Independence Day

Fact check: From LPG subsidies to maternity leave, comparing Modi’s I-Day claims with the data

The prime minister’s Independence Day speech was more of a laundry list of achievements, with few new announcements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Tuesday was not only his shortest Independence Day address so far, it also had little by way of major announcements. Aside from a few one-liners calling for Indians to change their attitudes and for a different approach to Kashmir, Modi’s annual speech from the Red Fort was more of a laundry list of achievements.

Excerpts from the speech below feature a number of claims made by the Prime Minister about the achievements of his government over the last three years. checked to find if the claims are backed up by primary data. Read the entire speech here.


  • Claim: “The success of GST [Goods and Services Tax] can be attributed to the hard work that has been put in to make it a success. Technology has made it look like a miracle. The global community is surprised how we were able to roll out GST in such a short time.”
    Check: Not a miracle but quite an achievement following the efforts of several Union governments collectively. India has taken 17 years to launch the indirect tax regime. It is difficult to make comparisons with other countries about the speed at which the Goods and Services Tax was instituted. The nearest fit would be the case of harmonising indirect taxes across member states of the European Union. It had a principle idea in place in 1963. But a harmonised indirect tax regime was first talked of formally in 1985 and then finalised by 2006. That is 21 years.
  • Claim: “New systems are emerging. Today roads are being built at twice the speed.”
    Check: False. The prime minister did not say what periods he was comparing with. Data of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that since 2001, the roads were built at the highest speed in 2012-’13. This includes, national and state highways, rural and urban roads.
  • Claim: “The railway tracks are being laid at double the speed.”
    Check: False. Again, the prime minister did not say what periods he was comparing with. Since 2009-’10, the highest rate of adding new railway lines was witnessed in 2011-’12. Between 2014-’16, broad gauge lines were commissioned (commissioning is different from laying and takes far more work) at an average rate of 2,400 km per year. In 2016-’17, the authorities planned 2,800 km of rail lines per year and in 2017-’18, they hope to double this to 4,745 km.
  • Claim: “More than 14,000 villages that were hitherto shrouded in darkness even after Independence have been provided with electricity.”
    Check: Partially true. Out of the 18,452 census villages identified as without electricity, 14,834 have been linked to the grid or a power line. However, one of every four households in India does not have an electricity connection even though more than 99% of the villages technically have a power line. The Central Electricity Authority says the data on rate of village electrification cannot be compared month on month.
  • Claim: “Bank accounts of 29 crore people have been opened.”
    Check: Partly true. Until August 8, 2017, 29.48 crore new zero-balance Jan Dhan accounts had been opened. But almost one third of these were not the first accounts of the individuals, as per an exhaustive survey conducted by Microsave.
  • Claim: “More than 9 crore farmers have got Soil Health Card.”
    Check: Partly true. While 9.06 crore health cards have been sent to farmers. Of these only 2.50 crore have actual data on their cards about the health of their soil.
  • Claim: “More than 2 crore poor mothers and sisters are no longer using fuel wood and using LPG gas stove now.”
    Check: False. While 2.5 crore new gas connections have been made under the Ujjwala scheme, the total LPG gas cylinder or gas consumption figures show that the people have not bought new cylinders after they get with the free connection.
  • Claim: “Loans worth more than [Rs] 8 crore have been sanctioned without guarantee to the youth for self-employment.”
    Check: False. Under the Mudra scheme, 7.46 crore loan accounts have been opened for small entrepreneurs between 2015-’17 by banks and others. Data for 2015-’16 shows only 40% were getting loans for the first time. The scheme itself had refinanced only 2.5% of all these loans.
  • Claim: “I review government projects every month. A specific project came to my notice. It was a 42-year-old project. Seventy kilometres-72 kilometres of railway lines were to be laid, but the project was lying in limbo for the last 42 years.”
    Check: Misleading example: Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy shows that after rising substantially for two years, the rate of completion of projects has actually come down after March 2016 and is likely to slip further.
  • Claim: “My mothers and sisters, the women in the families seek employment in large numbers. And therefore we have taken a very important step to reform the labour laws to provide them the employment opportunities in the night also.”
    Check: True. The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, passed by the Lok Sabha has removed earlier provisions that prohibited women from working: (i) on certain machines in motion, (ii) near cotton-openers, and (iii) between 7 pm and 6 am.
  • Claim: “Cheap medicines through Jan Aushadhi Kendras are a boon to the poor.”
    Check: The Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana is a Department of Pharmaceuticals initiative to open dedicated Jan Aushadhi Stores where high-quality generic medicines are sold at low prices. The government had set a target of opening 3,000 stores across the country by March 2017. As of February, only 683 stores had been opened, The official website now says that 2,149 stores have been opened so far. The budget allocation for the scheme was only Rs 1.7 crore in 2012-’13 but has been increased to Rs 74.62 cr in 2017-’18.
  • Claim: “Our mothers and sisters are an integral unit of our families. Their contribution in making our future is extremely important. And that is why we have decided to increase the paid maternity leave to 26 weeks from the earlier 12 weeks.”
    Check: Partly true. In August 2016, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill, 2016, which extended paid maternity leave entitlement for women working in the organised sector from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. But a great many Indian women work in the unorganised sector.
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.