Narendra Modi delivers maiden Independence Day speech


From Delhi’s imposing Red Fort early on Friday morning, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an extempore first Independence Day speech, telling the world, “Come, make in India. Sell anywhere, but manufacture here.  We have the skill and the talent.”

The bullet proof glass that previous Prime Ministers have stood behind was conspicuous by its absence as the Prime Minister reached out – not just to investors, but also to political rivals. “We want to move forward not on the basis of majority but on consensus,” Mr Modi said.

Wearing a cream short-sleeved kurta and a red safa or turban, Mr Modi reiterated the commitments that powered his campaign for the national election this year – a focus on creating jobs and attracting investment.  He once again stressed on good governance and development as the core strength of democracy and said his priority was “people private partnership” where the young would create many jobs.

In another break with tradition, more than 10,000 members of the public were present at the Red Fort; the occasion is usually reserved for VIPs.

The Prime Minister began by stating that he is “not the prime minister but the prime servant,” promising that his government, now three months old, will serve, not rule.

In a speech high on emotional content, he also said that it was 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 described himself as an “outsider in Delhi, not liked by the city’s elite.”
The Prime Minister talked less about policy or schemes, and more about the need for urgent social fixes. He talked about communal and caste violence as an obstacle to growth. And about the shame of rape and female feoticide. “Don’t kill daughters in the womb. It is a blot on 21st century India,” he said.

“Let us take a pledge to defeat poverty,” the prime minister said, also announcing a ‘ people wealth scheme’  to ensure all Indians can have a bank account, while blaming the high level of suicides among farmers on their inability to pay back money-lenders.