I-Day speech

From inflation to terrorism, PM touches on a wide range of topics on I-Day

Modi-I-day-address Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks from the rampart of the Red Fort | AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said his government had managed not only to change people's mindsets towards state-run enterprises but also helped companies like Air India, BSNL and Shipping Corp to make operational profits.

"Air India was notorious for incurring losses. My government succeeded in bringing Air India back to a situation where it is logging operational profits," Modi said in his Independence Day address from the Red Fort.

"Public sector companies were always seen as ones that make losses and eventually close down. We changed this mindset. We managed to bring several public sector companies out of the woods," he said.

Taking another example, that of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Modi said, "Globally, when telecom companies were making profits, BSNL was in a deep pit. But under our government, this company has also managed to report operational profit."

He said that in the case of Shipping Corp of India, no one thought it could ever make profits.

Modi backs 4 percent inflation target

The PM strongly favoured the government's four per cent inflation target with a plus-minus range of two percentage points for the next five years till 2021.

This was done earlier this month under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India to ensure macro-economic stability.

"Under the previous government, the inflation level had crossed the 10 per cent mark. But we did not let it rise above six per cent," Modi said.

This had been acheived despite two years of drought, he said.

"Our government faced a lot of challenges in terms of price rise due to two successive years of drought," Modi said.

Further, the PM said his government had decided to complete around 118 projects worth Rs 7.5 lakh crore of previous government which were pending for years.

He said his government was giving importance to the projects started by the previous government and had created a group to review the pending programmes.

Modi said that he himself had reviewed development programmes, adding that if a project faces a hurdle, it is a barrier to the nation's development.

PM backs 'freedom' in Balochistan, Pakistani Kashmir

Modi came out openly in support of "freedom" for Balochistan and "Pakistan occupied Kashmir".

"I want to speak a bit about the people in Balochistan, Gilgit, Baltistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.

"The world is watching. People of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have thanked me a lot in the past few days," Modi said. "I am grateful to them."

He said the way people from these Pakistani regions "wished me well, gives me great joy".

Modi said last week that it was time for Islamabad to explain to the world "why it has been committing atrocities on people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan".

Modi also hit out at Pakistan for supporting terrorism. This, he said, was in contrast to the way Indians reacted with sorrow when terrorists slaughtered school children in Peshawar.

"That is the nature of India. But on the other hand, look at those who glorify terrorists. What kind of people glorify terrorists? What kind of people celebrate when people are killed?"

'Social justice needed for a strong nation'

The prime minister said social justice was needed for an empowered society which will guarentee a strong nation. "Only economic development cannot guarantee a strong nation, we also need an empowered society," Modi said.

The prime minister added that the dalits, the downtrodden, the tribals, the educated and uneducated, all 1.25 crore Indians are a single family.

The PM also sought support from all sections of society for the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' initiative which focuses on the girl child. "I still need social support for 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao."

He said one healthy, educated and economically independent woman can pull a family out of poverty.

He also spoke of the bill for extending maternity leave to 26 weeks that the Rajya Sabha passed last week.

PM vows to distribute 77 crore LED lights

The prime minister said saving energy was a focus of his government and pledged to distribute 77 crore electricity efficient LED lights at a subsidised rate of Rs 50 each. "We want to distribute 77 crore more LED bulbs. I urge you all to use LED bulbs, save energy and take part in helping our nation."

"When 77 crore LED lights will be used in the country, India can save up to 20,000 MW energy and electricity worth around Rs 125 crore."

He said the government had brought down the cost of a Rs 350 LED bulb to Rs 50. "I do not want to ask where all that money used to go (during the previous governments). I am happy to inform you that we have distributed 13 crore such bulbs."

Modi said when he took power in 2014, more than 18,000 villages in India did not have electricity.

"When we came to power, we decided they must get electricity within a thousand days. Not even half the time has passed and 10,000 villages have got already electricity."

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Topics : #Narendra Modi

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