New Delhi: Making the fight against corruption and ‘parivaarwad’ (dynastic politics) the centerpiece of his 9th Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought the “blessings” of 130 crore Indians to fight against the twin evils that he said could come in the way of what the country could achieve in the next 25 years.
Modi also stressed that besides cooperative federalism, India now also needs cooperative competitive federalism, where states outshine each other in development.
In his 90-minute speech, the PM said that there was a need for an environment of competition among states and various units of the government to achieve newer heights of development.
Calling it the need of the hour, Modi said, “There should be a healthy spirit of competition among the states while progressing in different sectors. Programmes could be different, working styles could be different. But dreams for the country cannot be different,” the PM said.
Over the past two years, Centre-state relations have been fractious with many states accusing the central government of usurping their powers. Many states, including Punjab, have withdrawn their general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe cases in their respective states, while states like West Bengal have refused to implement many of the central schemes.
At the recent conclave of chief secretaries in Dharamshala, some of the states said the central government had a tendency to put on a “big brother” role while dealing with states.
Recalling his time as Gujarat CM, Modi said that despite a different government at the Centre, he had managed to move ahead with the mantra of ‘Gujarat’s development for nation’s development.’
Donning a traditional national flag motif safa (headgear) as he addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, Modi also gave a strong message in support of ‘Nari shakti’ or ‘women power’, and asked the nation to take a pledge to stop disrespecting women.
Modi also laid out five goals (panchpran) for his countrymen to achieve before 2047 — make a bigger resolve to help develop India, erase all traces of servitude, be proud of India’s legacy, understand the strength of unity, and be aware of one’s duties as citizens.
India, Modi said, must become a developed nation before it marks its centenary.
“India is the mother of democracy, diversity is its strength,” Modi said.
The 75th Independence Day celebration was also special as for the first time, an indigenously developed howitzer gun was used to give a ceremonial 21-shot salute during the morning ceremony at Red Fort. The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System prototype was developed under the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Commending the Armed Forces for the achievement, Modi used the opportunity to stress the importance of adopting his vision of Atmanirbha Bharat (self-reliant India), calling it the responsibility of every citizen, government, and every unit of society.
“It’s not a government agenda but a mass movement of society,” Modi said.
Need to fight corruption and dynastic politics
Corruption and nepotism are the biggest challenge facing India and are hollowing out the country and its institutions like termites, the PM said, as he made an oblique reference to the Trinamool Congress leader Partho Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee from whose apartments the Enforcement Directorate has claimed to recover Rs 50 crore in cash.
“Modi said that some people don’t have homes others don’t have rooms to keep their ill-gotten wealth,” he said. “Today the nation shows anger towards corruption, but not the corrupt. Until and unless, people have the mentality of penalising the corrupt, the nation cannot progress at an optimal pace.”
“Corruption is damaging the country like termites. The country will have to fight it… We have to weed out corruption,” he said.
Talking about how his government has been working to root out corruption, Modi said, “In the last 8 years, through Direct Benefit Transfers alone, we’ve [ensured that] nearly Rs 2 lakh crore that used to fall into the wrong hands, reaches the poor and deserving. We are entering a decisive phase of the war against corruption”.
The PM also stressed the need to rid India of nepotism and give opportunities to those who are talented.
“Dynasty politics is only for the benefit of the dynasty, not the country. My young friends, I need your help to fight against nepotism. It is my constitutional duty,” he said.
Giving the example of Indian sportspersons’ recent haul of medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Modi said that it’s not that we didn’t have talent earlier. “But transparent selection bereft of nepotism has led to Indians scoring medals,” he said.
The PM said that when he speaks of nepotism, he doesn’t speak of politics alone.
“The tendency of politics has seeped into every institution and sector of society. This directly affects talent in our country. We must create awareness against such nepotism in every institution,” he said.
‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyaan aur Jai Anusandhan’
Modi came up with a new slogan to mark India’s achievement in research and innovation — ‘’Jai Anusandhan” (research & innovation).
“We always remember Lal Bahadur Shastri ji’s slogan of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. Later, A.B. Vajpayee (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) added ‘Jai Vigyaan‘ to this slogan. Now, there is another necessity to add — Jai Anusandhan. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyaan aur Jai Anusandhan.”
He also spoke about the contributions of “architects of free India” — from Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, and V.D. Savarkar, to the freedom fighters who gave their lives like Mangal Pandey, Tatya Tope, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqulla Khan, and Ram Prasad Bismil.
He also reached out to the tribal community, whose leaders like Bhagwan Birsa Munda, Sidhu-Kanhu, Alluri Sitarama Raju, and Govind Guru had contributed to the freedom struggle.
‘Need to address the aspirational society’
India is an aspirational society where every citizen wants to change things but is not ready to wait, the PM said.
“Every government has to address this aspirational society,” Modi said, adding that an aspirational society is an asset to any country.
The PM once again emphasised the need for an atma nirbhar, or self-reliant, India.
“We need to become atma nirbhar in our energy sector,” he added. “From solar energy to Mission Hydrogen to adoption to EVs, we need to take these initiatives to the next level for energy independence.”
Modi said that the next 10 years would be the decade of technology.
“Atal Innovation Mission, Start-up, Space Mission, Deep Ocean Mission, Digital Entrepreneurs, 5G India’s tech-ade is here. With 5G, semiconductor manufacturing & OFCs in villages, we are bringing a revolution through Digital India to the grassroots level.”
From the space sector to drone manufacturing to natural farming, India is progressing rapidly in every sector, Modi said.
“It’s our endeavour that the youth of the country get all support for research in all areas from — space to the depths of the ocean. That’s why we are expanding our Space Mission and Deep Ocean Mission. The solution to our future lies in the depths of space and the ocean.”
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)