‘Every parent should impose as many restrictions on sons as have been imposed on our daughters’

Excerpts from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech at Red Fort.

Updated: August 16, 2014 12:05:49 am
We are living in the 21st century. Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in the open? We are living in the 21st century. Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in the open?

I am present amidst you not as prime minister, but as prime servant.

The first parliamentary session of the new government concluded yesterday. Today, I can proudly say that the session of Parliament reflects our thinking and our intentions. We are not for moving forward on the basis of majority. We want to move ahead on the basis of strong consensus. Having taken all parties and the opposition along while working shoulder to shoulder, we achieved unprecedented success, and the credit for this does not go to the prime minister alone, or the people in government. The credit goes to the opposition also.

When I came to Delhi, it seemed as if dozens of separate governments are running at the same time within a main government. It appeared that everyone had his own fiefdom. One department was taking on another, to the extent that two departments of the same government were fighting each other in the Supreme Court. This disunity, this conflict among people of the same country! How can we take the country forward? That is why I have started to try to raze those walls; I have started making efforts at making the government not an assembled entity but an organic one… In order to fulfil the aspirations of the masses, we have to sharpen the tool called the government machinery, we have to make it keener, more dynamic, and it is in this direction that we are working.

When we hear about incidents of rape, we hang our heads in shame. People come out with different arguments, some indulge in psychoanalysis. But today, from this platform, I want to say to every parent: if you have a daughter of 10 or 12 years of age, you are always on alert. Every now and then you ask, where are you going, when will you be back, inform immediately after you reach. Parents ask their daughters hundreds of questions, but do they dare ask their sons as to where he is going, why is he going out, who his friends are? After all, a rapist is also somebody’s son. He also has parents. Every parent should impose as many restrictions on sons as have been imposed on our daughters — try to do this with your sons, try to ask such questions of them. The law will take its own course, strict action will be taken, but as members of society, as parents, we also have some responsibility. Every parent must take responsibility.

We have had communal tensions for ages. This led to the division of the country. Even after Independence, we have had to face the poison of casteism and communalism. How long will these evils continue? Whom does it benefit? Friends, look around and you will find that nobody has benefited from it. I appeal to all that whether it is the poison of casteism, communalism, regionalism, discrimination on social and economic basis — all these are obstacles on our way forward. Let’s put a moratorium on all such activities for 10 years, we shall march ahead to a society that will be free from such tensions.

Have we ever thought about what the sex ratio in the country is like? Nine hundred and forty girls are born per thousand boys. Who is causing this imbalance in society? Certainly not god. I request doctors not to kill the girl growing in the womb of a mother just to line their own pockets. I advise mothers and sisters not to sacrifice daughters in the hope of a son. Sometimes parents want a son in the hope he will support them in their old age. I am a person who has worked in public life. I have come across families with five sons, each having bungalows, access to a fleet of cars but whose parents are forced to live in old-age homes. I have also seen families with only daughters as progeny. She sacrifices her dreams, doesn’t get married and spends her life taking care of her old parents.

I have come here with a pledge to launch a scheme… It will be called Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. I wish to connect the poorest citizens with the facility of bank accounts. There are millions of families who have mobile phones but no bank accounts. This yojana will open the window and an account holder under the scheme will be given a debit card. Insurance of Rs 1 lakh will be guaranteed with that debit card for each poor family.

If we have to develop a balance between imports and exports, we will have to strengthen the manufacturing sector. I want to appeal to people the world over from the ramparts of the Red Fort, “Come, make in India,” “Come, manufacture in India.” Sell in any country of the world but manufacture here. We have the skill, talent, discipline and determination to do something. Come, I am inviting you.

If each one of our millions of youngsters resolves to manufacture at least one item, India can become a net exporter of goods. I therefore urge the youth, in particular our small entrepreneurs, to never compromise, at least on two counts. First, zero defect. Second, zero effect. We should manufacture goods in such a way that they carry zero defect, so that our exported goods are never returned to us. We should manufacture goods with zero effect so that they do not have a negative impact on the environment.

We are living in the 21st century. Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in the open? Is the dignity of women not our collective responsibility? Poor womenfolk of the village wait for night; until darkness descends, they can’t go out to defecate. What bodily torture they must be feeling; how many diseases that act might engender. Can’t we make arrangements for toilets for the dignity of our mothers and sisters?

I come from a poor family, I have seen poverty. The poor need respect and it begins with cleanliness. I am therefore launching a “Clean India” campaign from October 2 this year and carrying it forward in four years. I want to make a beginning today, and that is — all schools in the country should have separate toilets for girls. Only then will our daughters not be compelled to leave schools midway. Our parliamentarians can utilise MPLADS funds to construct toilets in schools for a year. The government should utilise its budget on providing toilets. I call upon the corporate sector also to give priority to the provision of toilets in schools with its expenditure under corporate social responsibility.

Today I am going to announce a scheme on behalf of members of Parliament, the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. I urge members of Parliament to select any village with a population of 3,000-5,000 in your constituency… Each of our MPs should make one village in his or her constituency a “model village” by 2016. If we provide one model village in each district of India, then surrounding villages shall be automatically inspired to follow that model.

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App