NEW DELHI: Calling corruption and nepotism as the two main challenges India faces, PM Narendra Modi on Monday sought the people’s support to eradicate these evils even as he set five resolves (Panch Pran) to make India a developed nation by 2047 when the country will be celebrating 100 years of Independence.
In a nearly 80-minute address on the occasion of the 76th Independence Day, the PM said, “The nation should now only be setting big goals. That big goal is a developed India and nothing less.”
Seeking the “blessings” of 130 crore citizens in his efforts to tackle graft, the PM said, “The corrupt are eating away the country like termites. I have to intensify the fight, take it to a decisive point.” Slamming efforts to “glorify those who have looted the country”, the PM added, “This mindset is not going to end unless there is a feeling of ‘nafrat’ (hatred) for corruption and the corrupt and people are forced to look down upon them socially”.
In a similar manner, he cast his attack on nepotism as a “privilege versus merit” fight, and cited the recent successes in sports arena as evidence. He said India’s performance improved after steps to check favouritism. “It is not that our sons and daughters, the youth of India, were not achieving anything in the world of sports. But sadly they had been pushed out due to nepotism.”
Modi said the fight against nepotism and dynasty should not be confined to only politics. “Family bias, and nepotism has gripped many of our institutions today. This is sadly harming the immense talent pool of our country. Those who are legitimate contenders of these opportunities and are genuinely eligible get sidelined due to nepotism,” he said, adding that the talented are forced to pay bribes to get what they would have achieved on merit.
In his speech punctuated with exhortations and devoid of mentions of specific schemes,
focused on the big picture, cautioned against complacency and spelt out what he called the “Panch Pran” (five pledges)— the foremost being to make India a developed nation.
“We have to move forward with these five resolves in mind and take up the responsibility to fulfil the dreams of our freedom fighters in the next 25 years when we attain 100 years of Independence,” he said. He identified liberation from an ‘enslaved mindset’ that keeps looking outside for validation instead of developing its own standards and measuring up to it, pride in heritage and legacy, faith in unity and solidarity and a societal correction in the attitude towards women as the four other resolves the nation needs to embrace and fulfil in order to become a developed country.
The appeal for popular support for the fight against corruption came amid allegations of vendetta against political opponents and marked a clear signal that protests could not be a deterrent for investigating agencies. In fact, Modi framed the issue as ‘corrupt and influential versus the honest and poor’ duel.
“I hope the country becomes victorious in this war. The lives of the ordinary citizens have been ruined by corruption. So, I want to make sure that the ordinary citizens are once again able to live with dignity,” said Modi, the narrative being reminiscent of the one he used to build up support for demonetisation in 2016.
Highlighting the savings of Rs 2 lakh crore by his government through the digital transfer of benefits, Modi also touched upon the ambivalence in popular response towards corruption which sees people displaying “abhorrence” towards the malfeasance and at the same time, being indulgent of the corrupt. He said that hatred towards the corrupt alone will stop them from strutting around with swagger despite having been convicted.
The PM underlined his faith in cooperative federalism and the spirit of “Team India”, recalling his days as Gujarat CM when Congress led the government at the Centre. “We may have different programmes and working styles but our dreams for the nation are not different,” he said in an apparent appeal to opposition parties to work together.
“The need of the hour today is cooperative competitive federalism along with cooperative federalism. We need competition in development,” he said, adding that many states are doing good work.
Modi spoke of celebrating the country’s diversity and gender equality besides giving the call for ‘Jai Anusandhan’ for stress on research and innovation, while citing Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘Jai Vigyan’.
The PM made an emotional plea gender sensitivity and called for a behavioural change. “Women’s pride is going to be a huge asset in fulfilling the dreams of the nation. I see this power and therefore I am insistent on it … it hurts me to say that we have witnessed a perversion in our day-to-day speaking, behaviour. We have been casually using language and words that are insulting to women.”
Besides paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the PM recalled contributions of freedom fighters like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Syama Prasad Mookerjee,
and in the same breath also mentioned lesser known heroes like Bhagwan Birsa Munda, Sidhu-Kanhu, Alluri Sitarama Raju, Govind Guru, putting them virtually on the same pedestal.
He also made special reference to Narayana Guru, Swami Vivekananda, Maharishi Aurobindo and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore saying they kept awakening the consciousness of India in every corner.