Amid multi-layered security arrangements and social distancing measures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation after unfurling the Indian flag on the 74th Independence Day celebrations at the iconic Red Fort.
In PM Modi's seventh August 15 speech, he addressed the latest affairs in the country - from the India-China row; his call for 'Atma Nirbhar' Bharat, to the Covid-19 vaccine and much more.
The PM had addressed the issue of cleanliness in his first I-day speech in 2014; the issue of village electrification in 2015; ease of doing business in 2016; shared his dream of a ‘New India’ in 2017 and focused on tackling poverty in 2018. In his second term, his 2019 speech had stressed on the need for population control. However, this year, the PM's focus lay most on asserting India’s self-confidence and self-reliance, or 'Atmanirbharta'. Here's everything Modi spoke about on the country's freedom day:
• He began his his hour-and-a-half long speech by paying respects to India’s ‘Corona warriors’ - health workers, sanitation workers, and those working in essential services amid the pandemic.
• As India reels under the effect of Covid-19, Modi assured that three vaccines were under various stages of trials in the country, and that all preparations had been made to mass produce the vaccine, and provide them to every Indian in the shortest time possible. He said a green flag by scientists was being awaited for now.
The question before the entire world today is, ‘when will the Coronavirus vaccines be ready?’ Our scientists, given their skills, have been, like monks, single-mindedly working night and day in their labs. Because of this not just one or two, but three vaccines are now in various stages of development. As soon as we get the green flag, the roadmap has been prepared to start production on a very large scale. We will ensure that every Indian gets the vaccine in the shortest possible time.
• PM Modi said efforts were being made to create a unique health ID card for every Indian, one which would integrate all medical history of the person along with their past appointments. It would give them a chance to book a new appointment and make payments through this unique identification, which would enable doctors to better and more quickly diagnose the patient, he added.
• The Prime Minister also talked about the India-China row after the Galwan Valley clash. He said attempts were made to challenge our territorial integrity, from the LAC to the LoC.
With whatever happened, our jawans replied in the language of the enemy. What the country and our jawans can do was seen in Ladakh. I salute all those who laid down their lives to protect our borders.
• He said the nation had in the past also stood up to the ideology of 'Vistaarvaad' or expansionism, whose proponents ruled over India believing that a country so diverse could never unite to fight its oppressors. “But India never gave up on its Independence. India stood against this expansionism and successfully fought for its freedom,” he added.
Those who were busy finding new places to put their flags and wanted to expand their empire, underestimated us. The world saw two 'world wars' and so many nations faced immense destruction, but we rose through it all and our freedom struggle was seen and acknowledged globally.
• The way India’s farmers elevated India from a country that imported food grains to a country that was capable of feeding hungry people across the world, was an example of 'Atmanirbharta' or self-reliance, he said. The other example was India’s space program, which like many other of its achievements in sectors like healthcare, was a force for betterment for India’s partners in the subcontinent and beyond, the PM said.
• He said the country would soon come up with a cyber space security strategy, as the rapid advances made, also invited threats. The prime minister’s comments come against the backdrop of increasing cyber threats, psychological warfare and misinformation campaigns against the country, which are reportedly abetted from nations like Pakistan and China.
• He said that the country needs to discourage imports, which take a toll on the creativity and capability of local innovators, and encourage India to move from “Make in India to Make for the World”.
• Modi said India’s health sector in fighting the menace of coronavirus, had reached a position where it was exporting N-95 masks, PPE kits and ventilators; a huge step as before there was negligible production of the same.
This is an example of how Atmanirbhar India can be a force for good for the entire world. In Independent India we should all become ‘vocal for local’.
• It was because of India’s growing self-reliance, the Prime Minister added, that record FDIs had flown into India breaking all records over the past one year, increasing by 18% last year. “For this reason large multinationals are investing in India,” he said.
• It was this self-reliance that was keeping India in motion despite the country being beset by so many natural disasters from hurricanes to earthquakes to locust attacks, PM Modi said. "Despite everything, India did not lose its Atma-vishwas (self-confidence).” To keep this momentum on, Modi said a massive push was being planned in infrastructure, through which many allied industries would benefit.
For India’s growth at a faster pace, we have focused on comprehensive, multi-modal infrastructure development. We are no longer segregating rail, from roads, ports from airports and we have clubbed them to have a holistic approach to infrastructure development.
• Modi also recalled some other important decisions taken in the country over the past one month. The National Education Policy was among them. “After 3 decades we have been able to give to the nation a National Education Policy. This will help our students not just in connecting them to their roots but in also making them global citizens,” he said.
• The Prime Minister also recalled the abrogation of article 370, through which, he said that “Dalits and women" had gotten equal rights in Jammu and Kashmir. Modi also said the process of delimitation was going on in the UT at the moment, and soon after its completion, the nation was committed to having elections there so that J&K could have its own MLAs and ministers.
• He proposed that Ladakh, the other Union Territory carved from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, could create its own identity as India’s first “carbon neutral” UT. He also expressed happiness with the way that work on building Ram Temple in Ayodhya began, and the manner in which the Supreme Court’s verdict was received with humility and grace by the country.