Without naming either Pakistan or China, the Prime Minister asserted that India was fighting both terrorism and expansionism with determination and warned against provoking India.
From the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday delivered a veiled warning to China and Pakistan against any misadventure at the borders, cast self-reliance as a necessary tool to spur growth and announced a raft of initiatives, including the national digital health mission and mass production of Covid-19 vaccine once necessary approvals are in place, to signal the country’s steely resolve to fight battles on multiple fronts.
In his seventh straight independence day address, delivered at the toughest of the times under his leadership, Modi presented a broad outline of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative and pitched for not just ‘Make in India’ but also ‘Make For the World’, with focus on exports. He called for trimming imports and moving up in the value chain to step up exports of finished products instead of mere raw materials.
Elaborating on various reforms undertaken by his government, which resulted in attracting record foreign direct investments of $74 billion in FY20, Modi also pushed for further policy measures that would help realise the dream of ‘Shrestha Bharat’ (best India) in his 86-minute speech. But this economic and political prowess would have humanity at its core, Modi highlighted, possibly hinting at the contrast with China’s beligerent nationalism and clandestine economic policies.
Amid clash with China on the borders, Modi lavished grand tribute on the soldiers for their sacrifice. “The world saw in Ladakh what our brave soldiers, the country can do for this resolve (to maintain our sovereignty). From the Red Fort, I salute all those brave soldiers who have staked their lives for the motherland,” he said.
Without naming either Pakistan or China, the Prime Minister asserted that India was fighting both terrorism and expansionism with determination and warned against provoking India. “From LoC (Line of Control) to LAC (Line of Actual Control), anyone who casts an eye on the sovereignty of the country, the armed forces have responded in the language they understand,” he said, in the presence of a large number of dignitaries, including foreign diplomats.
Hinting at bolstering cooperation with like-minded nations beyond the immediate neighbourhood, the Prime Minister said that today neighbours are not only those with whom India shares its geographical boundaries but also those with whom “our hearts meet”.
Days after the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Modi said the centuries-old issue has been resolved peacefully. “The restraint and wise manner in which people of the country have behaved is unprecedented and will inspire us in the future,” he said.
The Prime Minister also underscored his government’s commitment to holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the ongoing delimitation exercise is over. He asserted that a new era of development has been ushered in the union territory after Article 370 was abolished a year ago.
At a time of heightened battle against the pandemic, Modi also hailed ‘corona warriors’, including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and sanitation workers, exuding confidence over the country’s decisive victory over the Covid-19 virus.