Mumbai/New Delhi: The 72nd Independence Day, which coincided with August 15, 2018, was on Wednesday celebrated all across India with traditional fervor which ignited among the citizens a spirit of patriotism and nationalism.
Besides government offices, bank buildings, colleges and schools where officials and students participated in special ceremonies organised to celebrate the National Festival, the Indian Tricolour was also hoisted at many chowks and charvahs in different parts of the country.
In some parts of the country Tiranga Yatra was also taken out on the occasion. In Malegaon, Hindu and Muslim youths riding on motorcycles joined the Tiranga Yatra which took the rounds of main roads of the city. People standing on two sides of the roads greeted the Tiranga Yatra.
Earlier, the Additional Collector of Malegaon led the flag hoisting ceremony at Malegaon Eidgah ground, also used as Police Parade Ground, in the Camp area of the city. SDM Malegaon Ajay More, Tahsildar Malegaon Jyoti Deore and top police officers and school students along with dignitaries of the city wer present for the ceremony.
Flag hoisting cermonies were also organised in Madaris of Malegaon. At Jamiat-e-Ulema office in Malegaon where the flag hoisting ceremony was also organised, patriotic songs played using loudpeakers since morning.
In Madaris and schools, students delivered speeches to commemorate the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters and pledged to work for the betterment of the country.
In various state capitals including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Patna, Lukcnow, Bhopal, Jaipur and Kolkata, state chief ministers led the flag hoisting ceremonies. In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of the iconic Mughal era Red Fort.
In his last Independence Day speech before Lok Sabha elections, Modi presented a picture of rising India under his government, contrasting it with what he termed as "policy paralysis" under the UPA, as he announced the launch date of his signature healthcare scheme covering 50 crore Indians.
Delivering his fifth speech after the NDA came to power in 2014, Modi also announced permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces and a plan to send Indian astronauts into space by 2022.
"When 125 crore people move towards achieving a goal, there is nothing that cannot happen. In 2014, the people of the country did not just stop at forming the government. They moved together towards nation-building and are continuing to do so," he said.
In the nearly 80-minute speech, Modi devoted much of the time in presenting the report card of his government and also touched on a host of burning issues including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, crime against women, legislation on instant triple talaq and state of the farm sector.
Accused by the opposition of running a pro-business and pro-rich dispensation, Modi dwelt at length about his government's initiatives to improve the lives of the poor and the backward sections of the society and claimed that five crore people have been lifted out of poverty in the last two years.
Showcasing achievements of his government, Modi said negative reports about India, delayed reforms, fragile economy and red tape were the terms often used for the country under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) while it is being looked at as multi-trillion dollar economy offering red carpet welcome to investors.
"India was earlier a sleeping elephant which has woken up now and started running," said Modi, who was wearing a saffron and red Rajasthani-style turban. On Kashmir, the prime ministers said, "We will move forward by embracing people and not by bullet and abuse (Goli and Gaali)."
One of the big announcements Modi made was rollout of the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme, described as the world's largest healthcare measure, on September 25, the birth anniversary of BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay. He said the scheme will initially cover nearly 50 crore people from 10 crore families.
Referring to recent incidents of rape, the Prime Minister said the law is supreme, and asserted that the society must be free from this "demonic" mindset. He hailed a recent judgement by a fast-track court in Madhya Pradesh to hang a rape convict. He made no specific mention of recent cases of lynching -- another hot button topic being debated in the country.
Modi also highlighted his government's efforts to protect the interests of Dalits and backward classes -- the two communities being wooed by the ruling BJP ahead of the crucial elections -- and said the recent Parliament session was totally dedicated to social justice.
Modi also vowed not to spare corrupt and black money hoarders, saying efforts of his government have freed corridors of power from brokers, enhanced the number of taxpayers and saved Rs 90,000 crore by eliminating bogus beneficiaries of many schemes.
Modi also thanked honest taxpayers for their contribution in the development of the country, which is now the world's sixth largest economy. Listing measures that have brought the untaxed in the tax net, he said the number of income taxpayers has increased to 6.75 crore from 3.5-4 crore before 2014.
Modi also said the government is committed to a law banning the practice of instant triple talaq and blamed "some people", an apparent reference to opposition parties, for stalling its passage in parliament.
Modi ended his speech with a call for housing, power, cooking gas, sanitation, health, connectivity and water for all and said his government is working with this mantra. [With PTI inputs]
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