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The map and the road ahead

The map and the road ahead

In the sixth Independence Day speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his ascension to power in 2014, addressed from the ramparts of Lal Qila in celebration of India's 73rd year of Independence, a very pertinent question was asked unto Indian: What should 21st Century India look like? How fast should it move? What heights should it strive for? The aspirations of this government are said to be directed towards realising the answers to these questions. Some key areas were emphasised in particular. Not only did the Prime Minister sum up in his speech the accomplishments of the re-elected government in the past 75 days, he also unveiled a compelling social charter covering a range of key issues inclusive of water conservation, concerns regarding population explosion, having a clean and healthy environment, among others. However, the announcement that will have wider ramifications form a consolidated national perspective is the provision of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). A demand for this was raised after a review on the conduct of the Kargil War during the time of late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government. The decision over the CDS had been in limbo for two decades since the war. This major announcement comes in a bid to coordinate the three defence forces, the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. As a matter of national heritage, it must be known that although formally proposed for the first time, the intended coordination was the mark of India's finest General, Field Marshal Sam Manrkshaw who is specially known for leading the war for the liberation of Bangladesh. Certainly, the need for coordinated defence forces cannot be emphasised enough in these times of dynamic strategic scenarios and the need for defence preparedness.

The other pertinent address was with reference to the grand dream of taking India to the height of USD 5 trillion dollar economy. Explaining that the $5-trillion dollar economy is not a difficult proposition, the government will invest over Rs 100 lakh crore for developing infrastructure in the coming five years. Indeed, enhanced infrastructure will facilitate a new level of basics for a growing and thriving economy. Highlighting that India added $1 trillion dollar in five years, the government's pursuit remains dedicated to making it easier for companies to do business in India. Admitting that the economy is not in the pink of its health, Modi assured the country that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. With the pressing crisis of unemployment and job losses, enabling the scope of gob generation is always a welcome move. Another big announcement pertained to the induction of Jal Jeevan Mission for water conservation and revival of water bodies. An allocation of Rs 3.5 lakh crores was announced. Keeping ablaze the spirit of Swachh Bharat Mission, and to make India open defecation free, the Jal Jeevan Mission has been conjoined with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to invite maximum participation of the people to make these initiatives a success. There was a special mention to eradicate rampant corruption form India, bringing to highlight how corruption, and specially institutional, corruption stands in the way of development and prosperity.

Coming to the most sensational development in recent time and seven decades, the Prime Minister explained at length the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and reorganising the state into two Union Territories. With the intention of seeking and implementing solutions, he questioned the very status of Article 370 pointing out that the Article itself was prolonging indecision and preventing a solution from taking place. Had this provision been so useful, it could have been given a permanent status but that never happened. The Prime Minister boldly remarked that the people with large mandates could have fixed matters by removing the temporary status of Article 370. There is, after all, a consensus that in the garb of preferential treatment, this was a discriminatory provision. The removal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir is with the justified purpose of ensuring justice and development to backward sections of society in the State and lakhs of migrants who had moved there following Partition in 1947. This is also a step towards the idea of 'one nation, one Constitution'. Also with reference to the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi elaborated that his government believes in neither creating problems nor in prolonging them, but intends to move ahead decisively with suitable solutions. Making a forceful interjection on the Triple Talaq Bill, he drew an analogy with Sati and asserted that if social evils of the likes of Sati could be eliminated, Muslim women are as much deserving of justice with the removal of Triple Talaq. A significant chunk of the Prime Minister's speech was devoted to concerns pertaining to the environment and behavioural changes that should be affected at the societal level to achieve this. Also in the spirit of Swachh Bharat Mission, Modi emphasised the goal of becoming free of single-use plastic starting October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary. Urging shopkeepers to discourage the use of plastic bags in their stores, he asked citizens to gift cloth bags to each other for use this Diwali. There was a special appeal to farmers to avoid the use of chemical-based fertilisers with the aim of keeping at least 20-25 per cent of their land holdings free of these. "When we say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' (hail to the motherland) we should care for the health of the motherland too," he said. It is a fine initiative to make to bureaucrats in his government find ways and means to reduce the presence of government in the daily life of the people. Appealing to youngsters to travel to at least 15 destinations within India in the next year, not just to know the country better but to give a boost to the tourism sector, is a thing to have many good results. Involving the energy and novelty of youth in building the nation will enhance the growth process and make development qualitatively better.

Making a strong pitch for population control and for those practising a small family norm, equating that with patriotism is like a breath of fresh air in the circulation of stale ideas harping on the nationalism of specific kinds. Stating that population explosion in the country will create various problems for the coming generations, those who follow the policy of small family will contribute to the development in a social and economic context. The most remarkable thing about the Prime Minister's address was the absence of any reference to Pakistan, making this Independence Day entirely India's. 'Can the country change with the change of Government?', the Prime Minister asked in his speech. Yes. Definitely. Acknowledging that beginning with Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, infive years, the Indians have painted the entire mood of the nation with the colour of Sabka Vishwas.

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