Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to make India a developed country within the next 25 years.
Wearing a flowing cream-colored turban with orange, white and green stripes, the colors of the Indian flag, Modi addressed the country from the 17th-century Mughal-era Red Fort in New Delhi to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule. .
Modi said the world’s view on India was changing and it was looking to the country to help solve global problems.
After a 21-gun salute, which would have been executed using howitzers made in the country for the first time under Modi’s “Make In India” industrial strategy, the prime minister said the Indians should get rid of “colonialism in our minds and habits”.
“Hundreds of years of colonialism have restricted our feelings, distorted our thoughts. When we see the smallest thing related to colonialism in us or around us, we have to get rid of it,” Modi said in a 90-minute speech from the ramparts of the Indian capital’s fort, which was decorated with portraits of fighters. freedom and guarded by mechanical elephants.
Modi also said India should crush the “termites” of corruption and nepotism, follow an “India first” mantra and ensure that “in speech and conduct, we do not do anything that lowers a woman’s dignity.
“Self-reliant India is the responsibility of every citizen, every government, every unit of society,” he said.
President Joe Biden, in a statement celebrating India’s Independence Day, said the United States and India were indispensable partners and that their partnership was based on a shared commitment to the state of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.
Biden said he was confident that “both countries will continue to stand together to uphold the rules-based order; foster greater peace, prosperity and security for our people; advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific; and tackle together the challenges we face in the world”.
Modi said India would be guided by the ideals of self-reliance and the spirit of international partnership to achieve excellence in science and technology, build industries and achieve food and energy security. He said billions of dollars of investment were flowing into the country, turning it into a manufacturing hub.
India’s efforts have already propelled the country of 1.4 billion people into the ranks of leading countries in information technology, pharmaceuticals, space science and civil nuclear energy.
Modi said millions of people across the country were commemorating the 75th anniversary of independence by hoisting orange, white and green national flags over their homes and businesses for three days as part of a government campaign “to awaken the spirit of patriotism in all hearts”.
Modi said the journey of the past 75 years has had its ups and downs with India battling against the odds with resilience and perseverance. He asked people to remove all traces of a colonial mindset.
The main opposition Congress party has accused the Modi government of leaving opposition parties out of the celebrations.
“There were special functions in the historic central hall of parliament to mark the 25th, 50th and 60th anniversary of Indian independence,” said Jairam Ramesh, spokesman for the Indian National Congress party. “Unfortunately, nothing like this was organized for the 75th anniversary, which was reduced to an occasion to glorify the Sarvagyaani,” using a term meaning “one who knows everything” in reference to Modi.
In his speech, Modi made no reference to India’s strained relations with its immediate neighbors Pakistan and China, or any steps to improve relations.
He called for unity among Indians but did not respond to pundits and critics who say the country is drifting away from some democratic commitments and argue that the backsliding has accelerated since the rise to power of Modi in 2014. They accuse his populist government of using unbridled political power. to undermine democratic freedoms and to be preoccupied with pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda.
Modi has pledged to fight corruption and nepotism in the country’s politics, which he says act like termites eating away at development gains.
AP and AFP contributed to this report