In his last Red Fort speech before the 2024 polls, the PM told his ‘parivarjan’ to weed out ‘parivaar-waad’, appeasement and corruption.
With the Red Fort’s ramparts missing the usual heavy floral decorations this time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his Independence Day speech by referring to citizens as his “parivarjan” (family members), instead of his usual “mere pyaare deshwaasiyon” (my beloved countrymen).
Considering the record of his past speeches, in which he has announced major campaigns such as the Ayushman Bharat and Swachh Bharat, all eyes were on the PM to push crucial political points this year. It was, after all, not just his tenth consecutive Independence Day address, but also his last before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The theme this year seemed to be public participation in governance, with the PM invoking the potential of a young population, a “lost” heritage, presenting a report card, and laying out a roadmap for the future in which India will be the third largest economy in the next five years. He said there are certain aspects that need to be seriously considered, and that he was at the Red Fort to seek the blessing and help of his parivarjan.
If we want to achieve our dreams, the PM said, India needs freedom from three evils – corruption, nepotism, and appeasement. It appeared to be an attack on the opposition, just days after his speech in the Lok Sabha, with PM Modi hitting out at “some parties” which follow “dynastic politics”.
The Red Fort, meanwhile, featured 1,800 “special guests” as part of the “Jan Bhagidari” push to encourage public participation in governance. These included sarpanches of “vibrant villages”, representatives of the farmer producer organisations scheme, beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, construction workers from the Central Vista project, khadi workers, those involved in construction of border roads, those who worked on Amrit Sarovar and Har Ghar Jal Yojana, as well as primary school teachers, nurses, and fishermen.
Reportedly conspicuous by absence was Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who sent out a recorded message to reiterate the contributions of India's erstwhile Prime Ministers.
आप सभी को स्वतंत्रता दिवस की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ व बधाई।— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) August 15, 2023
लोकतंत्र और संविधान हमारी देश की आत्मा है।
हम यह प्रण लेते हैं कि हम देश की एकता और अखंडता के लिये, प्रेम और भाईचारे के लिए, सौहार्द और सद्भाव के लिए लोकतंत्र और संविधान की स्वतंत्रता क़ायम रखेंगे।
जय हिन्द 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/d5EurpcRNM
Let’s take a look at key takeaways from the PM’s speech.
The prime minister said that the government will launch the Vishwakarma scheme with allocation of Rs 13,000 to Rs 15,000 crore in the next month “for those with traditional skills”. PM Modi said that this scheme, which will be launched on Vishwakarma Jayanti, is especially for skilled workers such as barbers, tanners, goldsmiths, washermen etc.
“We have to address regional aspirations; India will not be developed if even one part is lagging behind,” he said.
He said the government is trying to increase the number of Jan Aushadhi Kendra or subsidised medical shops from 10,000 to 25,000.
The prime minister listed out the construction of a new Parliament building as a reflection of new India. “For 25 years it was being discussed in the country that a new Parliament building will be built. Ye Modi hai, samay ke pehle sansad banakar ke rakh diya (This is Modi, he built the Parliament before time). This is a government that works, that meets set goals. This is new India. This is an India that is full of self-confidence,” he said.
The prime minister began his speech with greetings to Indian citizens, and a tribute to the Satyagraha movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and each freedom fighter that made Independence possible.
He then referred to the situation in the Northeast, “especially in Manipur”.
“In the last few weeks, Manipur witnessed a wave of violence. Several people lost their lives, and our mothers and sisters were dishonoured. But there are reports of peace gradually returning to the region. India stands with Manipur,” the PM said, adding that the centre and state governments are working together to maintain peace. “The people of Manipur should build on the peace that has been restored over the past few days. The path for a solution will be found through peace in Manipur.”
PM Modi tomtommed several achievements of his government, in the fields of security, geopolitics, science, education, as well as economy.
“Ten years ago, Rs 30 lakh crore used to go out to state governments from the centre. In the last nine years, this has gone up to Rs 100 lakh crore. Earlier, Rs 70,000 crore was allocated for local development, now this figure stands at Rs 3 lakh crore. The government used to give Rs 90,000 crore for housing for the poor, now this stands at over Rs 4 lakh crore…Indian government is giving a subsidy of Rs 10 lakh crore so that urea bags are cheaper for Indian farmers,” he said.
The prime minister claimed that in five years, over 13.5 crore poor people became part of the neo-middle and middle classes. “We have taken many measures to control inflation in the country and our effort in this direction will continue.”
Modi also said that India has made all efforts to control inflation.
“The world has still not recovered from Corona. The (Russia-Ukraine) war gave rise to another crisis. Today, the world is facing the crisis of inflation. Inflation has the entire global economy in its clutches...It is unfortunate that when we import goods of our necessity, we also import inflation. But India made all efforts to control inflation...We can’t be content just because our situation is better than the rest of the world. I have to take more steps to see that the burden of inflation goes further down on the citizens of my country. We will take those steps and my efforts will continue.”
The prime minister said India was at the tenth spot among global economies in 2014. “Today, with the efforts of 140 crore Indians, we have reached the fifth position. This did not happen just like that. The demon of corruption that had the country in its clutches – we stopped leakages and created a strong economy.”
Geopolitics and shackles of a ‘1,000 years’
“After Covid, a new global order, a new geopolitical equation is forming very steadily…you will be proud to know that your capability is visible in shaping this new global order…when the world’s supply chain was disrupted, we had said that if the world has to advance, development needs to be human-centric…India is now becoming the voice for Global South,” the prime minister said.
PM Modi pointed out that a new trust has been built in India’s ability.
“No ifs and buts, confidence has been built. We can’t miss this opportunity. India’s rise and development is resulting in renewed global confidence in the country. The world is technology-driven, and with its talent in technology, India will have a new role and impact on the global stage.”
In his speech, the prime minister said that small incidents can often have a big impact.
He said that about 1,000 years ago, a small kingdom’s defeat had paved the way for slavery, but there was no part of India that did not sacrifice for freedom. “Ma Bharati was struggling to break free of the shackles.”
Invoking the potential of yuva shakti, and stressing on the need to pride ourselves on that “lost heritage” and prosperity, the prime minister said that we must consider that our every step will impact the next 1,000 years.
“Our decisions, and sacrifices in this period will impact the next 1,000 years…India is marching ahead with new confidence and resolve…Demography, democracy, and diversity have the potential to realise all dreams of the country.”
He said that global experts are saying that “India will not stop now, all rating agencies are praising the country. In shaping a changing world, Indians’ capabilities are evident.”
Science and internal security
PM Modi said that thousands of Atal tinkering labs are now inspiring youngsters to become scientists.
“During a foreign visit, I was asked if girls in India take part in science and engineering. I told them that in India, more girls than boys are in STEM (science technology, engineering, math). My aim is to make two crore lakhpati didis,” he said.
The prime minister said that the country had administered 200 crore vaccinations during the Covid pandemic. “Our anganwadi and health workers made it possible. We rolled out 5G the fastest and now we are preparing for 6G too. We have achieved our renewable energy targets. This government will complete all its targets before the deadline.”
“From space to deep sea missions, Vande Bharat trains, electric buses, metro trains, villages getting internet, and semiconductor manufacturing – we are working in every sector. India is moving towards its aims. This government inaugurates the projects for which it lays the foundation. We aim big and far.”
PM Modi said that his government had formed new ministries such as Jal Shakti, Ayush, and Fisheries to tap the potential of more segments. He also said that “the era of serial blasts is over”. “Today, the country is seeing a drop in terror attacks. The naxal-prone areas have also seen a drastic change.”
The prime minister also stressed on the growing significance of mother tongue. “I want to thank the Supreme Court for saying that the operative part of the judgment delivered by the apex court would be made available to an applicant in his mother tongue,” he said. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, sitting in the audience, reportedly folded his hands in acknowledgement.
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.