PM delivers veiled warning to China and Pakistan

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech to the nation during a ceremony to celebrate India's 74th Independence Day, which marks the end of British colonial rule, at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15, 2020. - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a new warning to China over deadly border tensions on August 15, using his most important speech of the year to promise to build a stronger military. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

PTI

New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday issued a veiled warning to China and Pakistan saying whoever challenged the country’s sovereignty got a befitting reply as he made a push for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ with a ‘Make for World’ call and announced a national digital health mission.

In his address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort for the seventh consecutive time, Modi (69) also said mass production of vaccine for COVID-19 will begin in India once scientists give their nod, and a roadmap was ready to ensure it reaches everyone in the country in the shortest possible time. Three vaccine candidates are in different stages of trials in the country, he added.

The Prime Minister asserted that the COVID-19 pandemic cannot halt the country’s march towards self-reliance, and presented a broad outline for spurring India’s growth in diverse sectors.

Citizens will be issued a health card that will have all their medical information under the digital health mission that will revolutionise healthcare in India, he said.

The annual grand Independence Day event at the main venue Red Fort, which traditionally witnessed a bustling crowd, was scaled down this year in keeping with prescribed COVID-19 safety protocols that also included social distancing for the visitors including ministers and diplomats.

During his 86-minute address, Modi also underscored his government’s commitment to holding assembly polls in centrally-administered Jammu and Kashmir after the ongoing delimitation exercise is over, and stated a new era of development has begun in the Union territory after Article 370 was scrapped a year ago.

Modi, who was dressed in his customary ‘kurta pyjama’ and sported a saffron and cream ‘safa’, said the armed forces have given a befitting reply to those challenging the country’s sovereignty “from LoC to LAC”, in a veiled reference to Pakistan and China.

“From LoC (line of control) to LAC (line of actual control), anyone who casts an eye on the sovereignty of the country, the armed forces have responded in the language they understand,” Modi said.

 “Whether it is terrorism or expansionism, India is fighting both with determination.”

Referring to the Galwan valley clashes in eastern Ladakh in June, the Prime Minister said respect for India’s sovereignty is supreme and the world has seen in Ladakh what its brave jawans can do to maintain this resolve.

“I salute all those brave soldiers from the Red Fort,”

Modi said.

Modi said all the six lakh villages in the country will be connected with optical fibres in 1,000 days to improve digital connectivity for the rural masses.

 “Every Indian will be given a health ID, which will work as each Indian’s health account,” Modi said, adding it would ease problems faced by citizens in getting healthcare access.

 “Every test, disease and diagnosis, and medical reports along with medicines will be stored in every citizen’s health ID. These health issues will be resolved through this National Digital Health Mission,” he added.

The Prime Minister dwelt at length on his ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) campaign as he gave a call for reducing imports and pushing exports of finished products in place of raw material, saying the country will have to move forward with the mantra of ‘Make in India’ as well as ‘Make for World’.

‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is no longer merely a word but has become a mantra and captured people’s imagination, he said.

Unveiling his vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Prime Minister said the goal is to make India a global manufacturing hub while a Rs 110-lakh crore pipeline of national infrastructure projects is being created to boost the economy and create jobs.