Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on India’s 70th Independence Day on Monday said the focus of his government was to change the lives of the common people and that it has already improved the quality of governance dramatically.
“When I talk about surajya (good governance) ... the meaning is to bring changes in the life of the common man,” he said.
Delivering his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi talked about his government’s achievement and added that it also needs to increase the pace of its work.
India must scale newer heights
The energy in India can help it to scale newer heights of progress, Modi said.
“Today on this special day, I convey my greetings to 125 crore Indians and the Indian community living overseas. May this energy guide the nation to scale newer heights of progress in the years to come.”
India faces “lakhs of problems” but it also has 125 crore brains that are capable of overcoming them.
Fear of taxation
Modi said the middle class is more scared of income tax officials than the police, adding that his government will change this.
“There was a time an honest citizen would pay tax, but once the money went into the government’s coffers, refunds would take months,” the PM said referring to refunds of tax deducted at source.
“In fact, while income tax refunds used to take forever earlier, it takes no more than three weeks today,” he said.
1.45 crore passports in a year
Modi said while it took six to eight months to get a passport, it just takes a couple of weeks now even though around two crore people apply for it annually now compared to 40-50 lakh application earlier.
The government issued 1.45 crore passports in 2015-16, Modi said.
People do not need any recommendation now to secure passports, he added.
“We have also connected 70 crore Indians to Aadhaar and social security schemes,” he said in his address.
He said his government had taken decisions to help people make online bookings to visit hospitals.
Citing the example of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, he said similar changes had been brought about in 40 major hospitals across the country.
Similarly, now, in just one minute, it had become possible to generate as many as 15,000 railway tickets, he said.
Modi added that saving energy was a focus of his government and pledged to distribute 77 crore electricity efficient LED lights in the country. The Prime Minister said renewable sources were his government’s focus, notably solar and wind.
“These 70 crore LED bulbs can save 20,000 MW of electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore.”
“I do not want to ask where all that money used to go (during the previous governments). I am happy to inform you that we have distributed 13 crore such bulbs.”
He added that LED bulbs, which were sold for as high as Rs 350 each, are now being distributed by his government for Rs 50 each now.
“I urge you all to use LED bulbs, save energy and take part in helping our nation,” Modi said.
Modi said when he took power in 2014, more than 18,000 villages in India did not have electricity.
“When we came to power, we decided they must get electricity within a thousand days. Not even half the time has passed and 10,000 villages have got already electricity,” he said.
To reach electricity to the remote corners of the country, 50,000 km of transmission lines were being erected now as opposed to 30,000-35,000 km earlier.
“Electricity has already reached 10,000 villages out of the 18,000 unelectrified villages.
“After 60 years of freedom, only 14 crore LPG (cooking gas) connections were added. But we have added more than 4 crore new connections in just 60 weeks.”
Modi backs new CPI target
Modi gave his backing to a new inflation target, saying his government had brought down consumer price growth from double digits under the last government.
Delivering his third Independence Day address, Modi backed the 4% inflation target, within a range of 2 percentage points either way, that had been agreed with outgoing Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan.
The government formally “notified” the medium-term inflation target just before Rajan held his final policy meeting on August 9. Figures last Friday showed inflation nudging over 6%, outside the target range.