Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Wednesday morning on the occasion of Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi. This was the prime minister’s last Independence Day speech before next year’s General Elections.
Modi hailed his government’s achievements since coming to power in 2014, and said India would have taken decades to give its citizens toilets and cooking gas and electricity connections if it had moved at the pace of 2013. The prime minister said policy paralysis and delayed reforms had given way to “reform, perform, transform”.
In key announcements, Modi said the healthcare insurance scheme will be launched on September 25, and that India will send a manned mission to space, “Gaganyaan”, by 2022. He also used the slogans “Cooking for All, Water for All, Sanitation for All, Skills for All, Health for All, Insurance for All, Connectivity for All”.
The prime minister spoke of healthcare, women’s safety, poverty alleviation, development in the North East, the fight against corruption and the cleanliness mission in his speech.
At over 80 minutes, the speech was the third-longest ever by a prime minister on Independence Day. The longest speeches were by Narendra Modi himself in 2015 (86 minutes) and 2016 (96 minutes). Before he became prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s 72-minute-long speech in 1947 was the longest.
12.34 pm: The Congress says Narendra Modi’s “last speech on Independence Day” was shallow, ANI reports. “There was no substance,” spokesperson Randeep Surjewala says. He says that Modi did not speak on the alleged corruption in the Rafale defence deal and the Vyapam scam, or China’s “encroachment” in Doklam. Modi also did not speak on the “atmosphere of hatred created in the nation”, Surjewala says.
“He should have spoken the truth in his last speech,” says Surjewala. “He is unable to do mann ki baat, so should have at least done kaam ki baat [should have said substantial things]. Achche din [good days] never came, now the nation awaits sachche din [truthful days], and they will come when Modiji goes.”
12.05 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind pays tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti, along with chiefs of the three defence forces.
11.20 am: The Congress’ Twitter handle posts a clip of the flag slipping down the flagpole when BJP President Amit Shah was unfurling it at the party headquarters earlier in the day. “How can those who cannot protect the flag protect the country?” the Congress says. “Those who give the certificate of patriotism to others do not know the rules related to the national anthem.”
10.28 am: Personnel of Pakistan Rangers and the Border Security Force exchange sweets at the Wagah border.
10.07 am: Congress President Rahul Gandhi unfurls the national flag at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi.
9.53 am: Indian and Bangladeshi troops exchange sweets at a border post in Fulbari, West Bengal.
9.40 am: Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu chief ministers unfurl the national flag in their state capitals on Independence Day.
9.35 am: At over 80 minutes, the speech was the third-longest ever by a prime minister on Independence Day. The longest speeches were by Narendra Modi himself in 2015 (86 minutes) and 2016 (96 minutes). Before he became prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s 72-minute-long speech in 1947 was the longest.
9.08 am: The Independence Day ceremony at the Red Fort is now over.
9.04 am: After the national anthem, the prime minister meets schoolchildren at the Red Fort.
8.54 am: Modi gets poetic as he ends his speech: [translated]
“With our ambition and our destination clear, we are breaking shackles, and we are changing the picture. This is a new age, a new India, and we will write our destiny ourselves. We have set off having sacrificed our tan-man [bodies and souls], we are stubborn that we want a new sunrise, to conquer the skies, and to build a new India.”
8.51 am: “I am impatient and restless because many countries have moved ahead of us,” says Narendra Modi in his ongoing address. “I am restless to uproot malnutrition, to give insurance cover for the poor, to give my citizens quality of life and ease of living. I am impatient that India should lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is based on information technology.”
8.49 am: “We want to move forward with the slogans of Cooking for All, Water for All, Sanitation for All, Skills for All, Health for All, Insurance for All, Connectivity for All,” Modi says.
8.47 am: “We don’t want to solve the Kashmir problem with goli and gaali [bullets and abuses], but by embracing Kashmiris [gale milaakar],” says the prime minister.
8.45 am: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been removed entirely from Tripura and Meghalaya and many districts of Arunachal Pradesh, he says.
8.43 am: “We tried to free Muslim women from the practice of triple talaq, but there are still some people who don’t allow for the bill to be passed,” says Modi. He assures Muslim women that the bill to abolish the practice will be passed.
8.42 am: “The rule of law is supreme, no one has the right to take law in their own hands,” the prime minister says, while talking about safety of women.
8.38 am: “We have three women judges for the first time in the Supreme Court, and this Union Cabinet has the highest number of ministers ever,” Modi says. He announces that women will be appointed as officers in the permanent commission of Indian Army’s Short Service Commission.
8.36 am: “Whatever happens, we will not pardon black money corruption,” says Modi. “There are no power brokers in New Delhi now, times have changed. We have put an end to ‘bhai-bhateejawaad’ [referring to nepotism], we have shut down 3 lakh companies suspected of wrongdoing.”
8.34 am: The number of direct taxpayers in the country has increased from less than 4 crore before 2014 to 6.75 crore now, Narendra Modi says.
8.30 am: Modi speaks about the work done against corruption. He says there were 6 crore phantom bank accounts, but the government has restored Rs 90,000 crore from them to the use of the nation.
He says India is now celebrating a “festival of honesty”.
8.26 am: Five crore people have come out of poverty in the last two years, Modi says, citing an international report.
8.23 am: “Our government has decided to launch the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyaan [Public Healthcare Scheme], which will give health insurance for 10 crore families,” he says. The scheme was first announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget in February.
The scheme will be launched on September 25, the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Modi announces.
8.22 am: Modi compares Gandhi’s satyagraha with today’s “swachhagraha” ahead of the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation next year.
8.20 am: When I first spoke of Swachh Bharat Mission from the Red Fort in 2014, I was mocked at, but today, the World Health Organization says that lives of 3 lakh children have been saved because of the policy, says Narendra Modi.
8.17 am: “We have brought policies that value human dignity so that even the poorest people can see themselves as equal to others,” Modi says, citing the Ujjwala and Saubhagya schemes.
8.14 am: Modi again speaks about doubling farm incomes by 2022. “We want to modernise agriculture, lift yields to record levels and move towards an Agriculture Export Policy,” the prime minister says.
8.12 am: Narendra Modi says India will send a manned mission “Gaganyaan” and become the fourth country to send a human being into space.
8.09 am: He says that 13 crore loans have been given under the MUDRA scheme. Youngsters are running common service centres in half of all villages to connect people to information technology, Modi says.
Praising Indian scientists, Modi says we astonished the world by launching 100 satellites in one go.
8.05 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about the achievements of Northeast India in sports, construction and infrastructure and business, and also notes that the last village to get “electrified” is in the region.
8.04 am: India is a ray of hope for those who talk of environmental issues and global warming, the prime minister says. “The power of the Indian passport has gone up,” he says.
8.03 am: The sleeping elephant has now woken up and began its journey, Modi says.
8.01 am: “We earlier talked of red tape, today we talk of red carpet,” Modi says, adding: “Policy paralysis and delayed reforms have given way to ‘Reform, perform, transform’.”
7.59 am: Development stops if we set small goals, he says.
Files on the decision to give farmers their rightful prices were stalled, but our government made the decision to give them 1.5 times their produce prices, Modi says. He also says there is a new trust among traders after the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. Modi also hails the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code that was passed under the BJP-led government.
7.55 am: Narendra Modi says the government gave a rightful response to the enemy with the “surgical strikes” in September 2016.
7.53 am: Narendra Modi mentions record road construction figures, phone manufacturing numbers, aircraft purchases, building of toilets in schools, and setting up of new IITs, IIMs and AIIMS. He speaks about skill development centres and says there is a wave of start-ups in our Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
7.50 am: If we compare the work done in the last four years with the speed at which the nation was moving in 2013, you will be amazed, says Modi. “If we moved at the same speed as in 2013, it would have taken decades to build toilets across the nation, and one or two more decades to electrify all villages, and hundred years would also not be enough to give cooking gas connections for all poor women.” Generations would have gone by if we had the same speed as in 2013 in laying down optical fibres across the villages, he adds.
7.47 am: Modi speaks of “Team India”, which unites the dreams and aspirations of all Indians. Our citizens did not stop after bringing us to power in 2014, but are busy in reforming the nation.
7.45 am: We should build an atmosphere that gives everyone freedom to move ahead to fulfil their aspirations, he says. We want that India shines across the world.
7.43 am: Narendra Modi quotes 20th-century Tamil poet Subramania Bharati, or Bharathiyar, to say that India will show the way in removing all obstacles.
7.42 am: The next Baisakhi (April 13, 2019) will mark 100 years of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in Amritsar, says the prime minister.
7.41 am: Those affected in floods in different parts of the country have all our support, says Narendra Modi.
7.40 am: Narendra Modi pays tribute to freedom fighters, defence forces, police for their “sacrifice and bravery”.
7.38 am: Every Indian living in other countries is proud that India is among the six top economies in the world, Modi says. We are celebrating independence amidst a series of such achievements and successes, he says.
7.35 am: The prime minister hails the productive Monsoon Session of the Parliament earlier this month. The session was dedicated to the cause of social justice for Dalits, tribal people and women, Modi says. The Parliament showed sensitivity to the cause, he says, giving the example of the passage of the bill on the National Commission for the Backward Classes.
7.34 am: Modi begins his speech and greets the nation on the occasion.
7.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi unfurls the flag.
7.29 am: Nearly 70,000 Delhi Police personnel are guarding the national capital, reports PTI. Around 10,000 of them are deployed at the Red Fort.
7.26 am: The prime minister greeted the nation on the occasion earlier in the day.
7.23 am: Narendra Modi is moving towards the ramparts of the Red Fort to unfurl the tricolour and start his address to the nation.
7.22 am: Security has been tightened, with National Security Guard snipers, elite SWAT commandos and kite catchers, around the Red Fort, PTI reports.
7.19 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade arrives at the Red Fort.
7.12 am: More visuals from the Red Fort. The prime minister’s speech is set to begin shortly.
7 am: Visuals of the Red Fort, where Prime Minister Modi is soon expected to deliver his last Independence Day speech before next year’s General Elections.
6.55 am: In his address to the nation last night, President Ram Nath Kovind urged citizens not to get distracted by contentious topics and extraneous debates at a “pivotal moment” in the country.