In a colourful celebration at the historic Red Fort in Delhi to mark the country’s independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended Indians for the country’s growth in the last 75 years and emphasized the need to do more, especially in the area of gender equality.
Before giving his speech at the ancient monument, the Prime Minister unfurled the country’s flag and was greeted with a 21-gun salute.
“The way the world is seeing India is changing. There is hope from India, and the reason is the skills of 1.3 billion Indians,” the prime minister said. “The diversity of India is our strength. Being the mother of democracy gives India the inherent power to scale new heights.”
The prime minister said his goal is to ensure that the country becomes developed at its 100th independence celebration, which is still 25 years ahead.
The call for Gender Equality
The issue of gender equality is one that cannot be overlooked in India. In 2020, India ranked 112th among 153 countries in the annual Global Gender Gap Index for 2020, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Narendra Modi, in his independence speech, stressed the need for citizens to treat the women and girls of India the same way the men are treated, saying the country needs its ‘nari shakti’ (women’s power).
“For some reason, a distortion has crept into our conduct, our behaviour, our words so at times we insult women. Can we take a pledge to stop this behaviour?” Modi asked, adding that “for India to achieve the goals envisioned by its freedom fighters in the next 25 years, women have to play a critical role.
“If we uplift women and empower them, we can achieve our goals quickly and easily. The more opportunities we give to our daughters, the more they will take India forward,” Modi continued.
Narendra Modi advised Indians to treat their daughters the same way men are treated, and equal opportunities should be allowed for both genders. He also hailed women’s efforts in the country’s judiciary, governance, academics, sports, and science. He added that India needs the support of women to succeed.
The Fight against Corruption and Nepotism
Prime Minister Modi, as usual, did not fail to talk about corruption in the country. In what many believed to be an attack on his opposition, he said his government was “going against those that looted” the country’s wealth.
“Corruption is hollowing out the country like a termite and we will have to fight it. We are going against those who have looted the country, and we are trying to get the loot back. We are entering a decisive phase, and no high or mighty would be spared now,” Modi said.
He continued, saying, “for [corrupt] mentality to end, people must hate corruption and the corrupt and look down upon them socially.”
“Dynasty Kills Merit”
For most of the country’s 75 years of independence, India was ruled by the Nehru and Gandhi dynasty. To date, some Indian states are controlled by some sort of family dynasty.
Unlike the great families in India, Modi had days of little beginnings. As a result, he does not fail to talk about the dynasties whenever he has the opportunity to do so. Narendra Modi stressed that the dynasties that have ruled India resulted in nepotism, which affected the development of the country. He called on “citizens of India to stand against dynasty and dynastic politics.”
“Dynasty kills merit, but unfortunately, the dynasty is not just limited to politics. We need to discourage this in institutions and sports. We need to start a revolution against it,” Modi said, adding that the successes recorded in the recently concluded sports events, like the Commonwealth games and the Olympics, were signs that the country was successfully fighting nepotism.
“It’s not that we didn’t have talent earlier, but transparent selection bereft of nepotism has led to Indians winning medals.”
5G in India
Despite the country’s numerous challenges, critics cannot dismiss the fact that India is a country to be emulated when it comes to technology. Prime Minister Modi talked about the emergence of 5G that would bring revolutions in the rural areas of the country.
“India’s techade [tech decade] is here. With 5G, semiconductor manufacturing and Optical Fibre Cables (OFCs) in villages, we will bring in revolutions in education, health and agriculture to the grassroots level,” Modi said, adding that “the Digital India Movement can bring about revolutionary changes in India and in the lives of the common man.”
In the coming weeks and months, India is expecting to see a the graduation from 4g networks to 5g, a development that will be favourable to the over 1billion internet users in the country.
The World Celebrates with India
As usual, many world leaders congratulated India on its independence day celebration. President Joe Biden, in an official statement, celebrated with Indians and the nearly four million Indian-Americans.
“As nearly four million Indian-Americans celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence on August 15, the United States also join the people of India to honour its democratic journey, which is guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s message of truth and non-violence,” Biden said in a statement.
President Putin of Russia also congratulated the Indian prime Minister and the President-elect on the country’s independence. He said: “Russian -Indian relations are developing in the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership.”
“Dear friend Narendra Modi, dear people of India, congratulations on your Independence Day! As you proudly celebrate India’s stunning achievements in the past 75 years, you can count on France to always stand by your side,” President Macron of France also said on Twitter.
Celebration Amidst Multiple Crises
Despite the celebrations in India, the country is not free from challenges. Some Indians have argued that the country’s democracy is dying as the current government is clamping down on opposition and dealing with the challenge of Islamophobia.
Others feel there is very little to celebrate as the country’s economy has been unstable even before the outbreak of the coronavirus. India is currently dealing with multiple economic challenges, including a decline in the country’s currency, growing unemployment rates, rising energy prices, and increasing inflation rates. These and more have caused some Indians, especially the opposition, to ask if the celebrations are worth it. But after 75 years, India has left most developing countries behind as it climbs to be among the strongest countries in the world.