Following are the highlights from his speech

 

  1. Compliments to my dear countrymen on the momentous occasion of completion of 75 years of independence. Many congratulations to all! It is heartening to see our tricolour being unfurled with pride, honour and glory, not only at all the corners of India, but also worldwide by our Indians who love their country immensely.
  2. All the countrymen are deeply indebted to Pujya Bapu, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Veer Savarkar, who devoted all their life on the path of duty towards the nation. The path of obligation has been their sole life path.
  3. This country is grateful to Mangal Pandey, Tantya Tope, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaq Ulla Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil and countless such revolutionaries of ours who shook the foundations of British rule. This nation is grateful to those brave women, be it Rani Lakshmibai, Jhalkari Bai, Durga Bhabhi, Rani Gaidinliu, Rani Chennamma, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Velu Nachiyar, who showed the mettle of women power of India.
  4. Today is an opportunity to pay homage to countless such great men like Dr. Rajendra Prasad ji, Nehru ji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Deendayal Upadhyay, Jai Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Nanaji Deshmukh, Subramania Bharati who fought the war of independence and built the country after independence.
  5. When we talk about the freedom struggle, we cannot forget to take pride of our tribal society living in forests. There are countless names like Bhagwan Birsa Munda, Sidhu-Kanhu, Alluri Sitarama Raju, Govind Guru, who became the voice of freedom movement and inspired my tribal brothers and sisters, mothers and youth in the remotest jungles to live and die for the motherland. It has been the good fortune of the country that there have been many aspects of the freedom struggle.
  6. From the last year, we are witnessing how the country is celebrating the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’. It all began with Dandi Yatra in 2021. The people held programs in every district, every corner of India to enlarge the scope of goals of the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ of Independence. This was perhaps for the first time in history that such a huge and comprehensive festival for a single purpose was celebrated. 
  7. An attempt was made in every corner of India to remember all those great men who did not find mention in history for some reasons or who were forgotten.  Today, the nation found out all such heroes and great men from every corner of the country and paid tributes to them for their sacrifices. It was an opportunity to pay tributes to all these great men during the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’.
  8. Today, as we are celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is an opportunity to recall the contributions made by those who dedicated their lives for the country during the last 75 years, those who protected the country and fulfilled the country’s resolutions; be it the army personnel, police personnel, bureaucrats, public representatives, administrators of the local self-government, state administration or central administration. Today we must also recall the contributions made by the crores of citizens of the country who have done everything possible to take the country forward despite various challenges in 75 years.
  9. This journey of 75 years has been full of ups and downs. Amidst good and bad times our countrymen have made various achievements; they have made efforts and have not given up. They didn’t let the resolutions to get lost.
  10. The world was not cognizant that India has an inherent potential of strong culture and values, a bond of thoughts deeply embedded in mind and soul; and that is – that India is a mother of all democracy. And when those who have democracy pulsating in their mind walk with determination and resolve, it augurs doom for the most powerful sultanates of the world. This Mother of Democracy, our India has proven to all that we have this invaluable strength.
  11. In the journey of 75 years, in the midst of hopes, aspirations, ups and downs, it is with everyone’s effort that we could reach thus far. And when in 2014, my countrymen gave me this responsibility, I was the first Indian born in free India, who got the privilege to sing praises of glory to my dear countrymen from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort.
  12. From the farthest of latitudes and longitudes of India-east or west, north or south, ocean beds or Himalayan peaks, I have left no stone unturned to reach the corners and fulfil Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of inclusion. I have committed myself to his vision of empowering and uplifting the person sitting at the last mile.
  13.  We are embarking on the glorious years of 75 years today on AMRIT MAHOTSAV. On the first morn of 76th year, I am filled with pride to see such an immensely endowed nation.
  14. Every citizen of the country wants to change things, wants to see things change, but is not ready to wait. He wants these things to happen in front of his eyes and wants to do it as part of his duty.  And I believe whether it is the central government, state governments, institutions of local self-government, no matter what kind of governance system, everyone has to address this aspirational society and we cannot wait longer for their aspirations.
  15. Our aspiration society has waited for a long time. But now they are not ready to force their future generations to live in wait and hence the first dawn of this ‘Amrit Kaal’ has brought a huge golden opportunity for us to fulfil the aspirations of that aspiration society.
  16. Recently, we have seen and experienced one or two such forces and that is the collective consciousness renaissance in India. I think that this awakening of consciousness, this renaissance, is our greatest asset.  Until 10th August, people would not even be aware of the power within the country. But for the last three days, the way the country has set about celebrating the journey of the Tricolour, even the leading experts of social science can't imagine the power within my country which has been shown by the Tricolour.
  17. The world is looking at India proudly and with anticipation. The world has started searching for solutions to the problems on the soil of India. This change in the world, this change in the thinking of the world, is the result of our experienced journey of 75 years.
  18. The world has started realising where the power to fulfil the expectations actually lies. I see it as a feminine power. I see it as triple power or tri-shakti, i.e. aspiration, re-awakening and the world’s expectations. We are aware that to fulfil it, today, my countrymen have a major role in awakening this trust of the world in India.
  19. 130 crore countrymen after several decades of experience have shown the world the importance of a stable government, the power of political stability, policies and how trust develops in the policies. The world too is now able to understand it. And now when there is political stability, dynamism in policies, speed in decision making, ubiquity and universal trust, then everyone becomes a partner in development.
  20. We started our journey with the mantra of  Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, but gradually the countrymen have added more colours to it with Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas. So, we have seen our collective power and collective potential.
  21. Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is being celebrated with the campaign to build 75 Amrit Sarovars in every district today. People from every village are joining the campaign and offering their services. With their own efforts, the people are running a massive campaign for water conservation in their respective villages.
  22. Today, I am talking about the strength of 130 crore countrymen, witnessing their dreams and feeling their resolutions from the ramparts of Red Fort, I believe we must focus our attention on the “Panch Pran” for the coming 25 years. You have to concentrate on your resolves and strength. And we must take up the responsibility of fulfilling all the dreams of the freedom fighters by embracing those Panch Pran by 2047 when the country celebrates 100 years of independence.
  23. The Panch Pran of Amrit Kaal- Goal of developed India, to remove any trace of colonial mindset, take pride in our roots, unity and sense of duty among citizens.
  24. The need of the hour is cooperative competitive federalism. Let there be a healthy spirit of competition among the states on progressing in different sectors.
  25. When, I first spoke about cleanliness during my first speech, the entire country embraced it. Everyone moved towards cleanliness as per his capacity and there is now antipathy towards filthiness. This is the country which has done it, is doing it and will continue to do so in future also. Freedom from open defecation has become possible in India today.
  26. When the world was in a dilemma, this is the country which crossed the target of 200 crore vaccinations in a time-bound manner and broke all the previous records.
  27. We are dependent on the fuel from the Gulf. We had decided how to move towards bio-oil. The 10 percent ethanol blending seemed like a very big dream. Old experiences showed that it was not possible, but the country has realized this dream of 10 percent ethanol blending before time.
  28. Providing electricity connection to 2.5 crore people in such a short time was not a small task, but the country has done it. Today the country is rapidly providing water from tap to the homes of lakhs of families.
  29. Experience tells us that we can achieve our goals once we are determined. Be it the goal of renewable energy, the intention of building new medical colleges in the country or creating a workforce of doctors, the pace has increased a lot in every field.
  30. Brothers, how long will the world continue to distribute certificates to us? How long will we live on the certificates of the world? Shall we not set our own standards? Can a country of 130 crores not make an effort to exceed its standards? Under no circumstances should we try to look like others. It should be our temperament to grow with our own potential. We want freedom from slavery. The element of slavery should not remain in our mind even under the distant seven seas.
  31. I look with hope the way the new National Education Policy has been formulated with a lot of brainstorming, with the exchange of ideas from various people and is at the root of the country’s education policy. The skill that we have emphasized is such a power, which will give us the strength to be free from slavery.
  32. We have seen that sometimes our talent gets tied in the bondage of hope. This is the result of slave mentality. We should be proud of every language of our country. We may or may not know the language, but we should be proud that it is the language of my country and it is the language given to the world by our ancestors.
  33. Today we are witnessing the structure of Digital India. We are looking at start-ups. Who are these people? This is that pool of talent who lives in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, or in villages and belongs to poor families. These are our youngsters who are coming before the world today with new discoveries.
  34. Today the world is discussing about holistic health care. But when it talks about holistic health care, it looks towards India’s yoga, India’s Ayurveda and India’s holistic lifestyle. This is our legacy that we are providing to the world.
  35. The world is being influenced by it today. Now look at our strength. We are the people who know how to live with nature. Coarse paddy and millets are household items. This is our heritage. Due to the hard work of our small farmers, paddy flourished in small pieces of land. Today the world is moving ahead to celebrate the millet year at the international level. That means our heritage is being appreciated around the world today. Let us learn to be proud of it. We have a lot to offer to the world.
  36. We are the people who see the divine in the plants. We are the people who consider the river as mother. We are those people who see Shankar in every stone. This is our power. We see every river as a form of mother. Such enormity of the environment is our pride! When we are proud of such heritage, the world too will feel proud of it.
  37. Today the world is facing a severe crisis due to conflicts caused by the attitude of one upmanship- the reason of all tensions. We have the wisdom to resolve this. Our scholars have said “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti” meaning that absolute Truth is one but it is manifested differently. This is our glory.
  1. We are the people who have seen the welfare of the world; we have been on the path of social good not only for our people but the whole world by believing in “sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ, sarve santu nirāmayāḥ”. It is ingrained in our values that we will pray that may all be prosperous and happy, may all be free from illness, may all see what is auspicious, and may no one suffer.
  2. In the same way, another very important issue is Unity and solidarity. We need to celebrate the diversity of our huge country. The peaceful co-existence of innumerable traditions and creeds are our pride. For us all are equal. No one is inferior or superior; all are our own. This feeling of oneness is important for unity.
  1. My brothers and sisters, from this rampart of Red Fort, I also want to share an agony.  What I wish to share is that it hurts me to say that we have witnessed a perversion in our day to day speaking, behaviour. We have been casually using expletives and cuss words which are abusive and against our women. Can we not pledge to get rid of every behaviour, culture that humiliates and demeans women in our daily life? 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.
  2. It is the job of the government to make efforts to provide 24 hours electricity, but it is the duty of the citizen to save as many units as he can. It is the responsibility and efforts of the government to supply water to every field, but a voice should come from each of my fields that we will move forward by saving water by focusing on 'per drop more crop'. It is our duty to do chemical free farming, organic farming and natural farming.
  3. Friends, whether it is police or people, ruler or administrator, no one can be untouched by this civic duty. If everyone performs the duties of a citizen, I am sure that we can achieve the desired goals ahead of time.
  4. Today is also the birth anniversary of Maharishi Aurobindo. I bow at the feet of that great man. But we need to remember the great man who gave a call for ‘Swadeshi to Swaraj’ and ‘Swaraj to Suraj’. This is his mantra. And, therefore, ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ becomes the responsibility of every citizen, every government and every unit of society. ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ is not a government agenda or a government programme. This is a mass movement of society, which we have to take forward.
  5. My friends, today we heard this sound after 75 years of independence for which our ears were yearning to hear. For the first time after 75 years, the Made in India cannon has saluted the Tricolor from the Red Fort. Will there be any Indian who will not be inspired by this sound?
  6. My dear brothers and sisters, today I want to congratulate the soldiers of the army of my country from my heart. I salute the way the army jawans have shouldered this responsibility of self-reliance in an organized way and with courage.  The resolution of our country is not small when the armed forces make a list and decide not to import 300 defence products.
  7. Speaking of the PLI scheme, people from around the world are coming to India to try their luck. They are bringing new technology along with them. They are generating new employment opportunities. India is becoming a manufacturing hub. It is building a foundation for a Self-reliant India.
  8. Be it manufacturing of electronic goods or mobile phones, today the country is progressing at a very fast pace. Which Indian wouldn’t be proud when our Brahmos is exported to the world? Today the Vande Bharat train and our metro coaches are becoming objects of attraction for the world.
  9. We have to become self-reliant in the energy sector. How long will we be dependent on others in the field of energy? We should be self-reliant in the field of solar energy, wind energy, various renewable energy sources and must lead in terms of Mission Hydrogen, bio fuel and electric vehicles.
  10. Today natural farming is also a way of becoming self-reliant. Today the factories of Nano Fertilizer have brought a new hope in the country. But natural farming and chemical-free farming can give a boost to self-reliance. Today, new employment opportunities in the form of green jobs are opening up very fast in the country.
  11. India has opened up space through its policies. India has come up with the most progressive policy regarding drones in the world. We have opened up new doors of opportunities for the youth of the country.
  12. I also call upon the private sector to come forward. We have to dominate the world. One of the dreams of a self-reliant India is to ensure that India does not lag behind in fulfilling the needs of the world. Even if it is the MSMEs, we have to take our products to the world with Zero Defect, Zero Effect. We have to be proud of Swadeshi.
  13. Till today we always remember our revered Lal Bahadur Shastri ji for his inspirational clarion call of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan meaning “Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer. Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji added a new link of Jai Vigyan which meant “hail science” and we gave it utmost importance. But in this new phase Amritkal now it is imperative to add jai Anusandhaan that is “hail innovation”. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhaan
  14. Today we are all set to enter the 5G era. You don’t have to wait too long before we match the global steps. We are ensuring that optical fiber reaches each and every village until the last mile. I am fully informed that the dream of Digital India will be attained through the rural India. Today I am happy that four lakh Common Service Centers of India are being developed in villages which are being managed by the youth of that village.
  1. This Digital India movement of developing semiconductors, entering 5G era, spreading the network of optical fibers is not just to establish ourselves as modern and developed, but it is possible because of three intrinsic missions. The complete transformation of education eco-system, revolution in health infrastructure and improvement in quality of lifestyles of the citizens will be possible only through digitalization.
  1. Friends, I can foresee that India will march ahead phenomenally in this decade which is hailed as the tech-age for humanity. It is a decade of technology. In the field of IT, India has become a force to reckon with globally. We have the competencies to contribute in this tech-age.
  1. Our Atal Innovation Mission, our incubation centers, our startups are developing a whole new sector, opening up new opportunities for the younger generation. Whether it is a matter of space mission, whether it is about our Deep Ocean Mission, whether we want to go deep into the ocean or we have to touch the sky, these are new areas, by which we are moving forward.
  2. We must acknowledge and strengthen the potential of our small farmers, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, cottage industries, micro industries, street vendors, domestic labourers, daily wagers, auto rickshaw drivers, bus service providers etc. These form the largest population who need to be empowered.
  1. I want to say something from the experience of the last few years. You must have seen the power of ‘Nari Shakti’ in courts who are working in the field of judiciary. Look at the public representatives in the rural area. Our ‘Nari Shakti’ is devotedly engaged in solving the problems of our villages. Look at the field of knowledge or science, the ‘Nari Shakti’ of our country is visible. Even in the police force, our ‘Nari Shakti’ is taking the responsibility of protecting the people.
  1. In every walk of life, whether it is the playground or the battlefield, the ‘Nari Shakti’ of India is coming forward with a new strength and a new belief. I can see the manifold contribution of ‘Nari Shakti’, my mothers, sisters and daughters, in the next 25 years compared to the contribution in the 75 years of India’s journey. The more we pay attention to this aspect, the more opportunities and facilities we provide to our daughters, they will return us much more than that. They will take the country to a new height.
  1. There are many states of our country, which have played a great role in taking the country forward, have led and worked as examples in many fields. This gives strength to our federalism. But today the need of the hour is that we need cooperative federalism as well as cooperative competitive federalism. We need competition for development.
  2. I do not want to discuss everything but would definitely want to focus on two issues. One is corruption and the other is nepotism. We have to fight against corruption with all our might. In the last eight years, we have been successful in working for the betterment of the country by saving two lakh crore rupees which used to go into the wrong hands, using all the modern systems like Direct Benefit Transfer, Aadhaar and Mobile.
  1. Those who fled the country after looting banks during the tenure of previous government, we have seized their property and are trying to get them back. Some have been forced to go behind the bars. We are trying to ensure that those who looted the country are compelled to return.
  2. Brothers and sisters, the corrupt are eating away the country like termites. I have to fight against it, intensify the fight and have to take it to a decisive point. So, my 130 crore countrymen, please bless me and support me! Today I have come to seek your support and cooperation so that I can fight this battle. I hope the country becomes victorious in this war.
  1. It is truly a sad state of affairs that even after conviction in corruption cases in court of law or those who were jailed for such cases, some people stoop so low even to glorify them. Therefore, till there is a feeling of hatred against corrupt ones in society, this kind of mindset is not going to end.
  2. On the other hand, I want to discuss about nepotism and when I talk about nepotism, people think, I am only talking about nepotism in politics, but the reality is that this malaise has spread into all institutions of the country, which adversely affects the talent and opportunities. I, therefore, appeal to the people of the country from the ramparts of the Red Fort to take a pledge under the tricolor to root out the menace the nepotism for purification of India’s politics and all intuitions of the country in the true spirit of Indian Constitution.
  3. I urge the countrymen to start the ‘Amrit Kaal’ today by nurturing new possibilities, realizing new resolutions and moving ahead with confidence. The “Amrit Mahotsav’ of freedom has moved in the direction of ‘Amrit Kaal’ and, therefore, ‘Sabka Prayas’ (everyone’s efforts) is necessary in this ‘Amrit Kaal’. The spirit of Team India is going to take the country forward. This Team India of 130 crore countrymen will realize all the dreams by moving forward as a team.
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PM Modi's Interview to The Economic Times
May 22, 2024

Q) Prime minister, the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign was strongly anchored in the fight against corruption. In 2019, it was the 'labharthi' model reaching every segment of society, besides the national security imperative that took centre stage. The 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign was expected to be pitched on 'vikas' and 'Viksit Bharat'. But it seems to have turned communal and polarising, your thoughts?

A: Perhaps, you find it polarising because you have not examined the crux of the matter. What is truly communal and polarising is Congress party's manifesto, their issues and their intent. It is my duty to expose them. Just because I am exposing them, you think it is polarising. You noted it correctly that in 2014, corruption was the main issue. In 2019, it was labarthis. In 2024, the main issue is Viksit Bharat. People across the country know that this is an important election which will ensure that we reach Viksit Bharat at the speed of the country's aspirations.

I must point out the difference between the scale of ambition of our government as compared to the UPA government. In 2014, the then finance minister said that India will become the third largest economy in 2043. In our case, we are already the fifth largest economy and will become the third largest economy in our third term. We will be at least 15 years ahead of their promise.

In this election, anti-corruption voter is with us and so is the labarthi voter. Along with it, a large section of the society which wants India to progress rapidly is also firmly backing us, which will ensure us getting a huge mandate on June 4.

Q. Prime minister, you have started a political debate on which section has or should have the 'first right' to national resources. Which segment should have the 'first right' and how would you identify this segment?

A: I have said it before and I am saying it again: the first right to national resources belongs to the poor. Everything we do, every policy we make, has the welfare of the poor at the heart of it. We are committed to ensuring that the fruits of development reach every poor person, regardless of their caste, community or region. Over the last decade, we have focused on a policy of saturation, ensuring that government schemes reach 100% of beneficiaries.

For example, if a village has 20 homes, is it fair that only 15 homes receive all the benefits? No. We are ensuring that all 20 homes are empowered, leaving no one behind. We are moving forward with this motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.

Q. 428 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies have already voted. How is BJP score currently looking against the '400 paar' target? Has BJP crossed the 272-mark?

A: Doing such analysis is the job of experts. However, I have clear signal from the people on the ground that we have crossed the majority mark and the momentum is only getting stronger with each phase.

Everywhere I have gone in the past few weeks, I have received a lot of love, support and enthusiasm for BJP.

On the voting day, our polling booths are brimming with activity. In contrast, the atmosphere on the Opposition side is very grim and hopeless. It shows that we are well on our track to achieve a historic victory in the elections. People also realise this and hence they won't waste their vote on Congress and its allies which have already lost the elections. Hence in the remaining two phases, we will see even greater support for NDA.

Q. Which are the states you expect to score better than 2019?

A: In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, I am confident that BJP will win with a historic mandate. With the support we are getting from people in all states to make India a developed nation, I can confidently say that our vote share will increase everywhere. This time, we have set a more ambitious target: it's not just about winning seats, but about winning each polling booth. Every one of our karyakartas is focused on the strategy of winning the polling station.

I believe we will repeat our strong performance in the states where we won big in 2014 and 2019. South India and east India will bring record new gains. This time, we will vastly improve our performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha. The so-called 'red corridor' will turn entirely saffron this election. Even Uttar Pradesh will see a rise in our seats.

The overwhelming will of the people across India is to bring us back with a historic mandate because they have seen how a strong, decisive and sensitive government has secured the nation and strengthened its position in the world. They are fed up with corruption, dynastic politics, minority appeasement and the mismanagement of states under Opposition governments. That's why they want the NDA again.

The stock markets have been volatile of late amid FII selling while some market participants attribute this to uncertainty around election results. Do you think markets will respond positively post-election results?
Our government has undertaken maximum reforms and managed the economy with fiscal prudence.

The trust the stock market places in us is evident in its remarkable performance over the past decade. When we took office, the Sensex was around 25,000 points. Today, it stands at around 75,000 points, reflecting a historic rise. Recently, we reached a whopping $5 trillion market cap for the first time ever!

Over the past 10 years, if you just take a look at the number of Demat accounts, you will understand how citizens have started to show confidence in Indian economy. The number of Demat accounts has increased from just 2.3 crore to over 15 crore now. The number of mutual fund investors has increased from 1 crore in 2014 to 4.5 crore today. As a result, we have a broader base of domestic investment. Domestic investors have become more active and vibrant and are playing a more substantial role in our markets than ever before. This is a clear indication of the financialisation of savings that has occurred in the last 10 years.

Our investors are well aware of the pro-market reforms we have implemented. These reforms have created a robust and transparent financial ecosystem, making it easier for every Indian to participate in the stock markets. I can say with confidence that on June 4, as BJP hits record numbers, the stock market will also hit new record highs.

Q. What your government calls a fight against corruption is criticised by the Opposition as targeted investigation by enforcement agencies. How do you respond to this?

A: The thing to note here is that even these people are not denying their own corruption. They are not saying that we are not corrupt or we have been falsely implicated. The only thing they are saying is that they are being targeted. So yes, we are targeting all corrupt. I have no hesitation in saying that. Think about it. Last year, hundreds of crores of cash was discovered from a Congress MP in Jharkhand. Dozens of people had to use multiple note counting machines for days to count the mountains of cash. Recently, Rs 25 crore was found from the house of the assistant of a Congress leader. We all saw the piles of cash and the gold bars that ED discovered in a TMC leader's flat. What does this tell us? It tells us that our agencies are on the right track.

Besides, in all the corruption cases investigated by ED, only 3% involve politicians. The remaining 97% involve officials and criminals. This proves that ED and CBI are not acting with political bias. Additionally, before 2014, ED only seized assets worth Rs 5,000 crore, but in the last 10 years, that amount has exceeded ₹1 trillion. These findings show that our investigative agencies are doing their job well. Therefore, it is important to let these agencies work without interference.

These accusations from the Opposition seem to come from a fear of being caught and having their corruption exposed. The fact is that INDI Alliance is a bloc that has been formed to protect each other's corruption, and the money that they looted from the citizens is there for everyone to see each time a corruption scandal is exposed.

Back in 2019, I told the people that your vote has brought corrupt to the doorstep of jail. Your next vote will ensure that they are put behind bars, and I delivered on that promise. This government has taken steps to systematically root out corruption since day 1. Earlier, it was such that out of every rupee meant for the people, only 15 paise reached them. Today, I can proudly say that when a rupee is sent out, the full 100 paise reaches the intended recipients through DBTs. How? Because this government leveraged technology to tackle corruption. We introduced the concept of e-governance, simplified procedures and made India go digital and cashless. We have come a long way in our fight against corruption, and in my third term, it will continue with even greater vigour.

Q. How do you rate your party's chances in Odisha after alliance talks did not fructify? You have often held Naveen Patnaik in high regard among all CMs. But what are your views as you challenge him in the state in a bid to prevent him from securing another term?

A: Over the last few days, I had the privilege of interacting with the wonderful people of Odisha across many rallies. Among the Odia people, especially the youth, women, tribals and farmers, I see a great upsurge of hope and aspiration towards the development-oriented politics of BJP. I am convinced that a big transformation is happening in the electoral landscape of the state, not only at the Lok Sabha level but also at the assembly level.

Odisha is a state that has a lot of untapped potential. It has talented young people and can be a much bigger player in the world of technology and startups. It has hardworking farmers and good natural resources. With an encouraging government, farmers of Odisha will make it an agricultural hub in the country. Odisha is a treasure trove of literature, history, heritage, art and architecture. It has all the elements to make it a much sought-after tourist destination, which can create a number of opportunities for the youth.

Similarly, the state also has a vibrant coastline which helps trade and fisheries. But sadly, many of these sectors have been neglected over the years because of BJD's lethargy and lack of vision. The people of Odisha understand that only BJP can make a difference because they have seen the ten-year track record of our government at the Centre. They have seen how our schemes are designed and implemented with the people's empowerment as their focus. Whether it is foodgrain, gas connections, bank accounts, toilets or tap water connections, these are reaching the people and bringing a transformation in their lives. So, they trust those who actually deliver a better life to them.

Further, BJP is not new to Odisha. We have always got great support in the state, including putting up a strong performance in past Lok Sabha polls.

Q. When we talk states, alliances in Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu have come under strain ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Your thoughts?

A: See, you are focusing on a few parties who are no more part of NDA. In those cases, we have gone with our principles, the wishes of the people and our cadre. We are also sure that we will do well in the elections nevertheless. But what you mentioned is not the complete picture. Across India, there have been many states where we have added so many new partners into the NDA fold. You mentioned Tamil Nadu. In the state, NDA has about 10 or more parties.

There are states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and many others where we have added new allies over the last few weeks or months. If you look at the larger picture, we have added more parties and our alliance also has momentum on its side. So, I see this as a positive trend that more and more parties want to be with our vision for progress and the people are also supporting us.

Q. India has good relations and strong strategic, economic ties with Israel as well as Iran besides most other gulf nations. How do you see the West Asia crisis impacting us? Do you foresee a bigger role for India in this conflict?

A:The crisis in West Asia is deeply concerning, especially in terms of the human cost of it. India has strong relations with many countries in West Asia. Even if some of these nations find themselves on the opposite side of each other, we have equally healthy relations with each of them. I also have a deep bond with the leaders of many of these nations and am moved by their gestures of friendship. I had sent a special envoy to urge for ensuring a cease-fire during the month of Ramzan. So, along with others, we too are doing our bit for global peace. We have always conveyed to these nations that we are totally on the side of peace and progress. We have always stressed upon the perspective that dialogue is the way forward. And we will continue to do so.

Q. You have been saying India is at a turning point, ready for a quantum leap. What are factors in India's favour and strengths that you intend to leverage to leapfrog?

A: I have said earlier that demography, democracy, demand are with India. These factors were there earlier too but the way we have empowered these crucial factors with our mantra of reform, perform, transform has made an important difference.

The demographic sweet spot that India is in has not been seen in the past and will not be seen in future. To complement it, we have put the nation in an economic sweet spot. We have given an era of historic reforms across various sectors.

Be it banking, foreign direct investment, compliances, corporate taxation, income taxes or even fiscal policy, our reforms have spanned across various sectors.

As a result, from Fragile Five we have reached Top Five Economies. We have been the fastest growing economy for many years now. We have also received record foreign direct investment (FDI) over the years.

All this has resulted in an environment where investment, industry and innovation can thrive, benefiting our talented youngsters in terms of the number of opportunities being created across sectors.

Further, look at the impact of our welfare initiatives. Whether it is bank accounts, toilets, tap water, electricity or health insurance, these facilities are reaching those who were deprived of them for decades.

This helped 25 crore people rise above poverty, creating a neo-middle class that is hopeful and aspirational. These people are driving new patterns of income generation and demand, powering the wheels of the economy even further.

At the same time, India is undergoing rapid digital transformation, with increasing internet penetration and a booming tech and startup industry. Whether it is Digital India or DBT (direct benefit transfer) or digital payments, they are creating a new wave of innovation and empowerment.

And when it comes to physical and social infrastructure, the speed and scale at which we have worked is unprecedented. If the number of our airports has doubled, so has the number of medical colleges.

While we have added thousands of kilometres of national highways, we have also added hundreds of schools, colleges and universities.

These efforts have created momentum for capital and human capital.

Further, India's strategic positioning in the world enhances our trade and diplomatic engagements. As a trusted member of various international forums and trade agreements, India is well-placed to leverage global markets and attract international partnerships.

Many experts across the world are saying this is India's time, India's decade and India's century. Whether it is space or solar energy, sports or startups, the world is seeing India arrive on the global stage across sectors.

More importantly, every Indian, believes this is India's time. This self-belief is like the icing on top of all the strides that our country has taken in the last few years.

Q. What in your vision constitutes 'Viksit Bharat', its contours and parameters?

A: Viksit Bharat is a nation where no one is too small to dream and no dream is too big to achieve. Viksit Bharat is a nation where social circumstances or birth do not limit anyone's growth. Everyone, no matter who they are, can aspire to reach the heights of success.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with sustained high growth, strong manufacturing, services, agriculture and technology. It is a nation where economic growth is inclusive, where poverty is a thing of the past.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where there are high-quality jobs driven by innovation, entrepreneurship and skill development. Viksit Bharat is a nation with a fully digitised economy, widespread high-speed internet access and transparent e-governance services.

Viksit Bharat is a nation which is a hub of research and development, fostering a thriving ecosystem for science and technology.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with world-class transportation networks, renewable energy systems, and smart urban development.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where there is seamless rural-urban connectivity for balanced regional growth.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where high-quality healthcare is affordable, accessible and available to everyone.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with an education system emphasising quality, accessibility, native languages, fostering critical thinking, creativity and lifelong learning.

Viksit Bharat means having comprehensive social welfare systems ensuring the well-being of the elderly, Divyang, and marginalised communities.

Viksit Bharat means commitment to green growth through renewable energy, conservation of natural resources and a reduced carbon footprint.

In the last 10 years, we have been working proactively across all these sectors. The foundation we have laid will help us achieve great heights by 2047.

Q. Creating enough jobs for India's youth is the biggest challenge facing the economy. Do you think high growth will address the issue, or something more is needed? What's the road ahead? What contribution is expected from the private sector?

A: Today, India is blessed with a demographic dividend. Along with this blessing, it is very important to ensure that the youth get opportunities. Today, India's growth momentum, vibrancy and optimism comes from the fact that our youth have these new opportunities and are making the most of them.

Look at the startup sector, for example. We went from just a few startups in 2014 to nearly 1.37 lakh in 2024. We have 100+ unicorns today, and we're the third largest startup economy in the world.

Similarly, in R&D, we're leading the way. Startups themselves have registered over 12,000 patents. And last year, a record 90,300 patent applications were received. India's youth, empowered with opportunities and innovation under this government, have become the driving force behind the nation's remarkable growth trajectory.

While we understand that high growth is important for creating enough opportunities, we are not satisfied with just that. We are actively bringing in reforms. We are looking towards the future and creating future jobs.

We are opening up new sectors, encouraging entrepreneurship, improving access to credit and improving government jobs.

India's digital economy has grown 2.4 times faster than the economy between 2014 and 2019, creating around 6 crore jobs.

Our gig economy is also thriving and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, with over 20% engaged in highly skilled jobs.

With just MUDRA loans, over crores of new businesses have been started and India's entrepreneurial energy unleashed.

I have been regularly attending rozgar melas to interact with our youth. The central government alone has ensured that lakhs of youth receive their recruitment letters through the melas.

Look at the indicators which prove the job generation. The returns filed by individual taxpayers more than doubled from 3.36 crore in 2013-14 to 8.18 crore in 2023-24. EPFO payroll data shows that over 6 crore new EPFO subscribers have been added in the last seven years, indicating a surge in youth employment. PLFS data shows that between 2017 and 2023, the participation rate of the worker population ratio has increased to over 56%, and unemployment is at a historic low of 3.2%.

In the last 10 years, we have not just stressed and worked on the creation of jobs, but also invested our efforts in nurturing and creating job creators.

Q. Jammu & Kashmir has stabilised after the revocation of Article 370. You talked about holding elections in the Union Territory, the Supreme Court too has spoken similarly. What is your assessment on carrying out the next steps?

A: You are right that the region has stabilised after August 2019. The elections in Jammu and Kashmir are an important milestone in its history. The record voter turnout in is one of the most gratifying things I have seen in my tenure.

The people of the region have seen our constant and honest efforts to strengthen democracy. Be it Srinagar or Baramulla, people have expressed great confidence in the electoral process and optimism for the future.

The progress that Jammu and Kashmir has made in the last five years is proof that we are on the right path. We will ensure that these gains become deep-rooted and irreversible.

We are very clear in our intent. We are committed to restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Supreme Court has set a date for assembly elections in the region. The Election Commission will take a call on the right time for the assembly elections.

Q. Are you satisfied with the way the defence sector has responded to your call for 'atmanirbharta', to reduce dependency on imports? What more can be done by the government and other stakeholders?

A: During the Covid era, the world realised the importance of self-reliance. Although we were already making progress in this direction, we used the time of pandemic to push this cause with significant momentum.

For years, we used to rely on the world for even small items. Not only did it create dependencies but it also caused loss of precious foreign exchange.

We used the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to create a mindset change to promote self-reliance as well as to create conducive conditions for manufacturing in India. The results and the trajectory of growth have been quite satisfying.

Let us start with vaccine manufacturing. There was a time when India took 20 years to procure polio vaccines and vaccination took another 40 years. We took 32 years for TB vaccination! Today India has produced not one or two but four vaccines. And not only that, we exported it to more than 100 countries. And we also ran the world's largest vaccination programme.

Similarly, previously there was zero production of PPE kits. But during Covid, we witnessed large-scale manufacturing.

In defence sector, we struggled to even produce bulletproof jackets for our soldiers. Today Indian defence exports include helicopters, patrol vessels, coastal surveillance systems and high-end defence equipments to more than 20 countries. And we are exporting bullet proof jackets to more than 100 countries. We are also emerging as a global hub for the production of helicopters. Our defence exports have touched a record high of more than 21,000 crore.

There was a time when India had only two mobile manufacturing units and over 90% of the mobiles were imported. Today 200+ units are manufacturing mobile phones and almost all the mobile phones used are made in India. We are the now second largest exporters of mobile phones in the world.

There were times when the potential of toy manufacturing and local artisans was overlooked. Today local artisans are making for the world. Their talent is getting recognised world over. There has been a decline in toy imports by 52% and rise in exports by 239% since 2014.

We are also focusing on semiconductor manufacturing and are taking rapid strides in this direction.

My vision for Aatmanirbhar Bharat aims to position India as a global manufacturing and innovation hub. I believe India, with its demographic dividend, democracy and demand, has the potential not only to meet its own needs but also those of the world. I firmly believe that Aatmanirbhar Bharat will not just fuel India's growth but will also propel global growth.

Following is the clipping of the interview:

 

 

 Source: The Economic Times