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Text of PM's speech

Last updated on: August 15, 2003 17:18 IST

This the the text of prime minister's Independence Day speech:

Dear countrymen,

My hearty greetings to all of you on the sacred occasion of our Independence Day.

Each year, on this day, we gather at the Red Fort and unfurl our beloved Tricolor. The Tricolor is a symbol of our freedom, of our self-respect, and of sacrifices and martyrdoms.

People belonging to the older generations would certainly remember the time when young boys and girls would form themselves into small groups, take the flag in their hands, and go around villages and city streets singing Vijayi Vishwa Tiranga Pyara, Jhanda Uncha Rahe Hamara (may our beloved and victorious Tricolour fly high in the world).

Today, we bow our heads in homage to the memory of all the leaders, fighters and martyrs of our freedom struggle. My greetings to all the leaders, fighters and martyrs of our freedom struggle.

My greetings to all the jawans of the three Armed forces and to the security personnel. We gratefully remember those brave soldiers who laid down their lives while guarding our frontiers or in the battle against terrorism.

This year the festival of freedom has arrived bringing the message of good rains in most parts of the country. We hope that the areas, which have not yet received adequate rainfall, would do so.

The last year went by in grappling with the crisis of drought. We assisted all the drought-hit areas to the fullest extent, sent adequate foodgrains there and ensured that there was no hunger anywhere. We also took care of the mute cattle.

Felicitations to our farmers, who with their hard work, have filled the granaries in the Country.

Felicitations to our industrious workers, skilled managers and far-sighted businessmen, whose successes have attracted the attention of the entire world. Today, India's economy has grown to be the fourth largest in the world.

Greetings to all scientists, teachers, litterateurs, artistes and to dear children.

Felicitations to all the people of Indian origin living abroad. They have made a remarkable contribution to raising India's stature in the world. We are proud of them.

Today, we give our salutations to mother India, whose children we all are. Whatever be our religion, caste, region, or language, we all are one. This unity is our strength.

We should cherish the diversity that underpins this unity. But we must, under all circumstances and at any cost, keep our national unity and integrity intact. This is the most important message of Independence Day.

Sisters and brothers, this is the sixth consecutive time that I have been speaking to you from the ramparts of this historic Red Fort. This has been possible only because of your affection and support.

The dream of India as a great nation, which we had seen during the Freedom Struggle, continues to inspire us even today. To some extent, this dream has been realised. Yet, a lot more remains to be accomplished.

Despite all the hardships, and braving all the challenges in this 56 years, India is standing in the world with her head held high.

The nation's security is supreme to us. India cannot be dependent on others for her security. Therefore, the first act
of my government five years ago was to make India, for her self-defense, a nuclear weapons state.

The world is changing. New challenges are emerging before us. We have to make India stronger both economically and
socially.

In the past five years, India's prestige in the world has gone up, thanks to our pro-active foreign policy. The international community's way of looking at us has undergone a
big change. The world is now recognizing India:

# As the world's largest democracy;
# As an emerging global economic power;
# As the confluence of a modern nation and an ancient
civilization;
# As a powerful country, dedicated to the ideal of peace.

Sisters and brothers, it is our policy to establish
friendly and cooperative relations with all our neighbors. We
believe in resolving all disputes peacefully. Our frequent
initiatives to normalize relations with Pakistan are not a
sign of our weekness; rather, they are an indication of our
commitment to peace.

In recent months, there has been some progress in
normalizing relations with Pakistan. Nevertheless, terrorist
activities are still continuing. The test of our neighbor's
sincerity lies in whether he is prepared to stop cross-border
terrorism totally.

We hope that Pakistan abjures its anti-India outlook.
The people of both countries wish to live in peace.

I have been telling our Pakistan friends that we have
spent 50 years fighting. How much more blood is yet to be
spilt? The two of us need to fight against poverty, against
unemployment and against backwardness.

We should increase trade and economic links between our
two countries. When we share a two-thousand kilometers long
border, it makes no sense for us to trade via a third
country.

Let people travel to and fro. Let more and more elected
representatives visit each other's country. Let us expand
bilateral cultural relations.

Let us open some new doors, new windows, and new
light-holes in the walls that divide us.

The love that the two-year-old girl Noor from Lahore
received in India carries a message, which our friends in
Pakistan should understand.

On the occasion of Independence Day of both our
countries, I invite Pakistan to walk together with India on
the road to peace. This road is decidedly bumpy. There are
even mines strewn along this path. Yet, once we start
walking, we will find the hurdles getting out of our way.

I had gone to Srinagar a few months back. I'm going
there again at the end of this month. The atmosphere there is
changing.

Last year, from the ramparts of this very Red Fort, I
had declared that elections in the state would be held on
time, and that they would be free and fair. Not everybody
believed in it then. But, we fulfilled our promise.

The free elections there have yet again demonstrated the
fact that the people of Kashmir have rebuffed terrorism from
across the border.

The people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have faith in
democracy. They want peace. They would like to see happiness
return to their lives.

Those people who, while talking about Kashmir, advocate
the right to self-determination, wish to divide India on
communal lines for the second time. They will not be allowed
to succeed in this.

This year, more than one lakh tourists went to Kashmir.
There was a large turnout of pilgrims going on the Amarnath
Yatra. Nearly six thousand students from different parts of
India are today studying in Kashmir. Next week, we shall
launch mobile telephone services in the state.

The knotty issues in Jammu and Kashmir can be unraveled
only through dialogue. We shall take forward the efforts that
have been initiated in this direction. People who have been
uprooted have to be resettled in their homes.

Dear countrymen, the progress that India has made in
recent years has given me new hope and confidence.

An India, which was used to borrowing from abroad has
started lending to others.

An India that was perennially troubled by a paucity of
foreign exchange, has today accumulated nearly US $ 100
billion of foreign exchange reserves.

The prices of essential commodities are under control.
There is no shortage of anything in the market.

Poverty is declining. It is our resolve to eradicate it
faster.

There are no waiting lists now for telephone or gas
connections. The number of mobile phone users has gone up
from 8 lakh to 1.5 crore. In the coming year, 1.5 crore more
mobile customers will be added.

We are all aware of the poor condition of our roads.
Even 50 years after independence, there were nearly two
lakh villages which were unconnected by proper roads. For
the first time, the Centre has started the Pradhan Mantri
Gram Sadak Yojana to connect them with good roads.

In the first five decades of independence, only 550
kilometers of four-lane highways were built. In other words,
only 11 kilometers a year. Now, we will build 24,000
kilometers of highways at the rate of 11 kilometers a day.

The Rs 54,000-crore National Highways Development
Project is progressing rapidly. Three lakh people working on
it everyday. Next year, this number will go up to six lakh per
day.

Lakhs of young Indians have got attractive employment in
the field of computers. Sitting in our cities, they are
providing services to hospitals, factories and offices in
America and Europe. Software exports have zoomed from Rs 8,000
crore to nearly Rs 50,000 crore.

Our country is now ready to fly high in the field of
science. I am pleased to announce that India will send her
own spacecraft to the moon by 2008. It is being named
'Chandrayaan'.

We have increased the amount of lending to agriculture
and related sectors. Interest rates have been reduced. We
shall soon constitute a National Kisan Commission to encourage
new experiments in farming, promote investments in
agriculture, and to study the various problems faced by our
kisans.

The Green Revolution and the White Revolution of previous
decades have impacted much strength to Indian agriculture. Now
India needs a new revolution -- the Food Chain Revolution. Its
aim is to achieve a doubling of the average income of the
Indian farmer by 2010. An important part of this revolution is
to reduce wastage of foodgrains, fruits and vegetables worth
thousands of crores each year.

Based on the success of Kisan Credit Cards we have
decided to provide credit card facility to all elegible
artisans, weavers and fishermen. The rate of interest on
loans given to them will be reduced to 9 percent a year. A
contributory insurance scheme will also be started for their
benefit.

Under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, 1.5 crore poorest
families in the country are being given 35 kilos of foodgrains
each month at the rate of Rs 2 a kilo of wheat and Rs 3 a kilo
of rice. Never before were foodgrains provided at such cheap
prices. This is the largest food security program in the
world.

With the launch of the Sarva Shikha Abhiyan, no child,
especially the girl child, will be deprived of primary
education. To implement this program effectively, 2.5 lakh new
teachers will be appointed this year itself.

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme for children up to class five is
going on in some states. Now, we have decided to run it
throughout the country. Later, this will be extended to
students up to class ten. This national program will be known
as 'Akshapatra'. I appeal to voluntary organizations,
religious establishments and women's self-help groups to come
forward to implement this program in an effective way.

I know what people in under-developed states have to
suffer due to the lack of good hospital services there.
Therefore, under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana,
six new hospitals with modern facilities, like those
available at AIIMS in Delhi, will be established in backward
states in the next three years.

Friends, for decades a debate with going on about a
project to link our rivers, as a way of freeing India from the
curse of floods and droughts. Now we have taking up this
challenge. I am pleased to inform you that work on two river-
linking projects, with the cooperation of state governments,
will be taken up before the end of this year. We will
mobilize necessary resources for these projects.

Never before had housing construction taken place at the
kind of speed witnessed in the past five years. Never before
were housing loans available at such low rates as now. Lakhs
of people have got employment in the housing sector.

India has limitless potential in tourism. Take the case
of this historic Red Fort itself. It has been taken up for
comprehensive restoration for the very first time in its 350
years. I can see that a beautiful garden is coming up in the
ground in front of me. It can be befittingly called the
'August 15 Park'.

I would like you too to emulate this example by
undertaking such beautiful projects for the conservation of
heritage in your own village or town.

The over-riding objective of our policy of economic
reforms is just this: We want to create a dynamic economic
that not only succeeds against global competition, but is also
caring and compassionate towards the poor and the neglected.

We express our condolences for those who have become
victims of untimely death in recent mishaps and natural
calamities.

Sisters and brother, the hands of young Indians are today
scripting India's bright future. An ancient nation with a
history of several thousand years has once again become a
Young Nation and is all set to creat a new history.

Today, in this nation of a 100 crore people 60 crore are
less than thirty years old. This generation is better educated
than any generation in the past, and more ambitious than any
generation in the past. It is a generation that has made up
its mind not to fall behind anyone in the world in this age of
competition.

Today, the doors of opportunity are opening up our young
people all over the world. These opportunities will only
increase in the coming years and decades. Therefore, we should
educate our young in science, technology and other new
disciplines from now itself.

I appeal to all, that we listen to the heartbeats of this
Young India; that we understand the dreams of this Young
India; that we encourage this Young India in every way
possible; and, that we give proper guidance to this Young
India.

Countrymen, today there is a paramount need that we
maintain peace in our society and strengthen the bonds of
brotherhood. Development requires peace, goodwill and mutual
cooperation. Those who wish to divide the society on the basis
of religion, caste or community are doing harm to the country.

India is a multi-religious nation. It is against both its
nature and culture to practice discrimination or to do
injustice to anybody on the grounds of faith. We should always
care for the minorities and be attentive towards their
welfare.

Peace talks in the North-Eastern States are yielding
positive results. The hands that took up the gun now wish to
participate in the development of their region. The
government is ready to welcome them.

Friends, it is our responsibility -- the responsibility of
the Government as well as of the society -- that we provide
equal opportunities to our brethren belonging to the
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and
make them partners in the system. To ensure that economic and
social justice fully reaches them is not only our
Constitutional duty but also our moral obligation.

We have removed the difficulties that had cropped up in
the proper implementation of the policy on reservations.
Untouchability in our society is on the decline. However, we
have to completely remove this blot.

We have established a new ministry for the development of
Adivasis. We have also set up a separate commission for them.
For the first time in fifty years, the list of Scheduled
Tribes has been revised and over a hundred new communities
have been added to the list.

Friends, after the experience so far, I have come to the
conclusion that there is an imperative need for greater
commitment and accountability in our system of governance,
which has the responsibility of implementing policies and
decisions. There is delay in government offices even for
getting right work done. Delays breed corruption.

My government is prepared to fight corruption at all
levels. We have decided to enact the Lok Pal Bill, which had
been pending for several decades. In spite of opposition from
some people, I have personally brought the prime minister
within the ambit of its investigation, so that you can  even
book your prime minister if he commits any wrong.

Stringent steps are being taken against economic
offenders.

Sisters and Brothers, the government of the National
Democratic Alliance has completed five years. All the previous
experiments in running coalition Governments at the Centre had
failed. We have succeeded.

Today, there is a tremendous hunger for development among
the people. They want such a stable government which is both
determined to improve their living conditions and also capable
of doing so.

In our polity today, there is, on the one hand, a growing
trends towards wanting to work together, but, on the other
hand, there is also a scenario of disarray.

Our states have governments of different political
parties. The Centre has established cooperative relations with
them. Political discrimination on account of ideological
differences is unacceptable to us.

The proposal to reserve 33 percent seats for women in
Parliament and State Legislatures, as a means of women's
empowerment, has now become a national resolve. Today, there
are over 10 lakh women members in our panchayats and municipal
bodies. I congratulate them for their good work.

However, it is regrettable that it has become difficult
to pass the Bill for Women's Reservation in its original
form because of a lack of consensus in Parliament.

Now a new proposal has been brought forward that seeks to
create 33 percent double-member seats, in which one of them is
reserved for women. This is a practical suggestion. All the
supporters of women's reservation should consider it with a
positive outlook. If there is any other suggestion on which a
consensus is possible, the same should be implemented. There
should be no further delay in realizing this goal, for which
our sisters have been waiting for a long time.

Dear countrymen, today the nation is standing at such a
turning point from where it can take a big leap forward. The
yearning to achieve the lofty vision of making India a
Developed Nation by 2020 is gathering strength all over the
country.

In just one generation, India can be liberated from the
curse of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. This is
not a daydream. It can be turned into reality. Many countries
in the world have demonstrated it.

Look behind a little. India has marched forward by
overcoming many a formidable crisis. Today, when the era of
resurgence has arrived, why should there be any doubt in
anyone's mind?

What is needed is only this:

That all of us move together.

That all of us move with discipline.

That we adopt a new work culture.

That we work with a long-term perspective.

When this ancient and great nation combines talent and hard work, and strives its utmost in pursuit of a common vision, it will certainly succeed in building a bright future for itself.

Nearly 40 years ago I had written a poem, from which I would like to present a few lines to you.

Together, we have to march

Obstacles will come, let them.

Dark clouds of apocalypse will gather, let them.

Even if embers smolder under our feet,

Or flames rain over our heads,

Smilingly, we shall light the fire

With our own hands, and burn,

But together, we have to march.

In laughter or in grief, in hurricanes,

In immortal sacrifices beyond count,

In greens or in ruins,

In insults or in accolades,

In pain, too,

We have to thrive

Heads held high, hearts swelled with pride.

Together, we have to march.

Thank you.

Sisters, brothers and dear children, join me in saluting:

Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!

 

 

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