Amberish Kathewad Diwanji tweaks the prime minister's Red Fort speech.
My Dear fellow citizens, sisters and brothers and dear children,
I greet you on the nation’s 67th Independence Day. It is a day of joy and celebration for every one of us.
This year, our joy is tempered by the events in Uttarakhand, where hundreds have lost their lives. We are proud of our military which stepped in to rescue those who were affected and stranded.
As usual, we needed the military to help after civil authorities and politicians damaged the environment.
I thank the army and air force for their help, but the country needs to know what caused the tragedy?
Was it just bad weather or was it our greed?
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India needs development, but this development cannot and must not endanger the environment and pose a threat to our lives. I have asked the Uttarakhand CM to look into this matter and to develop the state without destroying the Himalayas.
In Mumbai, an explosion in a submarine may have taken the lives of 18 navy men. This is a tragedy and my deepest sympathies to the families of the bereaved. The navy is probing what caused the blast and I promise that we will take all necessary steps so that such tragedies do not occur again.
Our navy has made great progress. We recently launched Arihant, our nuclear powered submarine, and have started building our own aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant. We are proud of our achievements. These achievements are not aimed at any other country, but at ensuring that India should never again be subjugated to a foreign power.
Sisters and Brothers,
We achieved Independence in 1947 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. This is the time we pay homage to our leaders of the past, and not just the Congress leaders.
Sardar Patel united our country. Pandit Nehru set our country on the path of democracy and secularism. Shastri’s leadership in the 1965 war gave us self-confidence.
Under Indira Gandhi we achieved the Green Revolution and sent a satellite into space. Morarji Desai restored our faith in democracy, and Rajiv Gandhi began our economic and technological modernisation.
We will forever remember Narasimha Rao for triggering the economic liberalisation. Liberalisation was opposed by our political opponents, yet when Vajpayeeji was in power, he pushed India into high growth on the back of liberalisation.
This shows that all Indians supported liberalisation, that liberalisation helped India.
What India needs is not less liberalisation but more liberalisation.
Today, it is true that economic growth has slowed down to 5%. As a part of the world economy, we will be affected by what happens elsewhere.
We cannot escape recession in the rest of the world. But what we will do is take brave and bold measures to push us back to 9% growth without worrying about the political consequences in the elections next year.
That is why I am asking our finance minister to unleash the next round of economic reforms. Over the next few days, we will announce measures that will take us back to the days of 9% economic growth.
The Opposition and even our allies in the UPA will oppose these steps, but I believe the people of India are intelligent to know that tough times call for tough responses.
Whether or not the UPA returns to power will be decided you all. But let it never be said that fear of elections is why we let India fall down.
Sisters and Brothers,
We have over the last many years put in place a series of measures to make India a better country. The regret is not that we are implementing them now, but that we took so long to implement them.
The Right to Education will ensure that no child is left out of school. Every PM should apologise that it took 66 years to make every child goes to school.
We have passed an ordinance towards a Food Security bill that will cover 75% of the population. Under this law, 81 crore people will be entitled to get rice at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg.
But we know that real food security will be achieved the day no Indian ever needs to avail of food under such schemes.
It is India’s tragedy that it will take a Food Security Bill to make sure that every Indian has rice and chapatti on his plate.
We have taken steps to improve governance and transparency. It is indeed shameful that politicians, who fight non-stop in Parliament, have gotten together to try and overturn the RTI ruling that political parties are to be held accountable.
I promise to the people here that my government will not allow this to happen.
The Supreme Court has barred those convicted from contesting elections. I know corrupt politicians are aghast and they want Parliament to change this law. But I won’t let this happen. Greater transparency and fewer criminals in Parliament can only strengthen our democracy.
Sisters and Brothers,
India desires friendly relations with all her neighbours. There have been incidents on the border that make us unhappy. Let me clear. We want peace and friendship. If Pakistan extends a hand, we are willing to embrace them. But if they open fire on the LoC at Poonch, we will retaliate by opening fire along the entire border. Let the Pakistani army not make the mistake of thinking our desire for peace is our weakness. It is our strength. Any further firing will entail heavy costs. Sisters and Brothers, We have come a long way, but we have much more to do. If we put aside our differences we can build an India where no one goes to bed hungry, where very child goes to school. All these can be achieved so that our children have a better future. So, dear children, repeat after me
Jai Hind, Jai Hind Jai Hind