The Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 68th Independence Day was refreshingly different. For starters it was passionate, heartfelt and he also broke a three-decade old tradition as he spoke without any bullet-proof shield. It was a welcome change from the templatised, monotonous and utopian speeches typical of political leaders. PM Narendra Modi’s first Independence Day speech from the national capital was as energetic and impactful like his election campaign. In an hour-long speech he spoke about issues that few of his predecessors have dared to raise. From among everything that he spoke about, there are few that have stuck in my mind – Digital India, made in India, gender equality and clean India. These if tackled as promised will pave the way for a holistic growth; these in my view will also have a positive bearing on the media industry.
“Our dream is, therefore, of "Digital India." When I talk of "Digital India,” I don't speak of the elite, it is for the poor people,” the PM said. He spoke of digitalization on two grounds - one for the citizens where the remotest of the village will be connected through broadband networks enabling online lectures, telemedicine, operating bank accounts through mobile phones; other from the governance angle where the poorest of people can demand various things from the government, fill forms, submit applications, etc. through mobile and internet technology. He said “E-governance is easy governance, effective governance and also economic governance,” stating his clear stand on making procedures transparent and quick. Our fraternity should pick this cue and be ready with content, ideas and resources for the digital space.
Lal Bahadur Shastri emphasized on agriculture, Indira Gandhi spoke of being self-reliant, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao focused on developing IT, none have given the importance to manufacturing to a degree that it deserves. It was refreshing to see Narendra Modi share his vision where manufacturing played an important part as he spoke about how we are importing electronic goods in large numbers apart from necessities like petroleum products. He further appealed, “If we move ahead with the dream of `Digital India` to manufacture electronic goods and become self-reliant at least there, how big can be the benefit for the treasury.” He also suggested young entrepreneurs to look at our import list and start manufacturing each product that we import and he also welcomed the world to come and ‘Make in India.’ “Our country is powerful. Come, I am giving you an invitation,” he proudly announced and urged businesses to create manufacturing systems that are of zero defect and zero effect (on the planet) emphasizing on efficiency with consciousness.
For me the highlight was when he spoke of the issues faced by the girl child, I confess that was the first time I admired Modi and what he spoke touched my heart. He spoke of toilets and sanitation facilities for girls. He hit the nail on its head with this point as I, a supporter of the United Nations initiative to save and promote the girl child in a country through advertising and media and project Ladli, have often observed that one of the reasons why girls don’t undertake secondary education is because many schools don’t have separate toilets for girls. I clapped when he suggested parents to ask the whereabouts of not only their daughters but their sons too. He then highlighted the issue of female foeticide and gender ratio and appealed parents and doctors to stop this horrendous crime. To prove his point he shared his experience of meeting many families where in spite of having five sons the old parents are taken care of by their daughters; and how almost 50% of medals won by India in the recently concluded Commonwealth games were by girls. Here the media industry has an important role to play and we can contribute to the PM dream in multiple ways – creating effective campaigns to demolish foeticide, responsible portrayal of women in advertisements and strive for gender equality in recruitment and promotions in our organisations.
PM Modi spoke heart to heart as he shared his pain over the issue of cleanliness. I can’t recollect of any PM or any major ministers talk of cleanliness with such concern. The fact the PM used such an important stage to voice his concern, goes to show his seriousness on the issues of hygiene and sanitation. He appealed to people not to leave a speck of dirt in our surroundings and by 2019 during the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who gave immense importance to cleanliness, we could achieve the dream of clean India.
I hope these visions and its implementations are supported by the political and bureaucratic establishments and also by the citizens. Picking up from the historic speech the PM comes across as a man on mission and I hope he does justice to the overwhelming consent he got in the last elections.
So far so good, the foundations have been laid. But will dream of a digital, manufacturing hub, gender equal and clean India be a reality soon? Only time will tell but as we stand today I believe ‘Acche din jaldi aane wale hain.’