NEW DELHI: In his address from the rainswept ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that his government does not delay addressing irritant legacy issues, as exemplified by the revocation of special status to Jammu & Kashmir.
Bolstering his image of being a decisive leader, Modi announced that the nation would finally have a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for integrated command of the three armed services, a proposal by the Kargil Review Committee that had been kept pending for the past 19 years.
In the course of his 95-minute speech, Modi, sporting yellow-and-white headgear, called for a coordinated action plan to address population explosion.
This comes after long deliberations amongst RSS affiliates, who are concerned that the issue is not being taken seriously by the political leadership.
Signalling that his second term in office would be action-packed, the PM, in his sixth Independence Day address, reiterated his call for ‘one nation, one election’ and said simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and Assemblies would help the country.
In line with the Budget proposals, Modi announced the Jal Jeevan Mission and said more than `3.5 lakh crore would be spent to deal with the emerging challenge of water scarcity. The Centre would work in coordination with state governments, the PM said and added the mission would include supplying piped water to households and rejuvenation of water bodies.
Speaking on the August 5 decision to shake off the legacy issue concerning J&K, Modi asked critics that if they favoured Article 370, then why did they not make it a permanent provision of the Constitution.
“If Article 370 was so crucial then why did ruling parties not make it permanent in the last 70 years despite having a majority? Why was it kept temporary? If there was so much of conviction, you should have moved ahead and made it permanent,” said the PM, while adding that efforts would now be on to ensure equitable political representations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state.
In arguably the first articulation of the population issue forcefully by the top political leadership, the prime minister called for giving accolades and respect to those who have kept their families small.
“This is also an expression of their love for the nation,” said Modi, while adding that the Central and state governments would have to come with schemes to ensure that we don’t pass on an “unhealthy and uneducated society” to our progeny.
In a report card of the first 75 days of Modi 2.0, the PM listed out the legislative actions to prohibit the practice of instant divorce amongst Muslims, terrorism (UAPA Amendment) and violence against children (POCSO).