June 02 2020
PM’s speech on 67th Independence Day
14 August 2013

My dear fellow citizens, Brothers, sisters and dear children, I greet you all on this Independence Day.

Today is certainly a day of joy for us. But on this celebration of independence we also feel pain in our hearts that our brothers and sisters in Uttarakhand had to face devastation about two months back. Our deepest sympathies are with all the families that suffered loss of life or property. I want to assure the people of Uttarakhand today that the whole country stands with them in this moment of crisis. Our government is working with all the resources at its command to rehabilitate those whose houses have been destroyed and rebuild damaged infrastructure.

Our army, paramilitary forces and numerous officers and staff of the Central and State governments worked in difficult conditions in partnership with the common people to perform an outstanding task in providing relief to those who were stranded. We especially pay homage to the officers and men of the Air Force, ITBP and NDRF who sacrificed their lives to save others.

We are also deeply pained that we lost the submarine, INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives. The accident is all the more painful because the Navy had recently achieved two major successes in the form of its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant and the aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.
We pay homage to the brave hearts we have lost. We also congratulate the Navy on its successes.

Brothers and Sisters,

We achieved independence in 1947 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. If we look at our subsequent journey, we would find that our country has seen major changes every ten years.

In the decade beginning 1950, India took its first steps as a democratic republic under the leadership of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. We established institutions like the Atomic Energy Commission, Planning Commission and Election Commission, which went on to make a major contribution to the processes of nation building in later years. The first general elections were conducted and a beginning was made towards the formulation of the First Five Year Plan for socio-economic development of the country.

In the sixties, Pandit Nehru set up new industries and factories, implemented new irrigation projects and opened new universities. By laying emphasis on the role of science and technology in nation building he started the work of transforming this ancient country into a modern nation.

In the seventies, Indiraji boosted our confidence as a nation. During this period, we launched our first satellite in space. The Green Revolution enabled us to be self sufficient in food grains for the first time.

In the next decade, Rajiv Gandhi ji set into motion the process of technological and economic modernisation. The foundation for the progress we later made in the area of information technology was laid during this period. The importance of Panchayati Raj Institutions was emphasized and this later resulted in amendments to our Constitutions for strengthening and empowering these institutions.

In the year 1991, under the leadership of Shri Narsimha Rao, we successfully negotiated a major economic crisis and embraced reforms for strengthening our economy. These reforms were opposed by many political parties at that time.

But the reforms were in national interest and were therefore continued by all governments that came to power subsequently. Since then, the reform process has continually moved forward.

I believe that the last decade has also been a decade of major changes in the history of our nation. In no other decade has our economic development increased as much as in this decade. Democratic forces have been strengthened and many sections of our society have joined the mainstream of development for the first time.

The common man has been given new rights which have led to his social and economic empowerment.

Brothers and Sisters,

The first UPA government came to power in May 2004. Ever since, we have worked with sincerity and honesty to build a progressive and modern India.

We have envisioned a prosperous India. An India which has got rid of centuries old burden of poverty, hunger and disease. Where the light of education has driven away the darkness of ignorance and superstition.

Where there is social equality and all citizens enjoy equal economic opportunity. Where no section of the society faces injustice and exploitation.

We have dreamt of an India where the youth get employment opportunities that enable them to contribute to the noble endeavour of nation building.

We have strived for India’s voice to be heard loud and clear at the international level. We have strived to build a nation that is looked at with respect and honour by the whole world.

We have taken many measures to realise these dreams. But the journey is long and a large distance still remains to be travelled.

Brothers and Sisters,

We have recently issued an Ordinance towards a Food Security law. The Food Security Bill is now before Parliament and we hope it will be passed shortly. This law will benefit 75 per cent of our rural population and half of our urban population. Under the law, about 81 crore Indians would be entitled to receive rice at 3 Rupees per kg, wheat at 2 Rupees per kg and coarse grains at 1 Rupee per kg. This is the largest effort of its kind in the whole world.

We have been able to implement this law only because of the hard work of our farmers. Our food-grain production reached a record level of 25.9 crore ton in 2011-12.

Without rapid agricultural growth, we cannot achieve our goal of making our villages prosperous. We have constantly endeavoured to increase production and to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce. In the last nine years, support prices for various crops have been enhanced as never before. The support prices for wheat and paddy have been more than doubled. Many states which faced shortages of food-grains earlier are now producing more than what they require for themselves.

The average annual rate of agricultural growth in the 11th Plan was 3.6, which is more than both the 9th and 10th Plan levels.

We now see clear indications of enhanced economic prosperity in our rural areas. In the period from 2004 to 2011, rural per-capita consumption has increased four times faster than earlier.

Rural wages have also increased much faster in this period. MNREGA provides employment to crores of people in rural areas.

Measuring poverty is a difficult task. There are diverse views about what constitutes poverty. But whatever definition we may adopt, it cannot be denied that the pace of reduction in poverty has increased after 2004.

Many states which had been considered backward for a long time, with some of them being called Bimaru, are now progressing rapidly.

We have enacted the Right to Education Act to provide every child in the country the opportunity for education. Almost all our children are today being imparted education in primary schools.

The number of young men and women going to college has more than doubled in the last 9 years.

We have implemented new schemes for scholarships on a large scale to enable poor
children and those belonging to the weaker sections to access opportunities for education. Today, the Central government provides scholarships to more than 2 crore children.

Many new institutions have been opened in the area of higher education. For example, 8 new IITs, 7 New IIMs, 16 new Central universities and 10 new NITs. New institutions have also been opened to boost scientific research. Steps have been taken to attract students to the study of science and encourage Indian scientists working abroad to return to India.

However, much still remains to be done for reforming our education system. Many of our schools still lack drinking water facilities, toilets and other necessary infrastructure. There is a need to improve the quality of education. To achieve this, it is necessary to lay more emphasis on training of teachers.

About 11 crore children are being provided afternoon meals every day in schools under the Mid-day Meal Scheme. This programme is of immense benefit for both education and nutrition of children. However, it is necessary to improve its implementation. The tragedy that happened in Bihar some days back should not be repeated anywhere in the country.

We had launched the National Rural Health Mission in 2005. The Mission has started showing good results. Both Maternal Maternity and Infant Mortality rates have come down sharply. A much larger proportion of children is now born in hospitals. There has also been a large increase in the proportion of children being inoculated.

No case of polio has been detected in the country in the last two years. We have been able to eradicate a disease which used to cause disability to lakhs of people.

The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, which provides free in-patient treatment in hospitals to our poor brothers and sisters, now covers about 3.5 crore families.
We have implemented the Health Mission in urban areas also. This will result in both expansion and improvement of health services in such areas.

For ensuring better safety and security for women, we have strengthened the law dealing with offences against women.

There has been good progress in the last 9 years in the infrastructure sector also, covering areas such as Roads, Railways, Power, Civil Aviation, Ports and
Telecommunications. About 2 lakh km of new roads have been constructed for connecting villages under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. More than 37,000 km of new highways have been built, facilitating travel and trade. More than 40 airports have been built or upgraded. In 2004, only 7 per cent of the people had telephone connections.

Today, 73 per cent enjoy this facility. In rural areas, this figure has gone up from 2 to 40. There has been a record addition to our capacity for electricity generation.



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