Prime Minister Narendra Modi ufurls tricolour from Red Fort on 68th Indian Independence Day.
It was exactly a year ago, when a chief minister had challenged then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his address in Gujarat would draw as much attention as the PM’s Red Fort speech.
“When we unfurl the tricolour, the message will also go to Lal Quila. Nation will want to know what was said there and what is said here (in Bhuj),” Modi had said addressing a gathering of youth at Bhuj in Kutch district on August 15, 2013.
He had tore into the speech of Dr Singh and said, “On one hand there will be a series of promises, whereas on the other there will be the account of work done. On one side there will be despair (nirasha) and on the other side hope (asha).”
The chief minister was Narendra Modi.
The Lal Quila dream of Narendra Modi was openly expressed during an election campaign for Lok Sabha in Chhatisgarh on September 7, 2013. A replica of red fort awaited Modi in Chhatisgarh from where he delivered his campaign address.
Media and his critics had made a bitter mockery of Modi for the symbolism was pretty clear. It was also because Modi had declared in his subsequent speeches that he did not dream of becoming a Prime Minister. Then what was a replica of Red Fort doing at his address venue?
“They have created a fake Red Fort in Chhattisgarh. They might also create a fake RCR (PM’s residence in Delhi) to fulfill their aspirations,” senior Congress leader Kamal Nath had said.
Just eight months after that incidence, the chief minister Modi became Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Although the Congress party had vowed to finish his Lal Quila dreams. But today, he stands at the aisle of the fort unfurling the tricolor.
Modi is the first PM born in free India.
He arrived at the Red Fort in his traditional attire chosen for himself for the occasion of Independence Day – White Kurta Churidaar with Saffron Pagdi.
The changes were visible the moment he arrived at the Red Fort. There was no bullet proof shield in front of the PM. And then, much to the delight of the people of the country, he started speaking extempore.
His opening line was: “Aap sabhi ko desh ke pradhan sevak ki ore se azadhi ki hardik shubhkamnayein.” (Greeting from the chief servant of the country to the people on Independence Day.)
The prime minister credited the farmers, labourers, women, youth, seers, and scientists of the country for its making. He said that not only the subsequent governments were responsible for the building of the nation; it was also the united opposition that helped in the development of the nation.
He once again reiterated on the need of working together. We won’t rule with the sheer brute strength of majority, he said, adding that he wants to take the nation forward with decisions that are unanimous.
Pointing towards the work culture inside the government, the prime minister said that the fissures inside the government departments surprised him. He said that government is not an assembled entity but an organic entity.
“Newspapers & TV channels report that now offices open on time & bureaucrats are now coming to office on time. When I read that with the new government officers came on time I was not happy- should officers coming on time be news?
There is immense skill in the people who are in the government. Chaprasi se lekar Cabinet Secy tak har koi samarthvaan hain, main uss shakti ko badhana chahta hoon. I want to integrate their strengths. I promise to you that I will harness that strength, that competence.”
It was an energetic speech where the prime minister asked the people of the country and the bureaucrats to shun the attitude of “mera kya” and “mujhe kya” (what is in this for me, why should I bother). “Let us rise above this,” the prime minister exhorted.
Speaking on the most sensitive issue of violence against women and gender sensitization, the prime minister said that it was time parents questiond sons and their actions. He asked the parents to take responsibility of their sons’ misdeeds.
“After incidents of rape, people turn pycho-analysts. As parents you ask daughters where do you go? Why? Why not ask sons these questions? Rapists are somebody’s sons too… I ask parents of errant boys, did you ever talk to your sons before he took this path?” he questioned.
On the issue of violence and extremism, he had similar question for parents: “Maoists, terrorists…these are sons of parents right? Did you try to question and control your sons like your daughters? Law will take its course, but every parent must take responsibility to bring back our sons who deviated from right path.”
He then addressed the youth indulging into violence saying that the path of violence hasn’t given us anything. “Kandhey par bandook ki jagah hal rakho, to dharti lehlahayegi,” he said.
He talked about a moratorium of ten years for curbing the extreme violence in the country. He also drew people’s attention towards the skewed sex ratio in the country.
“This is not done by God, but doctors. I plead to them, don’t kill daughters in wombs for money. People think only sons take care of aged parents. I have seen families where five sons send their parents away into old age homs, but one daughter sacrifices her life for them,” he said.
“Come let us applaud the women sportspersons who brought us laurels in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games. 29 girls have made us proud at the recent Common Wealth Games. Girls too have contributed to make country proud,” headed.
The prime minister unveiled the ambitious scheme to bring banking services to every Indian. The Jan Dhan Yojana will aim to open bank accounts for all, link poorest of the poor with banking. It will provide an insurance of Rs 1 lakh too.
Skill Development Mission was next to be announced. Crores of Indians will be given technological skills, entrepreneurial skills. “I want to prepare a country of youth with skills that will build the country, and change the world,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister then coined the new mantra for boosting the manufacturing sector in India. “I want to tell the world, come, make-in-India,” he announced, inviting foreign investment in manufacturing chemicals, automobiles, agro-businesses, paper, coffee, submarines and more. “We have skills, we have strength, we have people. Our dream should be that products used across the world should be made-in-India,” he said.
He gave another mantra for the manufacturing sector of “zero defect, zero effect” which means the manufactured goods should have zero defect and it must have zero effect on the environment of the country.
The prime minister then talked about “digital India”. “People used to think India is a country of black magic & snake charmers. But our IT professionals changed the country’s image. I say now it is time for ‘Digital India’ not elite concept. Use broadband for eduction for rural areas, telemedicine for the poor,” he said.
PM Narendra Modi then touched the subject of cleanliness and toilets in the country. He urged the poeple to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019 with total cleanliness.
The prime minister touched many emotions when he said, “What kind of PM talks about toilets from the Red Fort? It’s a shame that our women have to wait for darkness to go out in the open to defecate. There will be criticism that I am talking about toilets & from Red Fort. But I am from a poor family, dignity for poor is important.”
He called the corporate sectors to spend a considerable amount of their CSR spending on building separate toilets for girls and boys in schools. He also said that a good amount pf budget spending will go for this purpose.
He also announced Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana where he asked parliamentarians to choose a small village each, fix parameters & make it a model village.
“October 11th is Jaiprakash Narayan jayanti, I will present the blue print of Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana,” the prime minister said.
PM Modi announced scrapping of the Planning Commission of India. A new institution will be set up in its place, with “creative thinking on public-private partnerships, optimum utilisation of resources, giving direction to state governments, an organisation that will strengthen federalism and more” according to the prime minister.
The prime minister gave a final plea to work together. Saying that the united India fought for the freedom struggle, he urged the countrymen to fight poverty unanimously. Adding the foreign angle to his plea, the prime minister said that the SAARC nations should come together to fight the menace of poverty. “By working together, we SAARC nations can change world’s outlook towards us,” he added.
He concluded his speech by promising hard work from his side. “I want to tell you dear brothers and sisters that if you work 12 hours, I will work 13 hours. I am your Pradhan Sevak,” he said.
The speech came to an end with the Modi-style ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ chants.
The dreams that prime minister saw and talked about were very simple, but they are very basic to the requirements of the Indian. His statesman style full of energy speech has once again raised hope that the country will do better under his leadership.