Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hoisted the national flag from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort to celebrate India's 73rd Independence Day. Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and a colourful turban, Modi addressed the nation from the Red Fort. Among a slew of announcements, he said that his government would invest a massive Rs 100 trillion in developing modern infrastructure to help nearly double the size of the Indian economy to $5 trillion in five years. He also said that reforms would continue to be ushered in to help India become one of the top 50 countries in 'ease of doing business' rankings. During his address, the Prime Minister also said that the government was launching the Rs 3.5-trillion Jal Jeevan Mission to bring piped water to households and that India was set to get a Chief of Defence Staff, among other things. Here are the highlights of PM Modi's Independence Day speech:
1) Govt will invest Rs 100 trillion in infra: Modi
PM Modi on Thursday said that his government would invest a massive Rs 100 trillion in developing modern infrastructure to help nearly double the size of the Indian economy to $5 trillion in five years’ time. Addressing the nation on its 73rd Independence Day, he said that reforms would continue to be ushered in to help India become one of the top 50 countries in the 'ease of doing business' ranking.
"To some, the target of nearly doubling the size of Indian economy to $5 trillion in five years may seem difficult. But when we have added $1 trillion in five years (of BJP rule), to the $2-trillion size achieved in 70 years since Independence, this target is achievable," he said. Modi said political stability through a massive mandate for his government alongside predictable policy provided a unique opportunity for India to grow. "The country shouldn't lose this opportunity," he said, adding that his government has provided high growth while keeping inflation at low rate. He referred to reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for aiding the growth process and said the government would invest Rs 100 trillion in building modern ports, highways, railways, airports, hospitals and educational institutions. The prime minister also said that the era of policy paralysis had ended and his government was giving policy-based governance to help catapult the country from 142nd place among 190 nations on the World Bank's ease of doing business ranking in 2014 to 77th position this year. Reforms would continue and procedures would be further eased to make it easier for companies to do business in the country, he said, adding that efforts were on to increase the size of the economy to $5 trillion. "The target is to break into top 50 nations," he said.
2) Govt to launch Rs 3.5-trn Jal Jeevan Mission to bring piped water to households
PM Modi said that the government would launch a Jal Jeevan Mission to bring piped water to households and resolved to spend more than Rs 3.5 trillion in the coming years. In his Independence Day address, Modi said half of the country's households did not have access to piped water. "I want to announce from the Red Fort that we will move forward with Jal Jeevan Mission. The Centre and states will work towards it and in coming years more than Rs 3.5 trillion will be spent," he said.
Modi said that for water conservation, efforts in the next five years needed to quadruple from what was done in the last seven decades.
3) PM announces creation of Chief of Defence Staff
In a major decision, PM Modi announced the creation of a chief of defence staff (CDS) as head of the tri-services. The prime minister said the CDS would ensure synergy among the three services and provide effective leadership to them. "Our government has decided to have a Chief of Defence Staff- CDS," Modi said.
A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country's security system in the wake of the Kargil War in 1999 had called for appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point military advisor to the defence minister. A group of ministers analysing required reforms in the national security system had also favoured appointing a chief of defence staff. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Task Force had recommended creating the post of a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The CoSC comprises chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force and the senior-most among them acts as its chairman according to the existing norms.
4) We neither nurse problems, nor keep them pending: PM on Article 370
PM Modi also asserted that his government neither nursed problems nor kept them pending. Referring to the scrapping of a special status accorded to Jammu & Kashmir, he said India now was ‘one nation with one Constitution’. He also said that within 10 weeks of assuming power, his government had taken key decisions like bringing a new law to ban the practice of instant triple talaq and scrapping provisions of Article 370 related to Jammu & Kashmir.
"Our government does not delay decisions. We neither nurse problems nor keep them pending," he said while referring to Article 370. Previous governments made efforts in the past 70 years to deal with Kashmir, but it did not bear results, he said, adding "a new approach was needed". He said his government had dedicated itself on all fronts to the service of countrymen. "The spirit of ‘one nation, one constitution’ has become a reality now. And India is proud of it," he said. He also referred to the introduction of GST, saying it had given life to the dream of ‘one nation, one tax’. India had also achieved ‘one nation, one power grid’ in the energy sector and arrangements had been made for ‘one nation, one mobility card’, the PM said. "Today, India is talking about one nation, one election.
It is good that such a discussion is taking place," he said referring to holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.5) PM Modi hails aspirational India, cites examples of discerning citizens The people of India are no longer happy with merely the proposal for a new railway station, they want to know when the state-of-the-art Vande Bharat Express would come to their area, PM Modi said, highlighting the changing aspirations of people. "People's thinking has changed. Earlier, people were happy with merely a plan to set up a railway station. Now people ask - when will Vande Bharat Express come to my area. People do not want only good railway stations or bus stations, they ask when is a good airport coming," he said.