Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the Red Fort in New Delhi on the occasion of Independence Day. With emphasis on Jammu and Kashmir and plans for the country’s growth, he made some key announcements in the 93-minute speech.
Here are some highlights:
- On Article 370: The Indian Prime Minister hit out at the critics of the Indian government who have opposed the revocation of Article 370 saying, “If this was so important and life-changing, why was this Article not made permanent?” He said that the old arrangement had encouraged corruption and nepotism. Emphasising the government’s policy of India First, the Prime Minister said that the Indian government wanted to serve Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- In a major announcement, Modi said that a Chief of Defence Staff would be appointed to be the head of the three services. "Our forces are India's pride. To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort. India will have a Chief of Defence Staff - CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective," he said. A Chief of Defence Staff to oversee the military was first recommended by a committee set up after the Kargil war of 1999. It had called for a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister.
- Prime Minister Modi said that the government would make a massive investment of INR 100 lakh crore to develop modern infrastructure, which would help double the size of the economy to USD 5 trillion in the next five years, adding that political stability would provide a unique opportunity for India to grow.
- He announced the creation of a new ministry for Jal Shakti to encourage water conservation and said that steps towards conservation must be taken at the grassroot level. The Prime Minister also said it was unfortunate that many people still lacked access to water and said that work on the Jal Jeevan Mission will continue to progress to provide water to every household.
- He also expressed concern over India’s population explosion and said that family planning is true patriotism. "Population explosion will cause many problems for our future generations. We have to be concerned about population explosion. The centre as well as state governments should launch schemes to tackle it," he said.
- He emphasised the need to boost exports and make local Indian products attractive to encourage the setting up of more export hubs.
- He emphasised the importance of the “Made in India” scheme saying, “Our priority should be a 'Made in India' product. Can we think of consuming local products, improving rural economy and the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sector?”
- He also said that a beginning to rid India of single use plastics would be made from October 2, Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti.