Moving from Swarajya to Surajya:
Prime Minister Modi
On the occasion of India’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic speech from the ramparts of Red Fort has got global attention, particularly for his mention of how Pakistan is creating a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Balochistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan in the name of counter-insurgency. Stating that the people of these regions are thanking him for taking up their cause, the Prime Minister, in a way, has responded to Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise Kashmir, when in its own backyard it was committing heinous crimes in the name of counter-insurgency.
Taking on terrorism, including state-sponsored, Prime Minister Modi placed two perspectives in the address. One on how humanity is the driving factor for one set of people, while there is another kind who reward terrorism. Mentioning the brutal killing of innocent children in a school in Peshawar, the Prime Minister said the terror strike had moved him and Indians. “Innocent children became victims of the bloodbath; the temple of learning had blood strewn all around; innocent children were slaughtered.” While the terror strike on innocent children ached the hearts of Indians, in Pakistan there were those who glorified terrorists, thus striking a contrast between good and evil.
Questioning on what type of‘ terrorisminspired’ life they were leading and what type of ‘terrorism-inspired governments’ existed, the Prime Minister was clearly pointing to state-sponsored terrorism. The world, he said, would understand these two differences. “For the past few days the people of Baluchistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, have heartily thanked me and they have shown goodwill, a land which I have not seen, the people I have not met.” He was highlighting the difference between humanity and terrorism to the world at large.
The Prime Minister also took up the issue of internal security and came down heavily upon Maoists and other extremists who indulged in killings. “Nowadays a game of killing innocents is being played out, on the pretext of Maoism in forests, on the pretext of extremism at border, on the pretext of terrorism in hilly areas by carrying guns on shoulders.” Even after 40 years of bloodshed, these extremists had not realised that they have not achieved anything, they have not understood that violence is not the answer to development. Sternly warning those who strayed into such militancy, Prime Minister Modi said violence of any kind will not be tolerated and certainly not terrorism. “The country will not bow down to terrorism, nor will it succumb to Maoism.” Exhorting youth to give up such thoughts, he struck an emotional chord talking about dreams that parents would have for their wards. Appealing to the youth to return to mainstream life, Prime Minister Modi said: “Live a happy and peaceful life, for the path of violence never fetches benefit to anyone.”
Praising the army personnel who ‘live and die for the country’, he said his government acknowledged their immense role and never delayed in resolving their issues, including the ‘One Rank One Pension’ imbroglio. Over 33,000 personnel had got martyrdom since Independence and India cannot forget their sacrifice. In a way the Prime Minister was saying that it was time to go beyond lip sympathy and get things done for those who protected our borders, those who maintained law and order, and those who ensured internal security, while dealing severely with those who indulged in extremism.
The underpinning of his speech was for citizens to take the nation from ‘swarajya’ to ‘surajya’ to bring about a qualitative and positive change in their lives. The government’s mantra was to reform, transform and perform, he said and added that the image of the nation was more important than the image of the government or the party. And that the government was focused on substance over symbolism; integrated development over isolated development and empowerment over entitlement. The Prime Minister listed out the various achievements across a broad spectrum of life and said there was more to be done.