For the sixth year in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the country from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on Thursday on the occasion of Independence Day. The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, a recent landmark decision by the Modi government, and job growth, one of the pillars of the ruling party’s campaign ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, may set the tempo of the prime minister’s speech.
Another aspect that might find a mention in the speech is the country’s strong stand against terrorism, the events since the Pulwama attack in February and the actions taken by the government thereafter, which were also frequently talked about in speeches by various BJP leaders, including Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Modi, who is the second BJP prime minister after Atal Bihari Vajpayee to deliver six Independence Day speeches, has also been known to launch the government’s flagship schemes like Swachh Bharat and Ayushman Bharat during his addresses to the nation on Independence Day.
Modi’s speeches have retained the thrust on nationalism and focus on rural topics, but on themes relating to religion and caste, he seems to have spent relatively less time than his predecessors, a Mint analysis found. The most striking feature of Modi’s speeches remained the theme of poverty.
Hailing the nation’s achievement, like the INS Tarini voyage, the successful completion of the Mount Everest journey by tribal children, the prime minister has also talked about events that have struck chords of nostalgia or sympathy with the people, like the Jallianwala Bagh’s anniversary and the Kerala floods last year.
The theme of social justice for various sections of the society and the protection of interests and the government and Parliament’s actions in ensuring the same, apart from economy, development, defence expenditure and India’s presence on the global platform, were salient parts of Modi’s speech in 2018. He also touched upon the issue of black money and corruption, over a year after the widely-criticised steps by the Centre — demonetisation and GST.
Even a year ago, Jammu and Kashmir was one the issues Modi had spoken about. “We do not want the path of bullets and abuses. In the months to come, rural people of Jammu and Kashmir will be able to enjoy their rights. They will be able to take care of themselves,” he had said in 2018, referring to his government's decision to hold panchayat elections in the state.
While promising a 'new India', Modi stressed on the importance of internal security in his 2017 Independence Day speech, riding on the successful surgical strikes held in response to the 2016 Uri attack. The issue of corruption remained an integral part of the speech, with Modi talking about the government’s move against Benami assets. The Prime Minister had then too talked about meeting triple talaq and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir with an iron hand.
Delivering the good news of containment of inflation, profitability of Air India and BSNL and improvement in India’s global ease of doing business rankings, Modi said in his 2016 Independence Day speech that the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Economic Forum, among other such agencies have appreciated India’s progress.
Further, stressing on the schemes to quell poverty, provide electricity and cooking gas, build toilets, ensure the betterment of farmers, the betterment of women and extension of maternity leave period implemented by the government led by him, the prime minister had said that “mere economic progress” does not guarantee a strong India.
“The guarantee of a strong India lies in a strong society. And a strong society is built at the edifice of social justice,” he had said. He had also informed that over 1,100 obsolete laws were eradicated.
He went on to condemn the terror attack on a school in Pakistan’s Peshawar in 2016, the importance of renewable energy and the resolution of the India-Bangladesh border dispute, which saw the physical transfer of enclaves and surrender of land parcels in adverse possession along with official boundary demarcations.
In his second Independence Day speech as the prime minister, Modi had in 2015 introduced the idea of building toilets across the country in response to the problem of open defecation, related health issues and safety of women. He also focussed on the need to ensure the betterment of Indian’s eastern states and on poverty.
He had talked of schemes to issue special identity cards to the unorganised labour, providing LPG in rural and remote pockets, encouraging start-ups and resultant job creation.
“We have to fulfil the dream of a well-cultured, self-confident and excellent India. No poor person in this country should remain without shelter by 2022. Our farmer should be capable, our worker should be satisfied, our women should be empowered, our youth should be self-dependent, our elderly should be hail and hearty and our poor should be prosperous. No one should remain backward in our society and everyone should enjoy equal rights and entire Indian society should reel in harmony,” Modi, only second year into his first term as the prime minister, had said detailing his vision for the country.
In the speech, he had also invited people’s participation in the process of governance through the electronic platform mygov.in, Mann Ki Baat and dialogues. He had also stressed on the need for eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and other north-eastern regions to tread the path of development.
While informing those present at the Red Fort that the One Rank, One Pension proposal still awaits resolution, he had said that under the BJP-led government, inflation came down from double digits to 3-4 percent.
In his first speech as the prime minister in 2014, Modi had introduced himself as the “prime servant of India”.
“We walk together, we move together, we think together, we resolve together and together we take this country forward,” he had resolved, adding that the credit for the same also goes to the Opposition. He talked about his goals to ensure the protection of the girl child, enforce good governance, bring down farmer suicides, encourage a young and skilled workforce, bring manufacturing to India through the Make In India programme, propagate the digitisation of the country and overall ensure development.
“You can imagine what a quality education the children in villages will get, if all the villages of India are connected with broadband connectivity and if we are able to give long distance education to the schools in every remote corner. If we create a network of telemedicine in the places where there is a shortage of doctors, we can have a clear guideline of the way in which health facilities have to be provided to the poor,” Modi had said.
In his first speech from Red Fort, Modi Had also announced the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, which aimed to expand and make affordable access to financial services such as bank accounts, remittances, credit, insurance and pensions. He had also announced the replacement of Planning Commission with a federal structure and that Members of Parliament would have to make one village in their constituency a model village by 2016.
He had also spoken of his aim to make India’s foreign policy “multi-dimensional. “India cannot decide its future by remaining isolated and sitting alone in a corner. The economics of the world have changed,” he had said.
He also said that India can join hands with SAARC countries to fight against poverty.
“The way we fought for freedom, can we not defeat poverty?” he had said.
Updated Date: Aug 15, 2019 00:37:51 IST