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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi, India Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hit back at critics of his government's decision to revoke the autonomy of Kashmir, saying its special status had only led to terrorism and separatism.

The move will allow Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to play a meaningful role in India's development, Modi said while addressing the nation on Independence Day from New Delhi's 17th-century Red Fort.

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Population control

Modi also spoke on the need for population control during his Independence speech from the ramparts of Red Fort.

Modi said that there is a greater need for discussion and awareness on the population explosion.

"Population explosion will cause many problems for our future generations. But there is a vigilant section of public which stops to think, before bringing a child to the world, whether they can do justice to the child, give them all that she or he wants. They have a small family and express their patriotism to the country. Let's learn from them. There is need of social awareness," Prime Minister Modi said.

Prime Minister had a word of praise for those who are going for small families. He said that such families are observing a form of patriotism. He said: "Those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation, it is also a form of patriotism."

Modi said India stands strongly against terrorism, and is presenting before the world the "true colours" of those who shelter and finance terrorism.

Modi said India is fighting against terror with great strength, and will not support any country that shelters and finances terrorism.

"We will expose before the world all exporters of terror. We, together with other countries of the world, will fight those sheltering terrorism, financing and exporting terrorism. We are presenting their true colours in front of the world."

He said neighbouring countries -- Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka -- have been victims of the terror attacks.

"So when India is fighting against terrorism, we are playing our role on the world stage," he said.

He greeted Afghanistan that is going to celebrate its 100 years of Independence after four days.

Creation of Chief of Defence Staff post

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a five day journey to France, Bahrain and UAE Image Credit: AFP

In a major move, Modi also announced the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, that has been a long-pending recommendation of various defence panels.

Modi said: "I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a Chief of Defence Staff -- CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective. The new CDS post will oversee all the three wings of the armed forces."

The creation of a CDS post had been a major recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee -- of integration of the three services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- under a Chief of Defence Staff. However, no concrete action was taken on this, until now.

The government appointed Lt Gen D.B. Shekatkar (Retd) as head of an 11-member committee to recommend measures to enhance the combat capability of the armed forces and re-balance defence expenditure.

The committee suggested a four-star Chief of Defence Staff as the chief military adviser to the Defence Minister.

The Prime Minister's announcement was immediately welcomed by former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik (retd), who was the army chief during the Kargil War.

"Thank you PM Modi for announcing historic step of institution of CDS. This step will make our national security more effective and more economical. It will ensure better jointmanship and multi-disciplinary Acoordination. Salute," he tweeted.

Here are a few points from Narendra Modi's Independence Day 2019 speech:

We have taken some very significant decisions in the first 10 weeks itself (of the second term) to ensure that the nation sees unhindered growth. The removal of Article 370, Article 35A, and the removal of triple talaq that will help our Muslim sisters immensely.

While the nation celebrates Independence Day today, there are many across the country who are facing immense difficulties due to heavy rain and floods. The NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and others are working round-the-clock to ensure that they are safe.

India understands the important of water conservation and thus, a new ministry for Jal Shakti has been created. Steps have been taken to make the medical sector even more people-friendly.

We have to think about solutions to the problems people face. Yes, there will be obstacles on the way but we have to work to overcome them. Remember how scared the Muslim women were, who suffered due to triple talaq but we ended the practice.

One nation, one Constitution - this spirit has become a reality and India is proud of that. GST (goods and services tax) brought to life the dream of one nation, one tax. India has also achieved one nation, one grid in the energy sector. Arrangements have been made for one nation, one mobility card. Today, India is talking about one nation, one election.

Every effort made to remove corruption and black money is welcome. These are menaces that have ruined India for 70 long years. Let us always reward honesty.

I always ask - can we not remove the excess influence of government on people's lives? Let our people have the freedom of pursuing their own aspirations, let the right eco-system be made in this regard.

India does not want incremental progress. A high jump is needed, our thought process has to be expanded. We have to keep in mind global best practices and build good systems.

Time has come to think about how we can boost exports. Each district of India has so much to offer. Let us make local products attractive. May more export hubs emerge. Our guiding principle is zero defect, zero effect.

In the first 70 years since our Independence, we became a $2 trillion economy. But only in the last five years between 2014 and 2019, we added $1 trillion to it, making India a $3 trillion economy. And if we could do that in just five years, I am confident we will make India a $5 trillion economy in the next five years.

Today, the government in India is stable, policy regime is predictable... the world is eager to explore trade with India. We are working to keep prices under check and increase development. The fundamentals of our economy are strong.

Wealth creation is a great national service. Only when wealth is created, wealth will be distributed. Wealth creation is absolutely essential. Those who create wealth are India's wealth and we respect them.

India has so much to offer; there is so much to see, such natural beauty. It is our collective responsibility to preserve it, conserve it. It is upon us all to ensure that we do our bit to make India a top tourism destination. We must all ensure that our guests are treated well and ensure that tourists have a great experience. Tourism has tremendous potential.

From the ramparts of the Red Fort, I give my greetings to the people of Afghanistan who are marking 100 years of freedom.

Can we free India from single use plastic? The time for implementing such an idea has come. May teams be mobilised to work in this direction. Let a significant step be made on 2nd October.

Our priority should be a 'Made in India' product. Can we think of consuming local products, improving rural economy and the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sector.

India has much to offer. I know people travel abroad for holidays but can we think of visiting at least 15 tourist destinations across India before 2022, when we mark 75 years of freedom?

- With inputs from agencies