi said: “Violence in the name of ‘Astha’ is not something to be happy about, it will not be accepted in India. India is about Shanti, Ekta and Sadbhavana. Casteism and communalism will not help us.” Also Read: Seven podcasts that highlight the pain of India’s partition
Amidst criticism against his government for its handling of Kashmir issue, Modi said his government is committed to the “lost glory” of Kashmir. “Na gaali, na goli, parivartan hoga gale laga ke (Neither bullets nor brickbats will solve the Kashmir issue, only love will),” the PM said. He added that while “there is no question of being soft on terrorism”, any “violence in the name of faith cannot be condoned”. Also Read: The too late nation
“I want to tell the youth of Kashmir and I’ve said this time and time again, come into the mainstream, you have a right to speak in a democracy,” the PM said.
He also spoke about the recent death of 60 children in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and the floods in various states, saying that the “people of India stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected due to natural disasters and tragedy”. Also Read: How world newspapers reported India’s independence in 1947
Modi emphasised on his ideas and visions about the New India, about which he first talked about at his party headquarters following the BJP’s stunning election victory in state polls conducted in February-March.
His address, which at around 56 minutes was the shortest ever, kept mentioning about demonetisation as an effective measure against the fight against corruption and blackmoney as he had promised in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Taking a swipe on those who cast their apprehension over its impact or to allay the fears that it hit the economy adversely, he said: “They said Modi gaya after demonetisation but it broke the back of corruption in country.” Also Read: PM Narendra Modi greets the nation on 71st Independence Day
It also indicated that a major highlight of the ruling BJP’s campaign would be the demonetisation and measures against graft and good governance.
According to the Prime Minister, during the last one year, the government’s anti-corruption steps led to the closure of 1.75 lakh shell companies, which were run by black money operators. “Eighteen lakh people have been identified where their assets are more than their known source of income. Of this 4.50 lakh people have accepted their fault. Interestingly, 1 lakh had never heard about income tax.”
He added: “With banks getting more money, loans are being made available at a lower rate of interest. This is helping the economy.”
Another achievement, apart from the government’s flagship schemes for the farmers, he spoke about was the implementation of GST. “After GST (goods and services tax), greater transparency will come. In the case of transportation, there has been a 30 per cent reduction in time taken for goods movement as the check posts have been removed,” he said.
As usual, the PM had a message for the young India too. Pointing out that those who were born in the 21st century would turn 18 in 2018, he asked them it’s “time to shirk ‘chalta hai’ attitude. “Chalta hein ka zamana chala gaya hein… Change can happen… Badla hai, badal raha hai, badal sakta hai… this should be our attitude,” Modi said.
In an apparent message to his colleagues in the government and the party, he said speed in deliverance would be very important. “The common man is satisfied only when something appears on the ground. We can’t make things work on ground at a slow pace. We will have to accelerate our speed, move at faster pace,” he said.