Brought NE closer to Delhi: PM

NEW DELHI, AUG 15 (IANS/AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/15/2018 12:00:38 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said efforts made by his government have brought the people of North East India closer to Delhi.

“Four years ago, people from North East used to feel Delhi is far away. In the past four years, we have brought the northeast closer to Delhi,” he said in his address to the nation from the Red Fort here on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 72nd Independence Day, his fifth speech after the NDA came to power in 2014, Modi said people were ignoring news about this region earlier.

“Now, when we read about the North East in the papers, we see villages getting electricity, highways and railways being constructed. New job opportunities have been created and educational institutes are coming up,” he said.

Modi also spoke about the achievements of the region in sports, construction and infrastructure and business.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also presented a picture of “rising” India under his government and contrasted it with what he termed as “policy paralysis” during the UPA rule, making a pitch for retaining power in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

On the occasion, Modi also announced the launch date of his signature healthcare scheme for 50 crore Indians, permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces and a plan to send Indian astronauts into space by 2022.

In the nearly 80-minute speech, Modi devoted much of the time in presenting the report card of his government and also touched on a host of burning issues including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, crime against women, legislation on instant triple talaq, state of the economy and the farm sector.

“When 125 crore people move towards achieving a goal, there is nothing that cannot happen. In 2014, the people of the country did not just stop at forming the government. They moved together towards nation-building and are continuing to do so,” he said. The prime minister also talked about how India “moved” on the path of “reform, perform and transform” from the time of “policy paralysis” and “corruption” under the UPA rule.

Accused by the opposition of running a pro-business and pro-rich dispensation, Modi dwelt at length about his government’s initiatives to improve the lives of the poor and the backward sections and claimed that five crore people have been lifted out of poverty in the last two years.

Modi said negative reports about India, delayed reforms, fragile economy and red tape were the terms often used for the country under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), while it is now being looked at as a multi-trillion dollar economy, offering red carpet welcome to investors.

“India was earlier a sleeping elephant which has woken up now and started running,” said Modi, who was wearing a saffron-and-red, Rajasthani-style turban.

On Kashmir, Modi said, “We will move forward by embracing people and not with bullet and abuse (Goli and Gaali).”

Quoting Tamil nationalist icon Subramania Bharti, Modi said in Tamil, “India will show the path to the world.”

“I am restless, I am agitated and I am also impatient for my country to lead the fourth industrial revolution, the revolution that is based on knowledge, the revolution which will be led by those who have IT skills. I am impatient for my country to lead it,” he said.

One of the big announcements Modi made was the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme, described as the world’s largest healthcare measure, on September 25, the birth anniversary of Hindutva icon Deen Dayal Upadhyay. He said the scheme will initially cover nearly 50 crore people from 10 crore families.

He also announced permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces like men. “Women officers inducted into the short service commission (SSC) will get opportunity for permanent commission like their male counterparts,” the prime minister said.

He did not elaborate whether it will be applicable to women in combat roles or in non-combat fields such as IT, military police, engineering, etc.

Referring to recent incidents of rape, Modi said the law is supreme, and asserted that the society must be free from this “demonic” mindset. He hailed a recent judgement by a fast-track court in Madhya Pradesh to hang a rape convict. He made no specific mention of recent cases of lynching -- another hot button topic being debated in the country.

Modi also highlighted his government’s efforts to protect the interests of Dalits and backward classes -- the two communities being wooed by the ruling BJP ahead of the crucial elections -- and said the recent Parliament session was totally dedicated to social justice.

He said by 2022, India will send a “son or daughter” to the space with the national flag in hand.

Modi ended his speech with a call for housing, power, cooking gas, sanitation, health, connectivity and water for all and said his government is working with this mantra.



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