New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his second Independence Day address, focussed largely on the issue of corruption and asserted that the steps taken by his government over the last 15 months to deal with the “termite” had started yielding results.
He spoke about a number of initiatives to end corruption and bring transparency and proposed doing away with the practice of interview for small jobs, contending that this becomes a route for corruption.
One Rank One Pension
Modi talked about the much-anticipated ‘One-Rank, One-Pension’, saying the government has “in-principle accepted” it and he was hopeful of a positive outcome of the ongoing discussions which are in the “last stage”.
He mentioned the announcements made during his first Independence Day address last year and said many of them had been implemented in a time-bound manner.
Casteism and Communalism
While talking about efforts for development, Modi made a strong pitch for communal harmony and peace.
“The world keeps signing praise about India’s diversity and greatness. Like diversity, the country also has simplicity and unity, which are our capital. These have been nurtured over the centuries. This capital has to be preserved,” he said.
“Be it the poison of casteism or the frenzy of communalism, these have no place in the country and should not be allowed to grow. These ills have to be eradicated through the nectar of development,” he said.
Modi said if the unity of India is destroyed, then the “dreams” of the people will also be shattered as the country looking forward to development and progress.
Talking about the issue of corruption which he described as “termite”, the Prime Minister vowed to free the country from this evil “braving all kinds of attacks” on him as he asserted that there is not an allegation of even Re one corruption against his 15-month-old government.
“There is a lot of talk in our country about corruption.
It is like a sick person giving suggestions to others on how to remain healthy, there are people who are themselves corrupt, who give suggestions on how to deal with corruption,” he said.
“Giving suggestions to each other is also an art. I want to give an account today…We have not shown our commitment to fight corruption by addressing press conferences. We are working on the ground. We have shown results,” he said.
He said the “termite” had spread but nobody took any action against it over the last 60 years. “There is a requirement of applying injection per square metre for a long time to deal with this termite,” Modi said.
Mentioning the new Act made on black money, he said people have been complaining that it is “too tough” a law. “We have received messages that the law is too tough and it should be diluted,” he said, without naming anybody.
Likening it to treating a serious ailment which requires administering strong medicines, he said, “there can be side-effects but the ailment has to be cured.” He said through the new law, while efforts are being made to bring back black money already stashed abroad, it has at least ensured that nobody dares to take tainted money out of the country.
He said through the compliance window provided by the government, around Rs 6500 crore of undeclared money has already been disclosed. “Is it not fighting corruption?”
Referring to his pet clean India initiative, Modi said almost 4.25 lakh toilets were built in 2.62 lakh schools nationwide since the announcement of the scheme on this day last year.
“Swachh Bharat campaign is the most important initiative of 1.25 crore people of Team India with contributions by all–from celebrities to politicians, to teachers, spiritual leaders and the media. The children proved to be the biggest brand ambassadors of the campaign,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the biggest tribute to Mahatma Gandhi would be a ‘Clean India’ by 2019, the sesquicentennial year of the Father of the Nation.
Dignity of Labor
Modi said as part of his government’s efforts to recognize dignity of labour, it was decided to give Identity Cards to those working in unorganised sectors.
“Rs 27,000 crore of their money was lying with the government. With the introduction of I cards for them, their money will go with them wherever they go,” he said, adding “dignity of labour is our national duty…it should be part of our nature”.
Referring to the efficacy of Direct Benefit Transfer with regard to LPG subsidy, he said Rs 15,000 crore was being transferred annually to the accounts of the beneficiaries which eliminated the “brokers and middlemen” from the system.
“Rs 15,000 crore that used to be swindled in the name of LPG subsidy was stopped. Is it not a way to fight corruption?” he said.
Modi said, in response to his “give it up” movement, 20 lakh people, who were not rich but middle class, surrendered their LPG subsidy. “This money from 20 lakh people can now go to for helping the poor,” he said.
Renaming Agriculture Ministry
Amid reports of rise in farmer suicides, the Prime Minister said peasants’ welfare was as important as agricultural growth and announced renaming Agriculture Ministry as Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. This, he said, will institutionalise the welfare of farmers.
He also announced a special scheme for mineral bearing areas, most of which are inhabited by adivasis, saying Rs 6000 crore will be spent on them every year.
Banks and Start-Ups
Lauding the banks for helping in government’s endeavour of financial inclusion, Modi asked them to encourage “start-ups” for bringing about an economic transformation.
He said every branch should give loan to at least one adivasi or a dalit in their area to help them as part of ” start-up India, stand up India initiative as a tribute to B R Ambedkar on his 125th birth anniversary this year. Similar programmes should also be launched for women entrepreneurs.
In order to boost manufacturing in India and promote employment, he said companies which generate employment for the locals will be given special packages, including loans.
Modi said 18,500 villages still to be electrified and set the timeline of 1000 days for its completion.