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Business News/ News / India/  PM talks Atmanirbhar Bharat, National Digital Health Mission, Ayodhya on I-Day

PM talks Atmanirbhar Bharat, National Digital Health Mission, Ayodhya on I-Day

PM spells out India’s geo-strategic playbook without naming China. Reaches out to migrants, farmers, health workers
  • PM talks about the delimitation process in Jammu & Kashmir, says hopeful that elections would take place soon
  • Pitching for a ‘‘One Nation, One Agriculture Market’, PM Modi batted for the recently announced changes in the agriculture sector that allows farmers to sell their produce outside the wholesale markets. (PTI)Premium
    Pitching for a ‘‘One Nation, One Agriculture Market’, PM Modi batted for the recently announced changes in the agriculture sector that allows farmers to sell their produce outside the wholesale markets. (PTI)

    NEW DELHI: From training 1 lakh National Cadet Corps cadets from border and coastal districts to boosting domestic manufacturing as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi covered the gamut of India’s geo-political spectrum and its challenges in his seventh Independence Day speech.

    While addressing the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, PM Modi launched the National Digital Health Mission; wherein every test, illness, prescribed medicine and report will be available under one health identification. The data will reside at individual hospital servers, with a citizen’s consent required to share it.

    The Centre is also reconsidering the minimum age of marriage for girls in India, Modi said during his address to the nation on India’s 74th Independence Day. While the last five years were focused on fulfilling requirements, the next five years will be about fulfilling aspirations, he added.

    Modi said that the government has readied a roadmap to bring a covid-19 vaccine for all Indians in the shortest possible time and three vaccines are in various phases of clinical trials in India.

    He said that India was countering the twin threats of terrorism and expansionism—a comment on the double challenge posed simultaneously by Pakistan and China. Without naming China, he said respect for India’s sovereignty is supreme and to uphold this oath, what India and its brave soldiers can do has been witnessed by the world in Ladakh.

    The statement comes after five rounds of talks at the level of senior commanders and three rounds of talks between diplomats have not yet been able to find a solution to the tensions between the two countries that spiked in May after multiple intrusions by Chinese troops in Ladakh. Tensions were exacerbated by the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops in a violent clash in Galwan valley on 15 June. These were the first such casualties between India and China in 45 years.

    From the Line of Control (LOC) to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), whoever has challenged India’ sovereignty, the army has responded in the same language, PM Modi said.

    Given the geographic importance of certain islands and their importance in the country’s development, work is ongoing for starting new schemes, Modi said while announcing that Lakshadweep islands will be connected with the mainland within 1,000 days with submarine optical fibre cable.

    The announcement follows the inauguration of the submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connecting Chennai and Port Blair on 10 August and assumes significance as better infrastructure will help India secure its territory and protect its trade routes even as China aims to expand its naval reach. India’s only tri-service command is established in A&N at the entrance to the Malacca Strait, the world’s busiest shipping route and a potential chokepoint for China’s energy supplies.

    Hinting at India’s playbook in the Indo-Pacific region—a large swathe of land and sea stretching all the way from the west coast of the US to the shores of east Africa, Modi said that India is engaging with its neighbouring countries, whether connected through land or sea, through development and belief.

    He added that the ASEAN countries who also happen to be our maritime neighbours, hold a special importance for India.

    The statement comes in the backdrop of China and ASEAN countries having competing claims over the South China Sea and islands in the region. The rising geopolitical tensions with China has also seen New Delhi move closer to the so-called “Quad" grouping with the US, Australia and Japan.

    Modi also said that one-third of new NCC cadets to receive special training by the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force will be daughters in 173 border and coastal districts, and spoke about India’s plan to shortly come out with a new cyber security policy. He said that the threats emanating from cyber space had the potential to impact on India’s society, economy and development, while announcing that all 600,000 Indian villages will be connected with the optical fibre network.

    The comments come against the backdrop of increasing cyber threats and psychological warfare emanating from countries like Pakistan and China.

    India has been grappling with the issue of cyber attacks and data breach in the last few months. In June, CERT-In, India’s nodal agency on cybersecurity, had also issued an advisory on a massive phishing attack on India.

    The PM’s address, attended by top Indian dignitaries and cabinet ministers along with the international diplomatic corp at the historic Red Fort, also comes against the backdrop of job losses and the Indian economy staring at an abyss. After a bounce back in June, economic recovery in July came under pressure as the pandemic spread rapidly in Eastern and Southern India, forcing local authorities to put fresh mobility restrictions, thus disrupting business activities.

    Modi on Saturday said becoming self-reliant for a large country like India is inevitable for its own prosperity and global good and the country needs to strengthen itself to contribute more to the world economy. He said that India cannot keep exporting raw materials and importing finished goods in return.

    “When we talk about self-reliance, we don’t mean only to reduce imports," he added. Calling for making “Vocal for local" India’s life mantra, Modi said import of certain goods kills the skillsets available in India.

    As part of its economic squeeze on China, India has made it compulsory for purchase preference to be given to local suppliers, and has also imposed restrictions on imports of colour television sets after barring Chinese apps and cancelling railway, road and electricity smart meter tenders secured by Chinese firms.

    Speaking for the first time after the ground breaking ceremony in Ayodhya for the construction of Ram temple, Modi said that people had shown moderation and sensibility and there was peaceful resolution of the issues.

    “Country made history, it saw history being made and unusual work getting accomplished. Ten days ago the beginning of construction of Ram Mandir started in Ayodhya. A peaceful resolution was found for centuries old issue of Ram Janmabhoomi. The way people showed moderation and sensibility, that conduct was unprecedented. It is a reason of inspiration for all of us," Modi added.

    The construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya has occupied a significant mind space in the BJP’s election manifestos for three decades.

    In a politically significant statement, Modi said in his speech that the developments that have taken place in the two Union territories—Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir—were inspirational. Speaking about Jammu & Kashmir, he said that the delimitation process was on and he was hopeful that elections would take place soon after that and elected representatives were chosen.

    With push to an empowerment narrative, Modi on Saturday reached out to common citizens by talking about everyday issues which affects them including health, pollution, economy, infrastructure and basic amenities.

    In a significant move, Modi also underlined the Union government’s focus on middle class households and putting the 110 most backward districts at the centre of its growth agenda. He said that it is the middle class which has a multiplier effect on economy.

    Reaching out to farmers, Modi said on Friday that the idea of self-reliant India cannot be achieved without the contribution that farmers and agriculture sector makes. Pitching for a ‘‘One Nation, One Agriculture Market’, Modi batted for the recently announced changes in the agriculture sector that allows farmers to sell their produce outside the wholesale markets run by Agricultural Produce Market Committees and said it would bring them at par with other entrepreneurs.

    The government has faced criticism for overlooking the plight of migrants who have been worst hit by the lockdown. The covid-19 pandemic hit India’s poor the hardest as locked factories and other workplaces rendered them jobless. The sudden lockdown announcement to prevent the spread of the pandemic caught these workers unaware and they found it impossible to make ends meet in the absence of any safety net.

    Modi added that there is a need to give a ‘new direction’ to the overall infrastructure development of the country and for this integration of key modes of transportation—road, rail, airplanes, waterways—is crucial.

    Modi said that it is important to break the era of ‘working in silos’ in infrastructure. Towards this, the government working towards to connect the entire country with multi-modal infrastructure, which uses different modes of transportation to facilitate transportation of goods, thereby cutting travel time and making the system more efficient.

    He further said that Indian will spend more than 110 trillion on infrastructure in the next five years, under the national infrastructure pipeline. The finance ministry has already identified 7,000 projects across various sectors to create social and economic infrastructure. The government plans to roll out an ambitious infrastructure push of more than 110 trillion infrastructure over the next five years.

    The new National Education Policy (NEP) will play a key role in making India self reliant, Modi added, as 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat' became a constant reference in his Independence Day Speech.

    India unveiled a new NEP on 29 July by incorporating several education reforms in both school and university level including exam reforms and focus on foundational learning and an aim to make all higher educational Institute autonomous by 2035.

    Prashant K. Nanda, Shreya Nandy, Pretika Khanna, Asit Ranjan Mishra, Elizabeth Roche, Anuja, Gyan Varma, Gireesh Chandra Prasad, Neetu Chandra Sharma & Utpal Bhaskar contributed to the story.

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    Updated: 15 Aug 2020, 11:40 AM IST
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