In his fourth Independence Day speech at the Red Fort on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on varied issues, ranging from farmers' issues, GST, demonetisation, terrorism and triple talaq. Here are 10 points of his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort:
The prime minister was being criticised for not talking about the Gorakhpur hospital tragedy which has killed over 70 children so far. However, Modi broke his silence on Tuesday. The prime minister said, "In the last few days, some of our innocent children died in a hospital. All the countrymen stand together at this time," he said.
Pitch for New India
During the course of his speech, Modi said that India should create a New India before 2022, the year when it celebrates 75th year of Independence. "We have to take the country ahead with the determination of creating a 'New India'," Modi said.
Let us come together to create an India free of corruption, nepotism, casteism, communalism and terrorism. Let us build a country which is clean, healthy and is self-determined," he said.
Invoking Quit India Movement
Modi had previously spoken on the Quit India Movement during his monthly Mann ki Baat address as well as the special session of the Parliament to commomerate the event. During his Independence Day speech, he once again invoked the historic event.
Asking Indians to take inspiration from the 1942 movement, Modi said, "Within five years, the British had left the country because of our unity," he said. "We have to take a sankalp of new India and take the country forward."
Remembering the contribtion of Mahatma Gandhi to the freedom movement,"There was a Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once. People with cotton in their hands support Gandhi and eventually, the country got freedom," he added.
Prime minister says 2018 crucial year for India
Modi put special emphasis on the New Years' Day 2018, telling Indians that the year will mark the comming of age of a whole generation which will steer India forward.
"The upcoming 1 January on 2018 will not be standard. The people who were born in the 21st century will find that this date will decide a lot in their lives," he said.
"I welcome all the youths who will turn 18 in 2018. Now, you are getting an opportunity to be a part of the force which develops India," said the prime minister.
Modi invoked surgical strikes and national security
Modi hailed the surgical strikes, that took place on 29 November, 2016 and reiterated that his government is serious about tackling various national security issues. "After the surgical strike, the entire world had to acknowledge India's strength," the prime minister said.
"The concern for national security is a natural one in an independent India," Modi said.
"Our security forces have always shown their capabilities whenever on duty. Whether it is terrorism or infiltrators, our security personnel have always been ready for sacrifice," Modi added.
People are celebrating mahotsav of honesty today
Modi hailed his government for several breakthrough measures like One Rank One Pension, GST and demonetisation.
Taking a jibe at black money holders, Modi said, "The people who stole from the poor are still uncomfortable.Today, people are celebrating a mahotsav of honesty," said the prime minister.
Reiterating the government's committment to the armed forces, Modi said, "For 30 or 40 years, the matter of One Rank One Pension was stuck. But our government took steps to fulfil the demand of our security personnel."
On government's other development measures, he said,"Today, roads and railway tracks are being constructed twice as fast. Today, over 14,000 villages have got electricity."
Focussing on financial inclusion of the weaker sections of the society, Modi said, "29 crore people have got bank accounts now."
Kashmir issue can be solved peacefully
Militancy in Kashmir was another major highlight of the speech. Taking a conciliatory approach towards Kashmiris, Modi reiterated that the Kashmir issue can be solved only through peaceful means. "Parivartan hoga Kashmiri ko gale lagake (There can be a chnage only by taking Kashmiris together)," Modi said.
Promising to bring prosperity to the militancy-infested state, he said: "The development of Jammu and Kashmir is also a committment of the people and the government there."
Tough stance on militancy
However, while the prime minister spoke of involving common Kashmiris in India's growth story, he said that militancy will not be treated leniently.
"A lot happens in Kashmir. A lot of claims have been made. A lot of people abuse each other. There are a lot of separatists. But there will be no leniency for terrorism. I have told many to become a part of democracy," said the prime minister.
Modi backs Triple Talaq
The Triple Talaq issue found a notable mention in the speech. Reiterating his government's support to the movement against Triple Talaq, ,Modi added that India will also support Muslim women in their struggle.
"I believe India will fully support the women in their struggle. The women of this country created a revolution against Triple Talaq. There was an atmosphere against Triple Talaq in the country with even the media supporting the women,"he said.
Modi hits out at communalism and casteism
Modi asserted that violence in the name of faith is "not acceptable" and described casteism and communalism as "poison" for the country. The comments assume significance in the backdrop of incidents of lynchings by cow vigilantes.
"Violence in the name of faith is not acceptable in the country," Modi said.
Pitching for harmony and peace, he said "Bharat Jodo" (connect India) should be the slogan like "Bharat chhodo" (Quit India) was during the freedom struggle. Modi said that problems like communalism and casteism cannot benefit the country in any way. "Therefore, violence cannot be emphasised in the name of faith," he said.
Modi hails GST reform
Calling GST as an example of co-operative federalism, Modi said that the reform will help the nation achieve higher growth without losing any momentum. "Through GST the nation gave new direction to competitive federalism," he said. "Technology is a miracle. People wondered how GST was rolled so fast across the country," Modi said.
"After GST enrolment, our truck drivers save 30 percent of their time in travel now," he added.
Demonetisation - the biggest measure to fight corruption
Modi termed the move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as a fight against black money. "Today, I want to proudly tell people that within just three years, we have recovered Rs 1.25 lakh crore black money," he said.
"Through note ban, the black money came out. It was our endeavour to recover black money and then make it a constructive part of the economy," Modi said.
Last year, India had 22 lakh tax payers. However, Modi said that between 1 April and 5 August this year, the number went up to 56 lakh.
Thanking the citizens for their patience during the note ban, Modi said, "After demonetisation, many people are saying that my political career is over," said Modi. "But due to the patience and sacrifice of the people, we are becoming successful in the fight against corruption."
Modi said that after demonetisation, the government cracked down over shell companies, which were acting as a front for hawala transactions.
"The businessmen with black money used to run shell companies. After demonetisation, three lakh shell companies were found. And out of that, we cancelled the registration of 1.75 lakh companies," said the prime minister.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 15, 2017 10:49 AM