PM's Independence Day Speech: From COVID-19 vaccine to call for 'atmanirbhar' India, highlights of Narendra Modi's address

Dressed in his customary kurta pyjama and safa, the prime minister, in his nearly 90-minute address, dwelt at length on his 'atmanirbhar Bharat' campaign

FP Staff August 15, 2020 11:44:48 IST
PM's Independence Day Speech: From COVID-19 vaccine to call for 'atmanirbhar' India, highlights of Narendra Modi's address

Giving his seventh Independence Day address from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday remphasised his call for an 'atmanirbhar' India as he touched upon issues ranging from a possible COVID-19 vaccine to the stand-off with China in Ladakh.

Dressed in his customary kurta pyjama and safa, the prime minister, in his nearly 90-minute address, dwelt at length on his "atmanirbhar Bharat" campaign and gave a call for reducing imports and pushing exports of finished products in place raw material, saying the country will have to move forward with the mantra of ''Make in India'' as well as ''Make for World''.

''Atmanirbhar Bharat'' is no longer merely a word but has become a mantra and captured people's imagination, he said.

Modi also touched upon the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine and said three vaccines are in various phases of trials in the country. He said that a roadmap is ready to inoculate all citizens at the shortest possible time with their mass production after scientists give a green signal.

The phase-1 and 2 human clinical trials of two of them, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR), and Zydus Cadila Ltd, are currently underway.

The Serum Institute of India has been permitted for conducting Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the third vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University. The Pune-based institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing the vaccine.

The prime minister also announced the launch of the National Digital Health Mission, which will store health records digitally and under which each Indian will get an a unique health ID.

The prime minister said the mission will help reduce problems in getting treatment in various health facilities in the country and herald a new revolution in the sector.

PM praises COVID-19 warriors

The prime minister paid tribute to freedom fighters and security forces while also remembering Aurobindo Ghose, a freedom fighter and spiritual philosopher whose birth anniversary is today.

India's freedom struggle, he said, became a challenge to forces of expansionism while attempts were made for hundreds of years by various rulers to root out India's culture and traditions.

Hailing ''corona warriors'', including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and sanitation workers who have been continuously fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Modi said the country will achieve victory over coronavirus with the resolve of its over 130 crore citizens.

On Friday, India reported as many as 64,553 new coronavirus cases and 1,007 deaths, taking the total tally to 24,61,191, including 6,61,595 active cases, 17,51,556 discharged/migrated and 48,040 deaths.

Union health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal, who used to address daily media briefings on the COVID-19 outbreak when it was picking up pace in the country, also tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the midst of coronavirus pandemic, Indians have resolved to become self-reliant, the prime minister said, adding this is not a word but a mantra for all people.

Assembly elections in J&K soon: PM

The prime minister said that India is committed to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir once delimitation exercise is completed.

The Centre had on 6 August appointed Manoj Sinha as Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, a move many had seen as an indication that polls would be held imminently.

The choice of Sinha, combined with the release of select political leadership in the Valley, could signal the possibility of creating conditions to restart the electoral process in the Union Territory where Assembly polls are pending, this News18 piece had argued.

"Ladakh too is seeing a lot of work done. Ladakh is leading the way and is focusing on becoming carbon-neutral. Just as Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state, efforts are being made to make Ladakh a carbon neutral region. We are working actively with residents of Ladakh in taking new and innovative ways of development," the prime minister said.

'Befitting reply given'

Modi taking a dig at China without mentioning it, said "those who challenge India's sovereignty, be it LOC or LAC, have been given a befitting reply in their own language".

The prime minister's dig comes a day after Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri met a senior Chinese Army General and briefed him on India's stand on the situation at the borders in eastern Ladakh and against the backdrop of reports that the disengagement process between the troops of the two countries has not moved forward as expected along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

At the latest round of military talks, the Indian side insisted forcefully on complete disengagement of Chinese troops at the earliest, and immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to 5 May when the stand-off began following a clash between the two armies in Pangong Tso.

Modi further said, "Today the world stands with India, and to get 184 votes out of 192 nations in the UN for a (non-permanent) seat at the UN Security Council is a testament of it."

The prime minister also said that to become "atmanirbhar" in defence production is a top priority.

"Now, from pistols and guns to tanks and fighter jets like the Tejas, from artillery guns to missiles, everything will be made in India," he said.

Last week, defence minister Rajnath Singh, in a major push to promote the domestic defence industry, had announced restrictions on import of 101 weapons and military platforms including light combat helicopters, transport aircraft, conventional submarines and cruise missiles by 2024.

Making the announcement on Twitter, the defence minister estimated that the domestic defence industry would receive contracts worth almost Rs four lakh crore within the next five to seven years as a result of the decision to prune the import list.

'Indians chosen to be united'

Modi said the Ayodhya land dispute was recently resolved in legal manner and that a grand Ram temple is now being built at Lord Ram's birthplace.

Modi on 5 August laid the first brick for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, a site that Hindus and Muslims claimed ownership over for decades until the Supreme Court handed it over to the Hindus in November, 2019.

Speaking on the construction of Ram temple, he said, "Today, Indians have chosen to be united. Peace and respect for each other is what defines us as a nation."

He said there are numerous challenges in becoming self-reliant, but there are millions of solutions as well.

"India has always believed that the entire world is one family. While we focus on economic growth and development, humanity must retain a central role in this process and our journey," Modi said.

Citing an example what India can do, Modi said before the COVID-19 panedmic, the country was not making N-95 masks, PPE and ventillators, but now it is in a position to export such items.

PM pushes vocal for local

Asserting that India's new pledge must be 'vocal for local', Modi said, "We have seen that when we put our mind to it, we can achieve anything. We never made PPE Kits, our production of masks and ventilators was meagre but, today we are making it all."

Modi and top ministers such as Amit Shah and Piyush Goyal last week took to social media asking people to be "vocal for handmade" products to strengthen efforts for a self-reliant India.

"Over the last year, with an 18 percent increase, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) have broken all past records. It is commendable that even as the world battles COVID-19, investments are pouring into India. It tells us that the world sees our potential and has hope from a rising India," he said.

Focusing on multi-modal infrastucture development, Modi said, "No longer are we segregating rail, from road, ports from airports. We have clubbed them to have a holistic approach to infrastructure development."

"Be it electricity for all, gas connections for all, bank accounts for all, toilets in all homes, public sanitation for all, ration to reach all irrespective where they are, the world's largest health cover of up to 5 lakhs for many, connecting villages with the intrnet, bringing technology to small business and ration shops, giving benefits and freedom to farmers - all of it is being done at a rapid pace, and in an inclusive manner," the prime minister said.

'Education policy will shape new India'

Speaking on India's new education policy, he said, "This will shape the India of the 21st Century. We will soon have citizens who shape a new India, ones who are global citizens, but know and understand their roots. The new education policy has also focused on research and development to make India a key R&D destination for the world."

India's National Education Policy (NEP) was given a complete overhaul for the first time three decades with the Union Cabinet givings its approval to the new policy document at the end of July.

The key highlights of the revamped policy include a single regulator for higher education institutions, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, discontinuation of MPhil programmes, "low stakes" board exams and common entrance exams for universities, among other things.

Modi said that the government will soon unveil a new cybersecurity policy.

The nation has accepted new methods of transactions, digital transactions have already crossed Rs 3 lakh crore. In the next 1,000 days, villages across the country will have optical fibre connections available, said Modi.

Claiming that in the next 1,000 days Lakshadweep will also be connected with high-speed internet, Modi said: "Recently, we launched a submarine fibre optic cable to connect Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the rest of India digitally.This will bring high-speed internet and other benefits to residents in those islands."

With inputs from PTI

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