Modi’s Independence Day address

Amid a deepening economic gloom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on 73rd Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort, focussed on his government’s recent moves to abrogate special status to Jammu and Kashmir and to bring in a law banning instant triple talaq. “Within two weeks of assuming power, we have dedicated ourselves in fulfilling the aspirations of people on all fronts,” he said. “From the Red Fort, I can say with pride that every Indian can say ‘One Nation, One Constitution’. Sardar Patel’s dream of one Bharat has been realised,” Modi said.

At 92 minutes, it was also the second-longest I-Day address to be delivered by any PM, only four-minutes short of the longest ever PM speech on August 15 that he had delivered in 2016.

PM Modi chose the occasion to dwell upon a host of issues, including a five-year road-map of his government’s ongoing term. He urged people to weed out corruption while highlighting the fact that the Union government, with the continuous help of technology, is taking various steps to get rid of it. “My dear countrymen, you know it very well that corruption and nepotism have hurt our country beyond imagination and they have infiltrated our lives like termites. We are trying continuously to throw them out,” Modi said.

In a clear message to Pakistan, the PM said, “India will keep on fighting decisively against those spreading terrorism. Any incident of terrorism in any part of the world is a war against humanity.” He greeted the people of Afghanistan on the eve of their Independence Day. “Four days later, our neighbour Afghanistan will celebrate its Independence and it will be its 100th anniversary of freedom. I am greeting Afghanistan on this occasion,” he said from Red Fort.

Reaffirming his commitment to get piped water to all households, the PM said all efforts will be made to conserve water and rejuvenate water sources.

In an effort to shore up the confidence of entrepreneurs, he described them as wealth creators and an asset to the country. “Those who are making efforts to create wealth, according to me, they themselves are an asset to the nation and must be empowered,” he said, adding that “those who create wealth for the country, those who contribute in the nation’s wealth creation are all serving the country. We should not doubt our wealth creators.”

During his speech, Modi also announced that the country will now have a Chief Of Defence Staff to bring synergy in functioning of the Army, Navy and Air Force, a proposal which was first mooted after the Kargil conflict in 1999.

As head of the three services, the CDS will ensure synergy and provide effective leadership to the armed forces in dealing with security challenges, PM said.

Apart from increasing coordination between the Army, Navy or Air Force, the CDS will also act as a single-point military adviser to the prime minister and defence minister on key defence and strategic issues. A number of western countries have tri-services chiefs.

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