New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at Pakistan for glorifying terrorists, during his 90-minute address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day on Monday.

Modi declared that the country will not bow before terrorism even as he said people of Baluchistan and PoK have thanked him for raising issue of atrocities against them. Modi made no reference to the situation in Kashmir valley which has been rocked by violence after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, but accused Pakistan of glorifying terrorists and celebrating killings in India. This was an obvious reference to Wani who has been hailed as a martyr by Pakistan, which was not directly named by him.

He touched upon a wide range of social and economic policies and issues that the government is pursuing and strongly advocated cooperation from the people for their successful implementation.

School children at the Red Fort on the occasion of the nation’s 70th Independence Day.
School children at the Red Fort on the occasion of the nation’s 70th Independence Day.

PM backs ‘freedom’ in Balochistan, Pakistani Kashmir: Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out openly in support of “freedom” for Balochistan and “Pakistan occupied Kashmir”. “I want to speak a bit about the people in Balochistan, Gilgit, Baltistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” the Prime Minister said in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. “The world is watching. People of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have thanked me a lot in the past few days,” Modi said. Modi said last week that it was time for Islamabad to explain to the world “why it has been committing atrocities on people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan”. On Monday, Modi also hit out at Pakistan for supporting terrorism. This, he said, was in contrast to the way Indians reacted with sorrow when terrorists slaughtered school children in Peshawar.

Modi backs 4 percent inflation target: Narendra Modi on Monday strongly favoured the government’s 4 percent inflation target with a plus-minus range of two percentage points for the next five years till 2021. This was done earlier this month under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India to ensure macro-economic stability. “Under the previous government, the inflation level had crossed the 10 per cent mark. But we did not let it rise above 6 per cent,” Modi said in his speech. This had been achieved despite two years of drought, he said.

GST will strengthen economy: Modi said the pan-India Goods and Services (GST) tax regime will strengthen the Indian economy and thanked all political parties for the passage of the relevant bill to initiate the process. “GST will give strength to our economy. All parties are to be thanked for its passage,” Modi said in his Independence Day address. “GST is also one such tax reform that will help us bring financial stability,” said the Prime Minister. “One nation, one grid and one price is what we have worked on.”

Modi address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Monday.
Modi address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Monday.

India ranked best for investment by all global agencies: The Prime Minister said every major global agency has ranked in India the best investment destination, even as the country’s economy has continued to grow well despite the global gloom. Be it the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Economic Forum, they have all declared India to be the best destination for global capital, Modi said in his Independence Day address from the Red Fort. “It is important for India to remain relevant and lead the global economy. But that is possible only if we adopt global standards. In recent days you have already seen how rating agencies have appreciated our moves on ease of doing business.”

Modi announces hike in freedom fighters pensions: Modi announced a 20 per cent hike in the pension of freedom fighters. “Pension for our freedom fighters will be increased by 20 per cent. So those who are receiving Rs 25,000 will now get Rs 30,000,” Modi said in his address to the nation.

PM thanks soldiers on Independence Day: The Prime Minister thanked the soldiers who guard India’s borders. He said India cannot forget the soldiers because of whom we enjoy our freedom. Loud applause was heard from the audience as the Prime Minister mentioned the soldiers. He said that his government had approved the long-pending ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme and brought happiness to the families of the soldiers.

Turnaround of Air India, BSNL, Shipping Corp: He said his government had managed not only to change people’s mindsets towards state-run enterprises but also helped companies like Air India, BSNL and Shipping Corp to make operational profits. “Air India was notorious for incurring losses. My government succeeded in bringing Air India back to a situation where it is logging operational profits,” Modi said in his Independence Day address from the Red Fort. “Public sector companies were always seen as ones that make losses and eventually close down. We changed this mindset. We managed to bring several public sector companies out of the woods,” he said.

Social justice needed for a strong nation: Modi said social justice was needed for an empowered society which will guarentee a strong nation. “Only economic development cannot guarantee a strong nation, we also need an empowered society,” Modi said. He said a focus on social justice was needed. The prime minister added that the Dalits, the downtrodden, the tribals, the educated and uneducated, all 1.25 crore Indians are a single family.

PM vows to distribute 77 crore LED lights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said saving energy was a focus of his government and pledged to distribute 77 crore electricity efficient LED lights at a subsidized rate of Rs 50 each. “We want to distribute 77 crore more LED bulbs. I urge you all to use LED bulbs, save energy and take part in helping our nation,” Modi said in his Independence Day speech. “When 77 crore LED lights will be used in the country, India can save up to 20,000 MW energy and electricity worth around Rs 125 crore.”

Modi salutes Gandhi, Nehru, Patel: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. “It is due to their efforts that we today enjoy freedom,” Modi said in his Independence Day address. “Every Indian has worked for the country. Swaraj came with their contributions. Today, to convert this Swaraj to Suraj (good governance) should be our goal,” he said.

Earlier, the Prime Minister was received by Defence Minister Manoha Parrikar, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar and Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. Those who were attended the grand ceremony included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, union ministers and foreign dignitaries.