The call for Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) as we fight the Covid-19 pandemic has captured people’s imagination and should be the mantra for everyone, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he delivered his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech. He also announced the launch of National Digital Health Mission under which every Indian will get a unique health ID.
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort to mark the 74th Independence Day, PM Modi, in his nearly 90-minute speech, put forward the mantra of ‘Make for World’ alongside his pet initiative of ‘Make in India’ as he exhorted all Indians to be ‘vocal for local’.
“The mindset of free India should be ‘vocal for local’. We should appreciate our local products, if we don’t do this then our products will not get the opportunity to do better and will not get encouraged,” PM Modi said.
“I agree that there are lakhs of challenges for Atmanirbhar Bharat and they increase if there is global competitiveness. However, if there are lakhs of challenges, then the country also has power which gives crores of solutions,” PM Modi said.
Citing an example, Modi said before the Covid-19 pandemic, the country was not making N-95 masks, PPE and ventilators, but now it was in a position to export such items.
Ever since he assumed office in 2014, PM Modi’s Independence Day speeches have outlined a roadmap for the year ahead while listing the achievements of the government from the year gone by. This year was no different. Besides dwelling upon his pet theme of Atmanirbhar Bharat, PM Modi reinforced his government’s commitment to providing clean drinking water to every household while saying free gas cylinders were given to seven crore poor families and 80 crore people provided free food grains. He also said the optical fibre network would be provided to 6 lakh villages in 1,000 days.
For the infrastructure sector, PM Modi said about 7,000 projects of different sectors had been identified. “National infrastructure pipeline project with the investment of 1.10 lakh crore should be given importance. Our approach will be integrated, multi-model infrastructural projects,” he said.
Announcing the National Digital Health Mission, PM Modi said it was the need of the hour and the ‘One Nation One Health Card’ scheme would help people get better healthcare facilities in the country. “National Digital Health Mission will bring a new revolution in India’s health sector. Under the mission, every Indian will get a unique health ID,” he said.
A person’s medical records, such as tests, diagnosis, and treatments will be digitised and saved as a database that can be accessed from anywhere in the country. With all eyes on an antidote to Covid-19, PM Modi said three probable vaccine candidates were at different stages of testing and the entire roadmap of its production and delivery were ready.
“Today three vaccines are in testing stages in India. As soon as the scientists give a green signal, the country will begin their large scale production. As soon as tests are complete, the entire roadmap of its production and delivery to the public in the shortest time is ready,” PM Modi said.
Days after the first anniversary of the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and conversion of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories, PM Modi said the government was committed to hold assembly elections in J&K once delimitation exercise was complete.
“This one year is a year of the new journey of development for Jammu and Kashmir. This one year is the year of the rights received by the women and the Dalits in Jammu and Kashmir. This one year is also the year of a life of dignity for the refugees in Jammu and Kashmir,” PM Modi said.
Without naming China, with whom India has been locked in a border standoff since May in eastern Ladakh, PM Modi said, “Those who challenge the country’s sovereignty, be it LOC or LAC, have been given a befitting reply in their own language.”
However, in the same breath, PM Modi said neighbours were not only those with whom “we share our geographical boundaries” but also “those with whom our hearts meet”. “Today neighbour is not just the one with whom we share border but also those with whom our heart stays connected, where there is harmony in relations. I’m happy that in past some time India has further strengthened its relations with all countries in ‘extended neighbourhood’,” he said.
Asserting that the government was determined to provide equal opportunities of self-employment and employment to women, PM Modi said a committee had been set up to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of women.
“We have set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age for marriage of our daughters. We will take appropriate decision after the committee submits its report,” the PM said.
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