Mr Modi said the people stand at an extraordinary cusp of history
In his tenth consecutive Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi painted a broad canvas, drawing from several hues with contents ranging from history to politics, anecdotes and statistics, rhetoric and polemics. In different moments during the course of his speech, he was magician, motivator, politician, preacher, teacher and best friend.
Setting the context, Mr Modi said the people stand at an extraordinary cusp of history, an inflection point between a thousand-year past of foreign slavery and a glorious millennium ahead for a free, strong and developed India. Who would have imagined when the first small Hindu principality or kingdom fell to an invader that it would be the commencement of a millennium of slavery, a free-for-all to invaders and plunderers, he asked the nation.
Harnessing the power of contrasts, he then spoke of the position occupied by the country after 76 years of Independence — which includes being among the top five economies of the world after scoring victories and making progress in every walk of life and sector of human endeavour. He focussed then on women power, a section of society, he said, we had a cultural responsibility to empower.
Indian girls today pursue careers in STEM (sciences, technology, engineering and math) in greater numbers than boys, and outshine them in not just academics but most other areas. Harnessing the power of women (mothers, sisters, daughters) is crucial to achieving India’s larger goals because they represent the power to achieve amazing things. Mr Modi also spoke of start-ups, funded in large numbers by the Mudra Yojana, who are becoming the fountainhead of a new economic power where funds from the government in the hands of enterprising youth and women were not only creating financial self-sufficiency and success for individuals and families, but also newer jobs for millions of others.
Speaking of Amrit Kaal — years 76 to 100 of India’s Independence — Mr Modi was confident that the next 25 years would show that India’s progress and rise was not stoppable and Indian citizens now had confidence, the backing of a strong and stable government, the means and vision to achieve great success.
In 2047, when we celebrate the centenary of our Independence, it will be in a fully-developed India, one which has achieved all the dreams dreamt by our great ancestors, the freedom fighters and founding fathers, Mr Modi said. Those dreams are still with us as a force of inspiration, he said, invoking the stirring power of emotion and imagination.
Mr Modi described the governance of the last nine years in terms of speed and scale, the intrepid courage to dream and investment of hard work towards achieving them, transparency, honesty and dedication, but also warned against evils that could still ruin our progress — corruption, nepotism and a colonial mindset.
Calling himself a national servant dedicated to ensuring every Indian achieves their goals, Mr Modi said, “I am working for you not to keep myself in power but because as a member of your family, I can’t countenance your tears. I strive hard because I can’t bear the thought of your dreams being crushed. I will work till each one of you achieves your dream.”
And like most speeches made by Prime Minister Modi, this one, too, found resonance among the largest number of Indians, cheered as it was vigorously by the multitudes at the Red Fort that was a telling sign of how it had been received by the rest of our 1.4 billion plus fellow citizens.