In his address to the nation on Independence Day, the Prime Minister has promised to improve a variety of things in the nation including economic growth, a spaceship to Mars and the passage of the Lokpal Bill.
8.03am: The Prime Minister says he hopes that the Lokpal bill will be brought before the Rajya Sabha. He reiterates a “commitment to make the work of the Government and administration transparent and accountable stands” but takes a tough stance, saying that they will ensure that decision making by administration is not affected by baseless allegations and complaints”, he adds in what is probably a veiled reference to the agitation campaigns carried out by Team Anna and Baba Ramdev.
“Our government believes that the challenges the country faces can be solved with the help of the aam aadmi. We should all come together to work for the benefit for the country”, he said.
8.00am: The Premier touches on naxalism as well. He promises developmental schemes in Naxal affected areas and says that the blasts in Pune show a lot more work is needed to ensure internal security is maintained. He outlines a host of development plans in this regard, including a new law on manual scavenging and a Mining Bill law so that tribals can benefit from mining in forest areas through compensation.
In terms of national security, the Premier assures the armed forces that they will have access to the latest technology, and thanks them wholeheartedly for their service to the nation.
7.57am: The expected reference to the violence in Assam has been made. The Prime Minister calls the situation ‘unfortunate’ and promises that the government will try to do more to understand the cause of the problem and work to ensure that such a situation does not arise again. “Many lives have been lost and many displaced. They have our complete sympathy”, he said. No reference to illegal immigration or Bangladesh, but that is not unexpected.
7.56am: The Prime Minister also announces the formation of a National Skills Development Authority to skill 8 crore youth in the next five years. He also speaks of infrastructure and the importance of ensuring that efforts continue to be taken to develop vital infrastructure across the country.
7.46am: From power to education. The Prime Minister says that the government will take “special steps to ensure children across the country receive education since they are the country’s future”. A more stirring sentiment than the Doordarshan commentator who likened them to the ‘wind’.
He also says the government will pay attention to improving the quality of education, and speaks of installing a new system soon to check how much children actually benefit from education. “More than 51,000 new schools have been opened in the country and about 7 lakh teachers appointed in them in just the last two years. Participation of the community and parents would be ensured so that they can be satisfied with the quality of teaching and education”, he said.
Apart from education and still on the subject of children, the Premier reiterates that the government has taken many steps to curb polio and ensure nutrition for children. “In the last one and half years no new case of polio has come to light and now India is not in the list of countries affected by Polio”, he said.
7.45am: The premier is now talking about government programmes such as the NREGA. “We should be reassured by the fact that we have met successes in many areas over the last few years. Today every one our of five houses is gaining from MNREGA”, he said. He reiterates an old government promise to ensure that every family in the country receives electricity. No word on national grids and overdrawing states as yet.
7.40am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh immediately gets to the serious stuff, ie: the economy. He talks of how the world economy is going through tumult and how the European economy is growing at almost 0 percent, the drought, and the steps being taken by the government to mitigate its impact. “We should consider our economic progress as important as national security”, he said.
“We are giving diesel subsidies and seed subsidies. Our attempt is to ensure there are no problems for our farmers. We have to keep a control on prices. There will be some difficulty due to a bad monsoon but we are taking steps”, he added.
7.33am: The Prime Minister begins his speech recounting that the nation has achieved much in its 66 years of independence. “It is certainly a day to celebrate the success of our democracy. However we should also introspect about what remains to be done. We have to eradicate poverty, hunger and backwardness from the nation” he said.
7.31am: The flag has been unfurled to the strains of the national anthem, the Premier will now address the nation.
7.26am: The Prime Minister has been escorted through the Lahori gate at the Red Fort, where the national flag will be unfurled atop the ramparts amid a 21 gun salute. He was greeted by the head of the three armed forces on the first level of the fort.
The Doordarshan commentators have waxed poetic about the children present at the Red Fort to witness the unfurling of the flag and hear the speech, likening them to the wind because you “can refresh yourself by them, and they are always flowing”. Stirring emotions this Independence day.
7.21am: The Prime Minister’s cavalcade is now approaching the Red Fort where he will inspect a guard of honour. The Premier stopped at Rajghat to pay his respects at the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, and Indira Gandhi among others.
7.07am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to make his annual Independence day speech at the Red Fort on Wednesday, where he is expected to speak on the issues of Black Money and Graft among a host of other issues currently in the nations consciousness.
The allusion to Black Money will be particularly significant, given the massive protest by Baba Ramdev which finally came to and end on Tuesday, when the yoga guru turned activist agreed to vacate the Ambedkar grounds on which he and a few thousand supporters were protesting.
In addition to Black Money, the Prime Minister is also due to speak on the Assam crisis, drought and FDI.
Ahead of the scheduled addres,s the Prime Ministers Office has tweeted out a picture of students gathered at the Red Fot to hear his address:
Children at Red Fort to participate in the Independence Day celebrations – twitter.com/PMOIndia/statu…
— Dr Manmohan Singh (@PMOIndia) अगस्त 15, 2012