Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets nation on Independence Day

Aug 15, 2014, 09:17 IST | Agencies

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday greeted the people of India on the occasion of the 68th Independence Day

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday greeted the people of India on the occasion of the 68th Independence Day.

"Greetings to my fellow Indians on Independence Day! May our tricolour fly high and our nation scale new heights of development. Jai Hind!" Modi said in a tweet.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PicAFP.

Wearing his trademark white half-sleeve kurta pyjama with a polka-dotted flaming orange turban, Modi reached the 17th century Red Fort after paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat.

The prime minister offered flowers at the blackstone memorial before heading to the Red Fort monument to deliver his maiden Independence Day speech.

He then hoisted the tricolour at the Red Fort on Independence Day. Before beginning the speech, Modi -- in a departure from convention -- took salute from the armed forces. He spoke mostly extempore, occasionally looking down for a peek at his notes.

Addressing tens of thousands of cheering people gathered at the Red Fort complex on a bright morning, Narendra Modi, in his maiden Independence Day address, spoke for over an hour, focussing mainly on nation building and underlining the need to forge national consensus on major issues.

"I stand before you today not as the prime minister but as the pradhan sevak," he said at the start of his speech. "Many, many greetings from the Pradhan Sevak."

He hailed Indian democracy for allowing a person from "an ordinary family" to assume the country's top post.

"It is a tribute to Indian democracy" that a person from "a poor family, an ordinary family is today addressing the nation from the Red Fort," he said while delivering his Independence Day speech.

"I am an outsider to Delhi. But an outsider came to Delhi and got an insider view," Modi said, during his speech.

"I was surprised," he went on. "What I am saying is not about politics."

Modi also despaired that after becoming the prime minister in May he had realized that "even in one government there were different governments.

"It was as if each had their own jagirs (fiefdom)."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also saluted all those who sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle.

"I salute all those who sacrificed themselves for India's freedom," Modi said while addressing the nation from the Red Fort here.

"The struggle for freedom went on for years, generations sacrificed their lives even at the prime of their youth."

He urged Indians to give up the "poison" of casteism and communalism and embrace unity for the country's progress.

Addressing the nation from the Red Fort, the prime minister said it was a shame that caste and communal politics continued even so many years after independence.

"How long will this continue?" he asked, his voice choked with emotion.

"We have fought enough, we have killed enough. Turn back and see, has anyone gained anything?"

He said that years of bloodshed had only caused deep wounds to "Bharat Mata".

The prime minister urged people to give up, at least for 10 years, caste and communal politics.

"Peace, unity, brotherhood should take over. Only these will help us to march ahead."

He also announced a burial of the Planning Commission, saying it was not needed any more. He said a new institution will take its place.

Also read: Planning Commission will be axed, replaced: Narendra Modi

Modi made special reference to women's safety and the girl child.

Despairing over India's skewed sex ratio, he told Indians to end female foeticide. "I appeal to parents not to sacrifice the girl child."

The PM also added that the country's head hangs in shame whenever there is news about rape.

"Our heads hang in shame when we hear news about rape," Modi said.

He also asked parents to question their sons about the malaise.

"After all, a person raping is someone's son. As parents, has anyone asked our sons, where is he going? Why not put the same yardstick for sons too," he added.

The Prime Minister urged investors from around the world to make India a manufacturing hub, saying "Come, Make in India".

"I tell the world, Make in India," Modi said delivering his maiden address from the Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day. "Sell anywhere but manufacture here. We have the skill and talent."

He added: "Our dreams should be that all over the world we can say 'Made in India'."

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