“We have the same people and systems but look at the speed at which things have been done. The achievements of this government have to be weighed in against what went on before, in 2013.”
He spoke of anti-corruption measures and reassured taxpayers that their money was not being wasted in leakages of government funds.
The government has been struggling with its crackdown on corruption after bank scam accused Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fled India, but Prime Minister Modi pointed to several pieces of legislation passed by his government to tackle graft. “We have passed the banking reforms Bill, the bankruptcy code and the benami properties Act. We are a government that has the will to take tough decisions,” he said, referring to what he termed a changed culture where those in Delhi’s power corridors were finally removed from decision-making.
“Our government has added, in the last four years, double the number of direct tax payers from the last 70 years. I want the unsung tax payers of this country to know that my government is committed to ending leakage of public funds, and when you sit down for a meal be assured that a poor man and his family is also getting a meal under welfare programmes funded by your honestly paid tax,” he said.
While the speech in 2017 was dominated by the mention of Jammu and Kashmir, this year Mr. Modi repeated his call for dialogue and reconciliation, plumping for “gale milna” or a hug rather than “gali” (abuse) or “goli” (bullet) and former prime minister Vajpayee’s approach of “Insaaniyat, Kashmriyat and Jamhooriyat.”
He also said panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir would be held soon, and wished for a “balanced development” of all regions of the State: Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.
He quoted Tamil poet Subramania Bharati to emphasise India’s way to assuming some leadership in international fora: “India will show the world the way to freedom from all forms of slavery” he quoted from a poem by Bharati.
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