Prime minister Narendra Modi in his first Independence Day speech is expected to make big-ticket announcements, including a financial inclusion programme for all Indian households, housing for rural population under a new scheme National Gramin Awas Mission (NGAM) and also possibly a full statehood for Delhi. Full statehood has been the demand of the earlier Sheila Dikshit government as well.
Preparations here are afoot to make Modi's first I-Day speech eventful. There are plans to allow the public to enter the front lawns of the Red Fort, reminiscent of the Nehru-Indira Gandhi era. For many years now, due to security concerns, only a select gathering, including VIPs and diplomats and schoolchildren were allowed to sit in the front lawns. The Delhi BJP is arranging a crowd of 10,000 people to witness Modi's maiden address. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has been told to provide free ride to all commuters in all its buses in the national capital between 6 am and 10am on August 15.
A four-member team, headed by law and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, on last Friday finalised the draft of Modi's speech. The team has put forward talking points after getting inputs from all ministries and the party. The team includes young power minister Piyush Goyal, HRD minister Smriti Irani and chemicals and fertiliser minister Ananth Kumar. PMO sources said the team was still coordinating with various ministries to refine announcements.
The financial inclusion programme is aimed at making banking services accessible to everyone across the country in two phases by 2018. This would mean bringing an additional 75 million households into the banking system. Currently 68 million households in the country avail banking facilities.
Modi's speech is also likely to touch upon the larger aspects of the skill development programme and the Clean Ganga project announced earlier. Incidentally, the skill development programme, now handled by 21 ministries, is likely to be brought under under HRD minister Smriti Irani.
The programme to clean Ganga is handled by at least three ministries. Because of this bureaucratic tangle these two departments have not been functional even two months after the new government took charge. The Clean Ganga department will continue to be with Uma Bharti.