Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed the nation from the majestic Red Fort on the occasion of India's 74th Independence Day.
In the one-hour 26-minute speech, he focused on the themes of "Aatma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India)", "Vocal for local" and "Make in India to Make for World". He also paid tribute to those on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus and declared that India had a roadmap ready for the production and distribution of three COVID-19 vaccines that are at various stages of testing.
This is PM Modi's seventh consecutive Independence Day speech, and second since his BJP-led NDA swept to a second term in power in Lok Sabha elections last year.
In view of the situation, the general public have not been invited to the event. Instead, 1,500 corona warriors, including 500 police personnel who have recovered from the infection, were called to attend the function in a symbol of the citizens' determination to fight the pandemic and emerge winners.
Here are the highlights of PM Modi's address from Red Fort On 74th Independence Day:
My fellow Indians, my best wishes to you all on Independence Day. Today, we are breathing in a free India because of hundreds of thousands of our freedom fighters and today's security forces, be it the army, the police or other security forces.
We are passing through strange times. I don't see children here at the Red Fort because of the pandemic we are facing. We need to take adequate precautions.
On behalf of the entire nation, I want to thank the efforts of all corona warriors. All those healthcare workers, doctors and nurses, who have worked tirelessly to serve the nation. Many have even lost their lives. The nation salutes them.
The day of freedom and Independence is a day we remember the sacrifice of all our freedom fighters. It is a day which brings joy and hope to us all.
As we celebrate the 74th Independence Day, we look forward to the important milestone ahead - our 75th year of Independence, and as we lead up to it, it brings new energy and determination to take the nation forward. When we reach that milestone, we shall celebrate in a grand manner.
India faced centuries of foreign rule. All efforts were made to destroy our nation, our culture, our traditions, but they underestimated our self-belief and determination. We lived through it all and emerged victorious in the end.
Those who were busy finding new places to put their flags, who wanted to expand their empire underestimated us. The world saw two world wars and so many nations faced immense destruction, but we rose through it all... our freedom struggle was seen by the world.
PM Modi on atma-nirbhar India
Today, we focus on taking India to new heights, to build a new India - an atma-nirbhar (self-reliant) India. India will most certainly achieve this. History is evidence to the fact that when India is determined to achieve something, it has always done so.
A self-reliant India has now become the mantra for 130 crore Indians. I believe in the nation, its people, our belief, our young citizens. We believe in Vasudev Kutumbakam - The entire world is one family.
We need to be self-reliant in the farm sector. India has recently removed all restrictions from the agriculture and farming sector. This will benefit our farmer brothers and sisters immensely.
Today, we have opened up our space sector to the private sector. When India's space sector grows, our neighbours and the world benefits from it too.
I admit that there are lakhs of challenges for India to become atma-nirbhar (self reliant), and yes, there is fierce competition from the rest of the world. But I always say that if India faces lakhs of challenges, it also has 130 crore solutions.
We have seen that when we put our mind to it, we can achieve anything. We never made PPE Kits, our production of masks and ventilators was meagre... but today we are making it all.
As we move towards our 75th year of Independence, the entire nation must take a pledge to make 'vocal for local' the mantra of the nation.
Over the last year, with an 18% rise, FDI (foreign direct investments) have broken all past records. It is commendable that even as the world battles COVID-19, investments are pouring into India. It tells us that the world sees our potential and has hope from a rising India.
Our foremost priority is to bring the nation out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is restricting us from operating freely.
On infrastructure development
For India to grow at a very fast pace, we have focused on comprehensive, multi-modal infrastructure development. No longer are we segregating rail, from road, ports from airports. We have clubbed them to have a holistic approach to infrastructure development.
About 7,000 projects of different sectors have been identified to bring new revolution in infrastructure.
Be it electricity for all, gas connections for all, bank accounts for all, toilets in all homes, public sanitation for all, ration to reach all irrespective where they are, the world's largest health cover of up to 5 lakhs for many, connecting villages with the internet, bringing technology to small business and ration shops, giving benefits and freedom to farmers - all of it is being done at a rapid pace, and in an inclusive manner.
As said earlier, we are working to double farmers' income. Some of you may not know this, but unlike any other business, where a business man has the freedom to sell their product or service in any part of the country or the world and at a price they want, our farmers, till recently, did not have that freedom. They could only sell to who they were told to sell to. Now, we have removed these restrictions, and given farmers the freedom to sell at the best price, and to who they want to.
We are also working on our goal towards Jal Jeevan Mission through which potable drinking water will be made available in every tap in every home. All Indians must have pure drinking water available in their taps. We are working on this on a very large scale, covering every village and every district across the nation.
A home for every Indian is another area of focus towards which we are working. Every Indian should have a roof over their head, and that is a promise that we will deliver in the next few years. We are building homes for the poor and those who have a meagre income.
New education policy/Digital India/Women empowerment
We have recently introduced a new education policy. This will shape the India of the 21st century. We will soon have citizens who shape a new India - ones who are global citizens, but know and understand their roots. The new education policy has also focused on research and development to make India a key R&D destination for the world.
Today, we are adapting to technology at a faster pace than ever before. The nation has accepted new methods of transactions - digital transactions have already crossed Rs. 3 lakh crore. In the next 1,000 days, villages across the country will have optical fibre connections available.
Today, women walk shoulder-to-shoulder with men. Today we have women officers and soldiers in the armed forces. Be it doctors, engineers, bankers, IT professionals, women are contributing to India's growth in a big way.
This government is constantly concerned about the health of daughters and sisters. Through 6,000 Janaushudi centres, about 5 crore women have got sanitary pads at Re 1. Also, for their weddings, we have made committees so that the money can be used at the right time.
COVID-19 vaccine/Health sector
Scientists are working hard for coronavirus vaccine. Three Indian vaccines are in different testing stages.
Once it is closer to getting final clearances, we will announce a roadmap which we have ready for distribution.
National Digital Health Mission
The healthcare sector is another that we are focusing on. Today, we are launching a National Digital Health Mission. This will bring a new revolution in the health sector. It will be completely technology-based.
Every Indian will get a Health ID card. Every time you visit a doctor or a pharmacy, everything will be logged in this health card in your profile on a national scale.
One Health ID will have the information of every test, every disease, which medicine was prescribed to you by which doctor, what the reports were.
I want to thank all the sarpanches across Jammu and Kashmir, who are putting in a great effort to ensure development reaches everyone in the union territory and it progresses along with the rest of the country.
Ladakh too is seeing a lot of work done. Ladakh is leading the way and is focusing on becoming carbon-neutral. Just as Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state, efforts are being made to make Ladakh a carbon neutral region. We are working actively with residents of Ladakh in taking new and innovative ways of development.
What India can do, world has seen it in Ladakh. Respect for India's sovereignty is supreme for us.
Be it terrorism or expansionism, India is standing up to both and defeating it. From LoC to LAC, whenever India has been challenged, our soldiers have given a fitting response in a language they understand.
Today the world stands with India, and to get 184 votes out of 192 nations in the UN for a (non-permanent) seat at the UN Security Council is a testament of it.
Climate Change is of great concern to us, and we are focusing on clean energy and solar power to take us forward and ensure that our per capita carbon footprint is reduced.
We are working on mission mode to ensure that pollution levels across India drop significantly.
Today, how India can defend itself is something the entire world has seen us do in Ladakh.
On relations with neighbouring countries
For India, neighbours are not only ones we share a border with, but all those who have a bonding of the heart with us.
Today, India has close relations in the greater neighbourhood. We are working together and have a lot of mutual respect for each other.
ASEAN nations not just have a great partnership with us today, but have shared values and cultures for centuries.
Today to become atma-nirbhar in defence production is a top priority.
Now, from pistols and guns to tanks and fighter jets like the Tejas, from artillery guns to missiles, everything will be made in India.
Optical fibre cable networks
Before 2014, only five dozen panchayats were connected with optical fibre. In the last five years, 1.5 lakh gram panchayats have been connected.
In the coming 1,000 days, every village in the country will be connected. India is not just the mainland and the northeast, but also thousands of islands.
Recently, we launched a submarine fibre optic cable to connect Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the rest of India digitally. This will bring high-speed internet and other benefits to residents in those islands.
In next 1,000 days, Lakshadweep will also be connected with high-speed internet.
On Ram Temple
Today, Indians have chosen to be united. Peace and respect for each other is what defines us as a nation.
Recently, the Ayodhya dispute was resolved in a peaceful and legal manner. A grand Ram temple is now being built at Lord Ram's janmasthan (birth place).