Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday vowed to lift millions out of poverty and called for a solemn pledge to turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years. Addressing the nation from the Red Fort to mark the completion of 75 years of independence, Modi called on citizens to “aim big” and adopt “panch pran” (five resolves): To turn India into a developed country; remove every trace of bondage; take pride in its heritage, unity and integrity; and fulfil their duties to achieve the dreams of freedom fighters.
Wearing a traditional kurta and churidar paired with a blue jacket and a white turban with tricolour stripes, Modi largely dwelt on the ideas for the future. The speech was notable for the absence of new scheme launches or announcements that have been a regular feature in past speeches.
“We must turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years,” he said. “It’s a big resolution, and we should work towards it with all our might.”
That, however, could be a tall order, as according to the World Bank’s classification, India is a lower-middle income economy, or a country with a gross national per capita income of between $1,086 and $4,255. High income countries, like the US and those in Europe and Asia, have a per capita income of $13,205 or more. Even China, for all its growing economic might, isn’t a developed nation yet.
Several experts expect India, the world’s sixth-largest and fastest-growing economy, to turn into the third-biggest by 2050, trailing only the US and China. However, its per capita income, currently about $2,100, may still lag that of many others.
The Prime Minister unfurled the national flag amid a 21-gun salute by the locally-developed howitzer gun, ATAGS, a first for any indigenous gun at Red Fort, reflecting the government’s Make-in-India push.
Staying on his favourite theme, he said the country is making many efforts to ensure it was self-reliant – from manufacturing mobile phones to ending the import of toys. “I especially salute the seven and eight-year-olds who turned their back on foreign toys and have embraced only Indian toys,” he said.
“A self-reliant India or ‘aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is the responsibility of every citizen, every government, and every unit of society. I invite the private sector to ensure that ‘made-in-India’ products are spread globally,” he said, adding achieving ethanol blending ahead of schedule was one step towards achieving energy security and self-reliance.
In his address, the prime minister launched a frontal assault on nepotism and corruption and said harsh steps will be taken against those who have looted the nation. “Many who has stolen national wealth are already in jail and many more such people will be despatched there,” he said.
“Help me end this pernicious practice,” Modi said, adding corruption hollowed out India like termites. He also spoke out against nepotism (“chacha-bhatija” culture) not only in the political sphere, but in all walks of life, where families and extended families capture positions and posts. He also highlighted that over `2 trillion, which would have gone in wrong hands earlier, has now been invested in the country’s development using direct benefits transfer.
Modi said respect for women is an important pillar for India’s growth and stressed the need to extend support to ‘Nari Shakti’. He said it is important that in speech and conduct, “we do nothing that lowers the dignity of women”.
In his ninth consecutive I-day address, also talked about competition between states, saying they should move from “cooperative federalism” to “cooperative competitive federalism” in the future. This was a way to signal states to perform and provide for the people.
Modi stressed all-round development of the technology sector – from 5G to push for electronic chips, laying of optical fibre cable network across villages and enabling digital entrepreneurship in villages – to make the present decade as “techade” for India. Signalling his government’s renewed focus on spurring innovation, he coined the slogan “Jai Anusandhan”.