A Step Towards Development in India: The Historical 74th Independence Day Red Fort Speech

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Prime Minister on the 74th Independence Day has given an 86-minute-long speech addressing the nation. The speech covered topics ranging from sanitation and health to retaliation and Atmanirbhar.

Introduction

Pandemic has taken a toll on all the people. It has left us all grief-stricken. Celebrating Independence Day is like a change to all the pain the people are going through. Not that we do not heed the pain but a diversion was much awaited at this point of breakdown. We had muted Independence Day celebrations due to the pandemic, but all the traditional things were not missed. The Prime Minister’s speech is one amongst them. It is really hard to address the nation at such a crisis time and Modi has done a decent job. He was back with the turban and a wonderful speech.

The speeches were a major part of his campaign and made him a ‘World Leader’. His speeches reach the masses. The Independence Day speech was no less, it was about the way forward, it was about the ‘Atmanirbharta’ and healthy citizens. It was about sanitation and clean drinking water. The speech was all about development and people and how to face COVID. The main themes for the speech were self-reliance and health. The muted celebrations were done in the presence of 4000 people. Proper safety measures were taken and social distancing was maintained.

Analysis

This was the seventh consecutive Independence Day Speech given by the Prime Minister. All the previous speeches were about his achievements in the BJP’s rule over the country. They were about farmers, poverty, and how they are ruling the country. This time also there was mention of all these things but what makes this standout is the number of schemes and developmental projects he put out for the nation. This speech was a solution finder to some and a problem for others. This speech was not to woo the voters, it was for the people.

To make India a self-reliant country and stand in the world head to head with other countries. However, many of the experts remarked that all the schemes were like old wine in a new bottle. These were all present for long in the policy-making system but are only brought to light in the times of crisis. But what makes them different is the strategic priority given to the schemes right now. Nevertheless, these were the main highlights of his speech:

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is like the brainchild of the Prime Minister. It has been one of the central themes of the speech. To make the country self-reliant is important in these crises. PM remarked that being self-reliant is what the pandemic has taught us. The country is not going to wait for opportunities and delays. The nation is on full speed to recover from the pandemic and put the economy back on track. So any company investing in India is most welcome. The goal of the government is to replace China in the global market. PM calls for Atmanirbhar Bharat to be a ‘mantra’ for the 130 crore citizens and not treat it like a common word.

The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan has been launched in May this year as a relief program amid the pandemic and lockdown. It was a part of the economic relief to the COVID affected sectors. PM also calls for Make for the World. He remarked that Make in India means Make for the World. He said, “Today, the world is interconnected and interdependent. So, it is the need of the hour that a vast country like India should increase its contribution to the world economy.”

For many the policy and strategy behind Atmanirbhar Bharat is still unclear. The meaning of the word itself is unclear whether it means self-sufficient or self-reliant. However, PM has made it clear that it is about self-reliance. All this seems perfect on the paper, but what happens when it comes to the implementation part. All the goals are lost with improper implementation. With the economic breakdown in play, it is hard to revive the economy in the first place. This scheme might be a solution but it is far from reality. India is aiming to replace China due to the tension between both countries. Chinese goods have been banned in India, and other countries like the US are trying to do the same. This is being considered as an opportunity by the country. The government wants India to be one of the superpowers.

Even in India Swadeshi goods are being preferred over foreign goods. The people are looking for Make in India tag. As PM remarked the pandemic for sure has made us self reliant, but how far can it get us a place in the world economy is a big question. At the end of the day, the economy is built on employers and workers. These are the two main pillars of any county’s economy. In India, these are the people who were affected the most due to the pandemic and lockdown. It is unpredictable if they would ever dare to take such risks again and work for the nation. They would be striving for individual self-reliance rather than the nation. The task at hand for the Government would be to concentrate on the needs and necessities of these people through the Abhiyan and then make for the world would be easily achievable.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

This mission was launched on Independence Day. It has been a part of the plans since 2017. The pandemic has exposed the deteriorated public health system in the country. The country was not equipped for this level of a pandemic. No one was ready for such a disaster. But the lack of facilities has triggered the situation. There are no health facilities to accommodate the growing number of COVID cases. New hospitals are being built to cater to the same. The availability of the public health system is present in the country but accessibility to the same is absent. Public health facilities are catering to the poor without any fee, but their accessibility is very rare. In that background, National Digital Health Mission has been launched. It is the first of its kind.

It is a starting step towards a universal health system in the country. Through this system, every citizen will be given a unique health identity card. Which will be recording all the information regarding the health of a particular citizen. It is to ensure transparency among all the stakeholders, and also to integrate the private and public health sector. The same will be started by the end of August. Only time can tell us how impactful and useful is this mission. Nothing can be said as of now. But health infrastructure is something the government has to concentrate on considering the unforeseen situations. This mission is a positive step towards the same.

Health has been another main theme of the speech. Health is becoming an important sector to concentrate on, as the government has avoided it for a long time. This time could not be the best to revive it but it is not late to consider it. The pandemic has forced the government to improve its health infrastructure. PM has paid tribute to health workers. They are the warriors who are working day and night for our safety and health. He even mentioned about the three COVID vaccine trials going on at various stages and also told that the road map was ready for the same.

Other Significant Aspects

Some other factors of the speech which were focussed on the development aspect compared to the strategic and political ones are the national infrastructure pipeline which was for the development of infrastructure facilities and in turn, improve the GDP of the country. The other developmental measure was laying optical fibre for 6000 villages in 1000 days. The underlying message in the speech was India is ready to compete and even replace China. The country is fighting against China in all aspects. The economic and political strategies have been put in place to beat the competing nation. This is all in retaliation to the tensions created at LAC in this year. The armies have been at aggressive face-offs for weeks at the borders due to the China army’s intrusions into India’s border. The two countries failed to resolve the dispute.

Now, India has carried that dispute trade and economy. This can be seen through the speech where PM mentions that we have retaliated to both LoC and LAC issues with a fitting reply. PM’s message was clear when he said India is fighting against both “terrorism (Pakistan) and expansionism (China)” for which it needs to be “strong powerful and safe”. This will require major initiatives in the defence sector. Another significant aspect of the speech was the availability of sanitation and clean drinking water, where he mentioned the Jal Jeevan Mission.

A first of its kind mention was about menstrual hygiene. All these aspects signify how important the health of the citizens is for a country. The integral part of the development of a country is strong and healthy citizens. The last but not the least is the mention of elections to be held in Jammu and Kashmir. Where the present government is accused of violating democratic principles, through his speech PM defended his government for upholding democracy.

Conclusion

The speech set up some Big Goals for the country and the government to achieve. The schemes should not be subjected to harsh judgments at this early stage. One of the biggest democracies of the world has been facing an economic crisis since the onset of the pandemic. Hopefully, these schemes and missions should mitigate the crisis and let the country prosper again. On the whole, the Independence Day speech was a mixture of all the emotions. It was more of an economic and political strategy. Above all, it promises something good for the future which can be a way forward after the pandemic.


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