As India completed 67 years of its independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the Red Fort. By shunning a script or a bullet proof screen between him and the audience, he had set the stage for a speech which was natural and high in emotions. He said he was not the Pradhan Mantri (Prime Minister) but the Pradhan Sevak (first servant) of the nation.
Here are 10 major issues that he spoke about:
1. Majority not consensus: Modi thanked the state and union government and all the departments for working towards building the nation. He said he would not rule by mandate, but try to build consensus. He said the opposition also deserved credit for nation building.
2. An outsider's view of Delhi: The prime minister said he came to Delhi as an outsider and had to figure out the workings of the government over due course of time. He said there were many governments within a single government, and everyone fought for their own space. There would be infighting that would be escalated to the courts. Modi said he would have to break down these walls between departments. He also said officers coming to work on time should not have to be news.
3. Women's safety: Modi brought back one of the highlights of his Lok Sabha election campaign: women's safety. He said parents ask too many questions to the girl child: where she is going, when she will be back, where she will come back from, etc. He said if parents ask a similar number and type of of questions to their sons, many unwanted incidents could be avoided. After all the person raping is someone's son.
4. Path of violence: In the same vein, Modi said the law could be strict and could take its own course. But as a society we must bring back people who have deviated from the right path. He referred to Naxal violence, saying there are many who take up guns. The guns could turn the soil red, but the plough in others' hands could turn the soil greener. He drew reference to the Maoists of Nepal, and said even they were now engaged in building the constitution of the country. Violence has not got people anywhere, he said. The country has seen caste and communal violence for too long and it was time to move away from that path.
5. Scrapping the Planning Commission: A new India needed a new model of looking at planning, Modi said. The Planning Commission was formed in India after independence with its own requirements. The importance of the federal structure of governance has gone up. He said the Planning Commission will be scrapped and a new institution would take its place shortly.
6. Ushering in the era of made-in-India: India has a huge demographic advantage in the world and the country must work towards taking advantage of it, the prime minister said. The country must work towards better skill development and make itself a manufacturing hub to avoid imports from other countries as much as possible. He gave the example of electronic goods and said India imported most of its television sets and smart phones. He said he dreamt of seeing the “Made in India” tag on products all over the globe. He said he will tell the world, “Come, make in India.” “You can sell anywhere, but make it here. We have the skills and talent for it.”
7. A digital era: Modi said India was digitalising very fast, with an increasing number of people gaining access to smart phones and internet everyday. India should take advantage of the position and digitalise itself steadily. He said e-governance stood for easy and economic governance.
8. Garibi Hatao: Modi almost invoked Indira Gandhi's campaign slogan of 'Garibi Hatao' saying India needed to fight poverty in a resolute manner. However, deprivation is not just a story of our country, but also of our neighbours. He invited the SAARC nations to join hands and fight poverty together.
9. Model villages: Modi announced the Sansad Adarsh Yojana where every member of Parliament, belonging to either Houses would get to choose a village. On October 11, the birth anniversary of Jai Prakash Narayan, he will share the blueprint of the scheme. The model villages would lead the way and inspire surrounding villages to develop as well.
10. Female foeticide and sanitation for women: Apart from speaking about sexual abuse of women, Modi also spoke of the need to build toilets for women in all schools to retain them in education. He said some might think it is not right for a Prime Minister to speak of toilets from the Red Fort, but it was an issue of prime importance and the nation would need to set target for itself. Within one year, the country should be able to build toilets in all girls' schools. The PM urged doctors and parents not kill a girl child. He said there are many sports persons who have made the country proud by getting medals, and there are many women on that list. He appealed to the nation not to sacrifice the girl child.
11. Insurance and a bank account for all: Modi announced the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, where even the poorest of the poor would have a bank account. Under the scheme, the government would put Rs 1 lakh insurance for each citizen. No farmer should commit suicide for being unable to repay debts.