Prime Minister Narendra Modi today at his inaugural address to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day announced an ambitious plan for financial inclusion of the poorest of Indians, promised that the existing Planning Commission would soon be replaced by an entity imbued with greater spirit of federalism and appealed to the youth to work towards making India a manufacturing hub.
The PM appealed to all countrymen as well as Non Resident Indians and the world at large to contribute in making India a manufacturing hub. He said India needed to balance its import and export baskets as also generate employment for its youth.
“Come ‘make in India’, I appeal to the world,” Modi said, adding “sell anywhere but manufacture here.”
“But do not compromise on zero defect and zero effect,” he said, elaborating that the goods should be of good quality or have zero defect and the manufacturing process shouldn’t pollute the environment, that is it should have zero effect.
The PM, in his address from the Red Fort, also spoke about the poor sex ratio that needed to be addressed. He expressed his concern at the lack of safety of women, asked all MPs to spend their development funds to construct toilets for girls in all schools to reduce drop out rate of girl students, and said each MP as also MLA should adopt one village in the country to make it a model village.
He said in the changed scenario the Planning Commission will need to be recast, replaced by an institution which will have a new “sharir” (shape) and “atma” (spirit), where state governments will have a greater voice.
The PM also spoke about the importance of e-governance and of digital India that would enable telemedicine to reach remotest areas with no doctors. He said just as earlier the railways linked India, now it was information technology and broadband networks which would give unity to India. Modi said e-governance was easy, effective and economical governance.
He also underlined the need for promoting tourism as a growth sector, which gave jobs to street vendors, including tea sellers. Modi said this had a resonance for him as he was also a tea seller. But, the PM said, a big hindrance in the growth of tourism was lack of cleanliness in India.
The PM said he will launch a ‘Swachha Bharat Abhiyan’ or a cleanliness mission on October 2, the birth anniversary of Gandhi.
Modi said it was shameful that women in rural areas had to go for public defecation because of lack of toilets. “Can’t we make toilets to protect the dignity of our women?” he asked.
The PM said that people shouldn’t be surprised that he was talking about such mundane subjects as cleanliness and toilets from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort. He said he wanted to make promises which were achievable, for tall declarations and announcements, if not accomplished, mar a society with despondency.
Modi said there was a need to make existing villages into “model villages”. He said all MPs should pick one village and try make it into a ‘model village’. He said he would launch the ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ blueprint on the birth anniversary of ‘JP’ or Jayaprakash Narayan on 11 October. The PM requested state governments to ask MLAs that they also adopt one village and make it into a ‘model village’.
Modi called upon the Saarc (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) member states to together work to alleviate poverty from the region, just as they had worked to free themselves of the foreign yoke to achieve independence. He said in what seemed a clear message to Pakistan that Saarc countries should leave the path of violence towards each other and cooperate to make the region an economic force in the world. Modi said he visited Bhutan and Nepal and heads of Saarc member states attended the oath taking ceremony of his cabinet on May 26, and that it was his belief these steps will show good results. Modi also recounted the contribution of such men as Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Sardar Patel, JP and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
He spoke at length about how incidents of rape were a matter of concern, and that parents of boys were failing in their duty if they don’t ask their sons the same questions about their whereabouts and the peer group they ask their daughters. He said it was the responsibility of all parents to stop their children from adopting the path of violence, including those who have become terrorists or Maoists. Modi gave the example of Nepal where men have abjured the path of ‘shastra’ or arms to adopt the road to ‘shaastra’ or Constitution. He said India should learn from the land of Buddha. Modi also appealed to all countrymen to leave the path of violence that took birth from communalism, caste-ism and regionalism. “Let’s have a 10-year moratorium,” Modi said.
The PM in his maiden speech from the Red Fort said that he wasn’t a ‘pradhan mantri’ (Prime Minister) but ‘pradhan sevak’ (Prime Servant) to the people and will work untiringly for the betterment of the country. To the soldiers and security personnel, the PM said: “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”