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New Delhi, August 15, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that, in the inter-connected and inter-dependent world, it was time for India to play an important role in the global economy, for which it had to become self-reliant.
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort here on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, Modi said that, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 130 crore Indians had resolved to become self-reliant. "Aatmanirbhar Bharat is on the mind of India," he said.
"I am confident of the abilities, confidence and potential of my fellow Indians. Once we decide to do something, we do not rest till we achieve that goal," he said.
Modi said that, from agriculture, space to healthcare, India is taking several steps to build Atmanirbhar Bharat.
"I am confident that measures, like, opening up the space sector will generate many new employment opportunities for our youth and provide further avenues to enhance their skills and potential," he said.
He pointed out how, only a few months ago, India used to import N-95 masks, PPE kits and ventilators from abroad. But it not only made these products during the pandemic but was also able to export them all over the world, he said.
"Apart from ‘Make in India’, we must also embrace the mantra of ‘Make for World’," he said.
Modi said the national pipeline project worth Rs 10 lakh crore would boost the country's overall infrastructure projects.
"We will now focus on multi-modal connectivity infrastructure. We can't work in silos anymore; we need to focus on comprehensive and integrated infrastructure. About 7,000 projects of different sectors have also been identified. It will bring a new revolution in infrastructure sector.
"How long will the raw material from our country become a finished product and return to India. There was a time when our agricultural system was very backward. The biggest concern then was how to feed the countrymen. Today, we can feed not only India but many countries of the world. Self-reliant India not only means reduction of imports, but also to increase our skills and our creativity," he said.
The Prime Minister said the whole world had been noticing the reforms being pursued in India. "As a result, the FDI inflow has broken all records. India witnessed 18% jump in FDI even during the COVID pandemic," he said.
He went on to detail the progress made on various initiatives taken by the government. "Who could have imagined that lakhs of crores of rupees would be directly transferred in the Jan Dhan accounts of the poor in the country? Who could have thought that such a big change would happen in the APMC Act for the benefit of farmers? One Nation-One Ration Card, One Nation - One Tax, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and Merger of Banks is the reality of the country today.
"We have worked for women's empowerment- Navy and Air Force are taking women in combat, women are now leaders, and we abolished triple talaq, got sanitary pads to women for just 1 rupee.
"My dear countrymen, we have been told here - Samarthyamool Swatantryam, Shrammulam Vaibhavam. The strength of a society, the freedom of any nation is its power, and the source of its prosperity and progress is its labor force.
"Seven crore poor families were given free gas cylinders, more than 80 crore people were provided free food with or without ration cards, about 90 thousand crores were directly transferred to bank accounts. Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan has also been started to provide employment to poor in their villages.
"The campaign for Vocal for Local, Re-Skill and Up-Skill will bring about a self-reliant economy in the lives of people living below the poverty line," he said.
Modi said that many regions of the country had lagged behind in terms of development. He said 110 such aspirational districts had been chosen and special efforts were being made there so that the people get better education, health facilities and employment opportunities.
"Self-reliant India has an important priority - self-sufficient agriculture and self-reliant farmers. To provide modern infrastructure to the farmers of the country, a few days ago 'Agriculture Infrastructure Fund' of Rs 1 lakh crore has been created," he said.
"From this same Red Fort, last year, I announced the mission of Jal Jeevan. Today, under this mission, every day more than one lakh houses are getting water connection.
"Professionals emanating from the middle class make their mark not only in India but in the whole world. The middle class needs opportunity, the middle class needs freedom from government interference," he said.
"This is also the first time when the EMI of a home loan for your home is getting a rebate of up to 6 lakh rupees during the payment period. Just last year, a fund of 25 thousand crore rupees has been established to complete thousands of incomplete houses," he said.
"Education of the country has great importance in building self-reliant India, in building modern India, in building new India, in building prosperous India. With this thinking, the country has got a new National Education Policy," he said.
Modi said that, during the coronavirus pandemic, the country had seen the role of the Digital India campaign.
"Just last month, almost 3 lakh crore rupees have been transacted from BHIM UPI alone.
"Before 2014, only five dozen panchayats in the country were connected with optical fiber. In the last five years, 1.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country have been connected with optical fiber. All 6 lakh villages in the country will be connected with optical fiber within the coming 1000 days," he said.
The Prime Minister said that whenever there was an opportunity for women power in India, they had brought laurels to the country and strengthened it. He pointed out that women were today working not only in underground coal mines but also flying fighter planes.
"Of the 40 crore Jan Dhan accounts opened in the country, about 22 crore accounts are of women only. At the time of Corona, in April-May-June, about thirty thousand crores of rupees have been directly transferred to the accounts of women in these three months.
"When corona started, there was only one lab for corona testing in our country. Today there are more than 1,400 labs in the country.
"Another very big campaign is going to start in the country from today. This is the National Digital Health Mission. Every Indian will be given a health ID. National Digital Health Mission will bring a new revolution in India's health sector. All your tests, every disease, which doctor gave you which medicine, when, what were your reports, all these information will be contained in this one health ID.
"Today, not one, not two, three vaccines of coranavirus are currently under testing phase in India. As soon as the green signal is received from the scientists, the country's preparation is also ready for mass production of those vaccines," he said.
Modi said this year marked the beginning of a new development journey for Jammu and Kashmir.
"This year is the year of rights for women and Dalits in Jammu and Kashmir! It is also a year of the dignified life of refugees in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a matter of pride for all of us that the representatives of the local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir are pushing forward a new era of development with activism and sensitivity," he said.
" By making Ladakh a Union Territory last year, the old demand of its people has been met. Ladakh, situated in the heights of the Himalayas, is moving forward today to touch new heights of development. Just as Sikkim has made its mark as an Organic State, in the coming days, Ladakh will make its identity as a carbon-neutral region," he said.
He said a special campaign with a holistic approach to reduce pollution in 100 selected cities of the country is also being worked on.
"India is fully sensitive to the preservation and promotion of its biodiversity. In the recent past, the tiger population has increased at a rapid pace in the country! Now a Project Lion for our Asiatic lions is also going to be started in the country. Similarly, Project Dolphin will also be launched," he said.
Referring to the borders, Modi said, "From the LOC to the LAC, whoever has raised eyes on the sovereignty of the country, the country, the army of the country has responded in the same language. Respect for India's sovereignty is supreme for us. What our brave soldiers can do for this resolution, what the country can do, the world has seen this in Ladakh."
"A quarter of the world's population lives in South Asia. We can create untold possibilities of development and prosperity of such a large population with cooperation and participation. All the leaders of the countries of the region have an important responsibility towards the development and progress of this large mass group.
"Our border and coastal infrastructure also have a huge role in the security of the country. Be it the Himalayan peaks or the islands of the Indian Ocean, today there is an unprecedented expansion of road and internet connectivity in the country, expanding rapidly.
"There are more than 1,300 islands in our country. In view of their geographical location, considering their importance in the development of the country, work is underway to start new development schemes in some of these selected islands. After Andaman and Nicobar islands, in the next 1,000 days, Lakshadweep will also be connected with submarine optical fiber cable," he said.
Modi said the expansion of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) would be ensured in 173 broder and coastal districts of the country.
"Under this campaign, special training will be given to about 1 lakh new NCC Cadets. In this also, about one-third of the daughters will be given this special training," he said.
"Our Policies, Our Process, Our Products, everything should be best, Must be best. Only then will we be able to realize the vision of Ek Bharat-Shresth Bharat," he said.
"The middle class will be the biggest beneficiaries of 'Ease of Living'; from cheap internet to economical air tickets, highways to i-ways, and from affordable housing to tax reduction -- all these measures will empower the middle-class people of the country," he said.
At the outset of his speech, Modi paid tributes to those leading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance personnel, sanitation workers, policemen, service personnel and others who are working round the clock.
He also expressed grief over the loss of lives in various parts of the country due to natural calamities, and reassured the people of full support in this hour of need.
Earlier, Modi first paid a visit to Rajghat where he paid tributes at the "samadhi" of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.
On his arrival this morning at the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort, the Prime Minister was received by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.
The Defence Secretary introduced the General Officer Commanding (GoC), Delhi Area, Lieutenant Gen Vijay Kumar Mishra to the Prime Minister. The GoC Delhi Area then conducted the Prime Minister to the Saluting Base where a combined Inter-Services and Police Guards presented a general salute to him. Thereafter, the Prime Minister inspected the Guard of Honour.
The Guard of Honour contingent for the Prime Minister consisted of one officer and 24 men each from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Delhi Police. The Guard of Honour was positioned directly in front of the National Flag across the moat below the ramparts.
This year, Army being the coordinating Service, the Guard of Honour was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gaurav S Yewalkar. Army Contingent in the Prime Minister’s Guard was commanded by Major Palvinder Grewal, the Navy contingent by Lieutenant Commander K V R Reddy, while Squadron Leader Vikas Kumar led the Air Force contingent and the Delhi Police contingent was led by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Jitender Kumar Meena.
After inspecting the Guard of Honour, Modi proceeded to the ramparts of the Red Fort where he was greeted by Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria. The GoC Delhi area conducted the Prime Minister to the dais on the rampart to unfurl the National Flag.
The unfurling of the tri-colour synchronised with the 21-gun salute fired by the gunners of the elite 2233 Field Battery (Ceremonial).
This was followed by Modi's address to the nation -- his seventh as Prime Minister from the ramparts of the iconic fort.
After the speech, NCC cadets sang the national anthem and all present joined them.
Finally, Modi released multi-coloured balloons in the air, marking the end of the ceremony.