Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his vision for a "New India" in his Independence Day speech from Delhi's iconic Red Fort today, pledging to build it by 2022, when independent India turns 75. Early in his speech, his shortest in four years at 54 minutes, PM Modi mourned the tragic death of children at a Gorakhpur hospital in the past week and for the lives lost in floods.
1. "People of India stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected due to natural disasters and the great tragedy in Uttar Pradesh, where little, innocent children died in a hospital," PM Modi said. Over 70 children have died in the last one week at the hospital in UP's Gorakhpur amid a deadly outbreak of encephalitis.
2. The Prime Minister talked of a "new India, one that leaves behind a 'Chalta Hai' We have to think of 'Badal Sakta Hai.' This attitude will help us as a nation." The millennials turn 18 next year, PM Modi said, inviting India's young to "take this opportunity to shape the future of the nation and participate in India's development."
3. "I invoke Team India to run for a New India by 2022. By then the poor shall have concrete houses, the farmer shall double his income, youths and women will get ample opportunities, an India free of casteism, terrorism, corruption," the Prime Minister said.
4. PM Modi reached out to the young in violence-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, inviting those wielding guns to "join the mainstream". His government, the Prime Minister said, was determined to restore to Kashmir its status of "heaven on earth," stating, "Bullets or abuses won't solve Kashmir's problem... change can be brought only by embracing Kashmiris."
5. But, he also emphasised, "There is no question of being soft on terrorism or terrorists."
6. He used the address to send out another strong message on recent mob attacks by cow vigilantes, saying, "violence in the name of faith is unacceptable." The Prime Minister said, "India is about peace, unity and amity," the PM said, stressing that they had no place in the new India.
7. Unlike last year, PM Modi made no direct reference to Pakistan, or to the border row with China, but said, "security is our top priority and India can defend itself from anyone who seeks to act against our country."
8. He also presented a report card of his government's achievements and initiatives like demonetisation which, the Prime Minister said, had brought back R3 lakh crore into the banking system. His war against black money and corruption, PM Modi said, will intensify.
9. The Prime Minister had promised a short speech this year after, he quipped on his monthly radio programme last month, he received complaints that his speeches from Red Fort were too long. It was his shortest in four years; last year he spoke for 94 minutes. PM Modi had also sought suggestions for today's speech and over 8,000 people wrote in.
10. There is tight security in the national capital today with about 70,000 police personnel deployed across Delhi. There is unprecedented ground-to- air security cover, with 9,100 cops on duty in and around the Red Fort.