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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech to the nation during a ceremony to celebrate country's 73rd Independence Day, at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence day speech touched upon several important issues. They included the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A in Jammu and Kashmir, creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, Rs 100 lakh crore on developing infrastructure, population explosion, eliminate use of plastic bags, promote digital payments, water conservation, one nation, one election and many others.

Here are some important issues that Modi said during his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort:

Why scrapping Article 370 in J&K was vital to his vision of the country

With the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, the dream of "One Nation, One Constitution" has been realised, said Modi. He also lashed out at the opposition for speaking against the move, asking if they felt it was so necessary why didn't they make it permanent in the past 70 years.

"The government is yet to complete 10 weeks and we have provided speed to the development programme. We did not wait even a day to start our work," he said.

"In this short span of time, we have taken important steps in every sector. Article 370 and 35A being revoked from Jammu and Kashmir is a step towards realising the dream of Sardar Patel."

He said the work which was pending for the last 70 years was accomplished in less than 70 days under his government.

"It is the responsibility of everyone of us to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and help provide new wings to their dreams. All 130 crore Indians have to take up and fulfil this responsibility and help remove any hurdles," he said.

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The Prime Minister said everyone wanted Article 370 to be scrapped, but they were waiting for the appropriate time.

Attacking the opposition for supporting Article 370 and 35A, Modi said they were doing it only for political gains. "Those speaking in favour of it, the country is asking if Article 370 was so great, and was so beneficial to the people, why didn't you change it to permanent? If you had the conviction you could have changed it."

Modi said: "From the Red Fort, I can say with pride that every Indian can say 'One Nation, One Constitution'. Sardar Patel's dream of one Bharat has been realised."

What it means to have a Chief of Defence Staff

Modi said: "I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort that 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 prime minister said that as head of the three services, the CDS will ensure synergy and provide effective leadership to the armed forces in dealing with security challenges.

Following this, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a tweet that the announcement by Modi on the CDS has been made keeping in view the much needed reform to streamline and further improve the coordination among the three forces and their functioning.

"CDS will have a long lasting and a positive impact on India's security," Singh said.

The CDS will be senior to the service chiefs and his primary role will be to work towards increasing operational coordination among the Army, Navy or Air Force and deal with India's national security with a comprehensive approach, officials said.

The CDS will also act as a single-point military adviser to the prime minister and defence minister on key defence and strategic issues. A number of western countries have tri-services chiefs.

Abolition of triple talaq and its impact

Modi said it was aimed at benefitting the Muslim women. He said the country has taken several steps for women, including ending the evil of female foeticide. If we can take so many steps then why not raise our voice against the evil of triple talaq, so that our Muslim sisters get equal respect and are part of the country's progress, he asked. The decision is not to be weighed in political terms, Modi said.

Triple talaq in India

Population explosion; what next?

Modi said 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.

"It is time to accept the challenges up front... population explosion. It will bring a lot of challenges for the future generations of this country," Modi said in an Independence Day speech in the capital New Delhi.

"We have to think if we can do justice to the aspirations of our children. There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion."

The prime minister hailed an "informed section" of Indians who were already having smaller families as "playing a big role in doing good for the country".

This is the first time Modi has raised the issue, even though a section of the BJP has been vocal about the matter.

"If population is educated and healthy, the country too will be educated and healthy," he said.

India introduced forced sterilisations for men in the 1970s to limit its population growth, but was forced to abandon them due to widespread anger.

The government stopped setting official targets for sterilisations in 1996, but rights activists say the practice persists at a local level.

More than 1.9 million people, mostly women, were sterilised across India in 2017 and 2018, according to the government's National Health Mission.

Economy with strong fundamentals

Even as India battles stuttering growth and high unemployment, Modi said the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" and he was confident the South Asian giant would become a $5 trillion economy in 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," he added.

"It took us 70 years to become a $2 trillion economy. From 2014 to 2019, we became a $3 trillion economy. We added $1 trillion in just five years. Now we are looking forward to making the nation a $5 trillion economy."

He pledged to spend $1.4 trillion on infrastructure and $49 billion on a massive project to provide potable water to millions of Indians who lack access.

"India doesn't want just incremental progress," the Indian leader added.

"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."

'One Nation, One Election': The 'importance' of holding simultaneous polls

Modi also made a fresh pitch for his pet idea during his Independence Day speech, saying today India is talking about simultaneous polls which is a good thing.

Supporting further dialogue on the issue among stakeholders, he said discussions should now be held on 'one nation, one election' as it is imperative to make the country "great".

"The dream of one nation, one tax has been achieved by the implementation of the GST (Goods and Services Tax). Our nation has also successfully achieved One Nation, One Grid in the Power sector. Now today, India is talking about One Nation, One Election. So a discussion must be held on this," he said.

The prime minister has been pushing for the implementation of the idea of simultaneous polls, which first came into public discourse in 1977.

What is Jal Jeevan Mission?

Modi announced a new Jal Jeevan Mission for realising the vision of Har Ghar Jal, or drinking water to every home, with an allocation of Rs 3,59,000 crore. Modi also asked the citizens to adopt the water conservation, they way they adopted the Swachh Bharat campaign. He said that women in many parts of rural India spend many precious hours trudging kilometres to fetch water.

The Jal Jeevan Mission is implemented under the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation and will focus on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level. This will cover the creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, and management of household wastewater for reuse in agriculture. Officials say the Jal Jeevan Mission aims convergence of Central and State Government Schemes to achieve sustainable water supply management across the country.

Eliminating use of plastic

Modi said single-use plastic poses grave threat to the environment. The time for implementing such an idea has come. Teams must be mobilised to work in this direction. A significant step must come out by October 2.

"During my 2014 speech, I spoke about cleanliness. It became a movement in the country and the common man took it up with gusto. Today, I have another request. By October 2, on the birth anniversary of dear Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi), I want to urge the citizens to give up single-use plastic," Modi said.

"Shopkeepers should sell jute and cloth bags. Customers should adopt ways to reduce plastic usage. We must also put technologies in use to abolish plastic usage," the prime minister said.

"Let us come out in groups, in schools, colleges and collect plastic, wherever it is whether it is on the streets, in the drains and deposit them. Municipalities should make arrangements for their disposal," Modi said.

He urged startups, technicians to find ways to recycle plastic like using it in building highways and appealed to shopkeepers to have boards in front of their shops saying," Please don't expect plastic bags here. Bring cloth bags from home or take them from us at a price."

In an innovative branding measure for businesses, Modi urged people to gift cloth bags on Diwali and said once it is carried to the market, it will advertise the particular company.

Promoting digital payment, another pet theme

Modi said shopkeepers already have a board outside their shops that reads: 'Aaj nagad, kal udhar'. Similarly they can have a board saying 'yes' to digital payment and no to cash payment.

"We should encourage digital payment. Today also when we go to villages, there are boards at shops saying "Today Cash, Tomorrow Debt". I want to tell the countrymen that now instead of this there should be a board reading, 'yes to digital payment, no to cash'," he said.

Modi has always been a strong supporter of a digital and cashless economy, especially after the conversial demonetisation in 2016.

Visit 15 tourist destinations by 2022

Emphasising that India has a huge potential in improving the tourism sector Modi appealed to the citizens to visit at least 15 tourist destinations in the country by 2022.

"India has so 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?," he asked.

Modi said that he was aware that there were many tourist destinations which do not have hotels or other infrastructures.

"But visiting such places will boost tourism in these areas and automatically lead to better facilities," he added.

Minimise use of fertilizers

Modi urged the farmers to minimise the use of chemical-based fertilizers in their farmlands.

"Let us try to protect our mother earth by reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and products. I want to demand something from my farmers today. I cannot let my mother earth be degraded. I want to appeal to all my farmers to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers by 30-40 Percent. Just by doing this you will be doing a service to Mother Earth," he said.

Wealth creation

Modi said wealth creation is a great national service. Let us never be wealth creators with suspicion. Only when wealth is created, it will be distributed. Those who create wealth are India's wealth and we respect them.

Creating quality export products, Make in India revamped

Indian PMi said the 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'.

"Let us all resolve to use products made in India. Let us resolve: Local products for a lucky tomorrow. Local products for a beautiful tomorrow. Local products for a bright tomorrow," he said.

The Prime Minister also stressed that citizens must buy indigenous products and must strive to make the policy of "Make In India" a success.

(With inputs from news agencies)