Indian PM Modi pledges to develop nation on 75th Independence Day

More than 7,000 guests attend event at Red Fort in Delhi, where leader extols 'strength in unity'

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday pledged to help further develop the country over the next 25 years, during his address to the nation on its 75th Independence Day.

Wearing traditional white headgear with stripes in the colours of the Indian flag, Mr Modi, 71 gave his address from the ramparts of the historic 17th-century Red Fort in the capital Delhi.

He congratulated the citizens of the country on 75 years of independence, after two-century-long British colonial rule.

“During our freedom struggle, there was not one year when our freedom fighters did not face brutality and cruelty,” Mr Modi said.

"Today is the day when, as we pay them our respects, we need to remember their vision and dream for India.”

Mr Modi paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who led the campaign for India's independence, at the Raj Ghat memorial, before addressing the nation.

More than 7,000 guests attended the event and over 10,000 armed security personnel guarded the monument.

Indian-made howitzers were used for the first time for the ceremonial 21-gun salute.

The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System developed by India’s defence research organisation DRDO is the flagship product of Mr Modi's Make in India campaign.

Mr Modi listed five pledges to make the country a developed nation, with a focus on “bigger resolves”, erasing all traces of “servitude”, being proud of legacy, strength of unity and duties of citizens.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects a guard of honour before addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, during celebrations to Independence Day in Delhi AFP

He also spoke about the country's women, emphasising the need to support “nari Shakti” — or woman power.

“It's important that in speech and conduct, we do nothing that lowers the dignity of women. A distortion has crept in our conduct and we at times insult women … Respect for women is an important pillar for India's growth,” he added.

Mr Modi also spoke about ending corruption and dynastic politics, describing them as the two “biggest challenges” to the country’s development.

He is known for his long-held opinion against dynastic politics — a euphemism he uses for the opposition Congress Party. Six members of the Nehru–Gandhi family have been presidents of Congress.

Mr Modi has called dynastic politics dangerous for democracy.

“Where people are fighting poverty, we need to fight against corruption with all our might. Corruption and nepotism might come in the way of what the country should achieve in the next 25 years,” he said.

The government is hosting a year-long Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to celebrate India’s 75th year of Independence. It celebrates Indians who have played a key role in the country’s journey and those who can help India progress further.

Mr Modi also launched a Har Ghar Tiranga campaign — encouraging citizens to hoist the national flag at their homes for three days.

Congratulatory messages poured in from around the world.

US President Joe Biden called Delhi and Washington “indispensable partners”.

“As people around the world, including nearly four million proud Indian-Americans, celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence on August 15, the United States joins the people of India to honour its democratic journey, guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring message of truth and non-violence,” Mr Biden said.

Updated: August 15, 2022, 4:25 PM
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