As the nation awoke to the 71st year of its Independence, people tuned in to listen to the address of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the historic Red Fort in Delhi. In his 57 minute speech which began at about 7:30 AM in the morning, the Prime Minister touched on a wide variety subjects, some of which grabbed more attention than others.
He began his speech by remembering all those Indians who had sacrificed and suffered hardships. He expressed grief about the ongoing floods in Gujarat, Assam and also condoling the deaths of the children in the Gorakhpur tragedy. He also urged the Indians to change their outlook and rid themselves of the chalta hai attitude.
Then things started to get a bit interesting. Modi decided to take a soft approach to Kashmir by stating that Gaali and goli will not bring about change in J&K and claimed that change would come after embracing every Kashmiri. He though in the same breath reiterated that there was no question of going soft on terrorism. This soft stance incidentally was very similar to the one Rajnath Singh adopted in the aftermath of the attack of Amarnath Yatra due to which he was heavily criticised.
Modi also brought in the subject of black money, corruption and reiterated that his government was committed towards eliminating them. He also painted demonetisation as a success by claiming that they had uncovered over Rs 2 lakh in black money post it and cancelled the registration of about 1.75 lakh companies.
He also possibly ruffled a few politically correct feathers by bringing in the issue of Triple Talaq in his speech. He hailed the women who were fighting the draconian practice and stated that the whole nation was with them in their fight to get their rights. This was his statement:
I pay my regards to the women who had to lead a pitiable life due to ‘triple talaq’ and have started a movement which has created an environment in the entire country against the practice
Incidentally he didn’t elaborate over whether his government would bring in a law to outlaw the practice or move towards the much publicised Uniform Civil Code.
In his speech he denounced violence in the name of faith and also urged 1.25 crore Indians to work for a new India bereft of terrorism, castiesm and regionalism. He also pitched various schemes his government has been working on. He concluded his speech with passionate chants of Vande Mataram, Jai Hind and Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
Overall Modi looked like maintaining a balanced tone to covered all aspects of the Indian society. It remains to be seen as to what tone he takes next year, which will be his last Independence Day speech before the 2019 elections and which would set the tone for the crucial election campaign to come.