New Delhi: In his second ID (Independence Day) speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government was, in principle, in favour of the One Rank One Pension scheme although details were being worked out and negotiations with retired servicemen were on.
He also reaffirmed his government’s anti-corruption credentials which have been dented in recent months by allegations of impropriety and corruption against foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje in L’affaire Modi and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Vyapam scam.
Modi’s 90-minute speech was delivered with his characteristic vigour, but lacked any barbs aimed at the opposition, which has ensured that the government’s legislative agenda has been in stop-start mode (and more stop than start). It was aimed largely at Bharat, and addressed issues related to the ongoing agrarian crisis, and improving the status of Dalits and women, specifically by helping them start-up businesses.
Unlike last year, when Modi used the ID speech to unveil several campaigns and programmes such as Make in India, Jan Dhan Yojana, Swach Bharat, and Digital India, this year’s speech didn’t focus on specific missions. However, Modi used it as an opportunity to talk about the success of the government’s Swach Bharat and financial inclusion schemes.
He did, however, stress on the importance of India being “No 1 in Start-ups”. “Start-up India; Stand-up India,” he said — an utterance that could well mean that a “Start-up India” mission is on its way and will be announced shortly. Banks should help Dalits and women by giving them loans to start-up businesses, the prime minister said. Start-up are the key to helping young people succeed, he added. “If we want them to succeed, we have to give them opportunities. I often think, can’t India top the list of start-ups?”. Each of the 125,000 bank branches should give loans to Dalits, women, and tribals, so that the country could, in no time, have at least 125000 start-ups by women and Dalits, Modi said.
In his speech, Modi also promised to improve the lot of farmers and people in the Eastern parts of the country, and electricity to every village.
The National Democratic Alliance would fulfil its “dream of a corruption free India,” Modi said. “15 months since this government has taken over, not a single” instance of corruption has been noticed, he added. Modi attributed this to this government’s new work culture — transparent, rule-based, and time-bound.
Many people expected Modi to weigh in on the controversial and emotional One Rank One Pension issue. “The issue has been going on for a long-time. I reassure our soldiers that the government is committed to implement it in principle. The final round of talks are on and we will fulfil our promise,” he said.