On the country’s 76th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said corruption and nepotism are two main challenges that are not confined to politics alone and asked people to have ‘nafrat’ (hatred) for these evils and focus on ‘Panch Pran’ (five resolves) to ensure a developed India in the next 25 years.
In his ninth consecutive speech from the ramparts of Red Fort, Modi said it was a historic day for India and the completion of 75 years of Independence was a time to step towards a new direction with a new resolve.
He said in this ‘Amrit Kaal’, every Indian is aspiring to see the fast progress of a new India with enthusiasm and impatience.
“Our nation has proved that we have an inherent strength from our diversity and the common thread of patriotism makes India unshakeable,” Modi said, as he termed India the “mother of democracy”.
He also gave a call for setting big resolutions and spelled out “Panch Pran” (five resolves) to fulfil freedom fighters’ dreams for the country at India’s independence centenary by 2047.
He said we should focus on the five pledges – a resolve of developed India; removing any trace of the colonial mindset; taking pride in our legacy; our strength of unity; and fulfilling the duties of citizens with honesty, which should be done by the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers as well.
With his government often accused by the Opposition of weakening states’ rights, he underlined his faith in cooperative federalism and the spirit of “team India”, saying that this is what he practised when he was Gujarat chief minister and a different party (Congress) was in power at the Centre.
“We may have different programmes and working styles but our dreams for the nation are not different,” he said in an apparent appeal to opposition parties to work together to develop the country.
While his 82-minute speech was peppered with several exhortations, including gender equality and removing the “distortion” in our conduct causing insult to women and the slogan “Jai Anusandhan” to promote research and innovation but there was no announcement of any new initiative or scheme as has been the case in previous speeches by him or his predecessors.
Ahead of his speech at the Red Fort, PM Modi, dressed in a traditional kurta and churidar paired with a blue jacket and a white ‘safa’ with tricolour stripes and a long trail as his headgear, unfurled the National Flag amid a 21-gun salute by the indigenously-developed howitzer gun, ATAGS.
He also paid tributes to freedom fighters and leaders from across the political spectrum for their contribution to the independence struggle and nation-building, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, V D Savarkar, Ram Manohar Lohia, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mangal Pandey among others.
Our experience shows that when the nation takes resolve and works together, then it fulfils its goals, he said citing his government’s host of measures, including the fight against COVID-19, electrifying villages and bringing piped water to every household.
He dedicated a big part of his speech to slam corruption, saying it was seen that some people do not have enough space to hide their illicit money while many in the country do not have enough space to live, an obvious pointer to the recovery of the huge amount of allegedly unaccounted cash and other assets during raids at some leaders of opposition parties.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, NCP and Trinamool Congress, have accused the government of “political vendetta” and misusing federal probe agencies like the Enforcement Directorate to target their leaders, a charge rejected by the ruling BJP.
“Corruption is eating the country like termites and we have to fight it with full might. It is our endeavour that those who have looted the country have to return it,” he said and also slammed the efforts to “glorify” them, an apparent reference to the opposition parties defending those accused of corruption.
“This mindset is not going to end unless there is a feeling of ‘nafrat’ (hatred) for corruption and the corrupt and people are forced to look down upon them socially,” he said.
Though the Prime Minister took no names, the BJP has often referred to the Congress’ nationwide protests against the ED’s questioning of its leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul in the National Herald case.
Also hitting out at dynasty and nepotism, he said their presence in politics nourished this evil in all other institutions of the country. This must be ended, he said.
“This nepotism harms India’s talents and capabilities. This is also a reason for corruption as people resort to it when they see no other option,” he said, seeking awareness against this to rid India’s institutions of these evils for their bright future.
He said he considered it his constitutional and democratic responsibility to fight these evils and sought people’s support.
“In politics too, the dynasty has done the most injustice to the country’s strength. Dynastic politics is aimed at a family’s welfare and has no interest in the country’s welfare,” he said, asking people to join him in purifying Indian politics and institutions to rid the country of this to take the country forward.
Otherwise, everybody feels frustrated because they believe they did not get their due because they had no relatives to promote them, he added. This mindset is not good for any country, he said.
The Prime Minister then linked India’s good shows in recent sporting events to transparent and merit-based selections. Earlier, people were often selected through nepotism and they might have reached playing grounds but had no interest in the country’s win, he claimed.
Pitching for women empowerment, he said gender equality is the key to a united India as he stressed the need to extend support to ‘Nari Shakti’.
Asserting that giving respect to women is an important pillar for India’s growth, he said it is important that in speech and conduct “we do nothing that lowers the dignity of women”.
When our women’s strength joins the forces for developing India in a big way, then the country can fulfil its goals in much less time, he said.
“The more opportunities we give to women, the more we will reap the benefits from their contribution,” he said.
He said the citizens are proud of the strength of the women of India like Rani Laxmibai, Jhalkari Bai, Rani Chennamma, and Begum Hazrat Mahal. Indian women symbolise sacrifice and struggle, Modi said.
He noted that a made-in-India gun was used for the first time in 75 years for the ceremonial 21-shot salute at the historic Red Fort on the Independence Day on Monday, he lauded the feat and congratulated the armed forces.
“When 130 crore people take one step ahead, the nation moves 130 crore steps,” he said and highlighted his government’s resolve for “Aatmanirbhar India” (self-reliant India).
Modi also spoke of ‘trishakti’ of aspirations, renaissance and world’s expectations powering India looking at it with new expectations.
He said the country needs to have its metrics to judge its efforts and should not depend on certificates from the world. It should be the way it is and should stand on its feet with its strength, he added.
“Today the world is facing environment-related problems and we have the solution to global warming. For this, we have the heritage passed on to us by our ancestors. Today the world is talking about holistic healthcare. They look at India’s Yoga and Ayurveda when they refer to holistic healthcare. This is the heritage that we are offering to the world,” he said.
He noted that India was highly dependent on fuel from the gulf countries and planned to blend 10 per cent ethanol with petrol.
“It appeared to be a difficult task to accomplish. However, we achieved the blending of ethanol with petrol well ahead of time,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that it is time for India’s techade and digital technology is going to bring in reforms in every area.
“India’s techade is here! With 5G, semiconductor manufacturing & Optical Fibre Cable (OFCs) in villages, we are bringing a revolution through Digital India to the grassroots level,” Modi said.
He also said the success of Digital India, startups have been driven by youth from the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.