From inflation to food security, the PM's Independence Day address focused on infrastructure and rural development
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reached the Red Fort in the nation's capital city of New Delhi on the occasion of 70th Independence Day. He was received by defence minister Manoha Parrikar and other dignitaries.
Modi began his address to the nation by bringing into focus the march from self-governance to good-governance, which will require sacrifices, saying: "There was a time when the government was shrouded by allegations but now the government is surrounded by expectations."
Talking of his mantra, Modi said: "I have tried to adopt the strategy of 'Reform, Perform and Transform' and tried to avoid populism."
The main focus seemed to be on the development of rural infrastructure. "Construction of rural roads increased to 100 kilometres a day from 70-75 kilometres a day. Around four crore new gas connections had been distributed in 60 weeks as against 14 crore connections given in past 60 years, Modi said."
Then the Prime Minister moved on to power sources. "Laying of power transmission lines increased to 50,000 kilometres in a year from 30,000-35,000-kilometre earlier. Electricity has reached 10,000 villages out of 18,000 unelectricified villages."
After stating that the inflation rate has gone below six per cent, the Prime Minister brought food security into focus, saying: "I will continue to work to ensure food plate of poor is not affected by inflation."
"Sowing of pulses has increased 1.5 times this year, it will help solve problem of demand shortfall." But it wasn't only about grains. Modi spoke of reviving 90 shut irrigation schemes and 77,000 solar pumps being distributed to bring down input cost for farmers.
When it comes to storage, he mentions in his address that food godowns with 15 lakh ton capacity have been built and emphasis is on food processing with the objective being to double farmers' income by 2022. There will also be renewed focus on revival of 118 stuck projects worth Rs 7.5 lakh crore.
One of the major problems plaguing the nation is the plight of debt-ridden farmers. On this, the Prime Minister said that 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers have been cleared and 95 per cent of sugarcane sold this season has been paid for to farmers.
In the recently passed Goods and Services Tax bill, Modi promised a strong economy, thanking all parties for its passage.
The PM announced 20 per cent increase in pension of freedom fighters.
Our social unity is most important. Division in the name of caste, creed hurts the country. Need to rise above all these issues," the Prime Minister said adding that a tough and "sensitive" approach is required to tackle the age-old social evils whether it is castism or untouchability.
"A strong country cannot be built without a strong society which is based on social justice."
Country will not yield to terrorism and extremism, asserts PM, asking youth to shun violence and return to mainstream.
Narendra Modi hit out at neighbouring Pakistan saying they glorify terrorists attacking India while the nation cried when children were killed in terror attack on Peshawar.
Government to bear up to one lakh in Indian Rupees healthcare expenses annually for families below the poverty line, the Prime Minister added.