By Nithin Sridhar
On the occasion of India’s 69th Independence anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the entire nation from the Red fort in the morning. Inspite of serious security issues, Modi yet again addressed the nation without using the protective bulletproof glass shield.
As with his previous addresses to the nation, his Independence Day speech was highly energetic, passionate and directly appealing to the hearts of people. He continuously addressed the entire nation as “125 crores membered Team-India” and spoke at length about various issues that are affecting India and how his government is trying to tackle them.
Some of the key takeaways from his I-day address are:
- Cleanliness: Speaking about his pet theme, PM Modi said that the whole nation must work towards dedicating a “Swacch Bharat” to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. He further said, how the cleanliness mission has reached people from all walks of life. Highlighting the government’s achievement in successfully building toilets in schools, especially for girls, he said that around 4.25 lakh toilets had been built in 2.62 lakh schools across the nation in past one year.
Though, his cleanliness initiative can be criticized as not being enough on multiple counts, the fact that the government has been able to set quantifiable and time-sensitive targets like building toilets and then attaining those targets, has gone a long way in waking up people to issues of health and hygiene and has helped the masses, especially girl students who faced difficulty in going to schools, due to lack of toilets. Hence, the Modi government deserves appreciation on this count.
- Black Money: Defending his government’s move to introduce a tough law on black money, he said that the law has ensured that people do not take black money outside of the country. He further spoke about how around Rs 6500 crores have been disclosed under the compliance window of black money and foreign assets law. He further mentioned how his government formed SIT under Supreme Court’s guidance immediately after coming to power. He also revealed about how the G-20 countries have agreed to assist India in tracking the issue of black money.
But, these measures are not enough to tackle the issue of black money. The government has made many slip-ups in the past in handling this issue and should work to rectify those mistakes. Further, there is a genuine concern that the draconian black money law may affect honest tax payers as well. These concerns must be addressed.
- Corruption: Speaking about corruption, he compared it with termites that are present everywhere but can be treated with repeated attempts. He further said that his government is committed to rooting out corruption. He highlighted the fact that there has not been a single case of corruption in his government. He added that after he took over the reins, in last one year, CBI has filed around 1800 corruption cases. Modi further stated that by re-auction of the coal blocks, the government has made around 3 lakh crore rupees.
- Connecting the poor with the financial activity: In yet another move to connect the poor to the financial system and institutions and hence help them avail various benefits, PM Modi spoke about supporting entrepreneur initiatives across India. He said that the youth must be given opportunities to become entrepreneurs and systems must be built to enable “start-ups”. He said that India should become number one, in start-ups and urged all the bank branches across India to contribute to enabling setting up of start-ups by people. He asked every bank branches to provide finances to at least one dalit, one tribal and one woman to start a “start-up”. Speaking about the status of his Jan Dhan Yojana, he said that, around 17 crore people have opened bank accounts and around Rs 2000 crore have been deposited in them till now.
The government must be congratulated for taking steps for including the poor into the financial framework of the nation. The start-up initiative, if properly implemented, will go a long way in reducing unemployment levels. It will further help the poor to climb up the ladder of economy.
- Farmer’s issue: PM Modi said that the government has set aside, around Rs 50,000 crores for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. It is basically a 5-year plan which is aimed at increasing the productivity of agriculture. The money will be utilized in various irrigation and watershed projects. PM Modi further announced his decision to increase the scope of Ministry of Agriculture by renaming it as “Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare” and hence including the welfare of farmers under the scope of the ministry. In a country where farmer’s suicide has become a daily affair, these measures will have long-term impact on the welfare of farmers and may go a long away in addressing their issues and assisting them in their work.
- Rural Electrification: In another move that would benefit large populations of India, PM Modi announced that his government plans to provide electricity to all the 18,500 villages that are without power. He said that every one of those 18,500 villages will get electricity poles, wires and connection within 1000 days. These efforts, if implemented sincerely, will be a major boost to the development of rural areas and may, in the long run, reduce migration to urban centers as well.
- One Rank, One Pension (OROP): One issue, where PM Modi has certainly disappointed people is the issue of OROP. Though PM Modi assured the people, especially the ex-servicemen that he and his government have accepted OROP in principle, and only the details are to be finalized, people had expected a more concrete announcement from the Prime Minister. Many are feeling that PM has let down his commitment to the ex-servicemen by dragging the issue for months now. Hopefully, Modi will resolve this long-standing issue sooner, rather than later.
Therefore, PM Narendra Modi’s speech for the Independence Day has given hope to many and disappointed a few. He used the occasion to give a report of his government’s performance and the status of various projects, as well as to chart out the path the government will be traveling in the coming year and to give assurance to people who have very high expectation from him.
Though he appears to have disappointed certain sections of the population including ex-servicemen and media-observers, his message of hope has certainly reached the hearts of common men and women who had voted for him last year.