On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his fifth and the last (before the next general election) Independence Day speech from the rampart of Red Fort in Delhi. This year’s 87-minute long speech has been the longest speech given by PM Modi in the last four years and it covered a lot of issues like GST, tax invasion, foreign investments and electricity. He also spoke about various government schemes/initiatives which has “helped” the socio-economic growth of the country since NDA-led Bhartiya Janata Party came to power in 2014. Here is a fact check of the claims made by the Prime Minister during his Independence Day speech.
While addressing the nation, Modi talked about the BJP government’s pet scheme Swachh Bharat Mission and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY). What he said was that according to a World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report, 3,00,000 children had been saved due to Swachh Bharat Mission.
Earlier this month, the WHO in its report lauded the Modi government’s flagship scheme saying, “India could avert deaths of three lakh children due to diarrheal disease and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) if there is 100% implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission by October 2019.” Further, WHO said that if sanitation is improved then “it could result in over 14 million more years of healthy life in the period measured with the benefits accruing yearly after that,” reports The Indian Express.
In another claim, Modi said that after his government came to power, rural India has been fully electrified. He also said that if his government worked at United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s pace, then it would have taken them decades to achieve 100 per cent electrification.
The reality of 100% electrification
In April 2018, PM announced electrification of all Indian villages and gave himself a deadline of 1,000 days, which he now claims have been fulfilled. However, according to the reports, UPA during their tenure had already electrified an average of 12,000 villages every year, and the NDA had electrified 4,600 villages. Further, according to government’s data, out of the 18,000 villages claimed to have been electrified by the BJP government, only 8% of these villages have their households electrified. This probably means that even after government claims of 100% electrification in India, many households in rural India are still in dark.
The “Pradhan Sevak” also boasted about providing employment through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY). He said, “13 crore loans under MUDRA is a big achievement. Out of this, 4 crores people have taken a loan for the first time. After taking the loan, these youth have become self-employed.”
The reality of employment and Mudra scheme
The Finance Minister in Lok Sabha responding to a question stated, “Over 13.47 crore loans amounting to more than Rs 6.37 lakh crore have been sanctioned under PMMY as on 3 August.” Further breaking down the number in Rajya Sabha the government said, “Under PMMY, the number of accounts/ number of loans sanctioned during 2015-16 to 2017-18 was 12.27 crore, out of which 3.49 crore were new entrepreneurs.”
However, an RTI filed by India Today, clarified that the government has been unsuccessful in creating jobs through this scheme. As 90 per cent of the loans given under this scheme is in the ‘Shishu’ (small stage loan) category that provides loans only up to Rs 50,000 which, according to economists, is not enough to create substantial employment. This RTI answer leaves the ambiguity of the employment generation due to these small loans of 50,000.
On this year’s Independence day speech, the Prime minister dressed in white kurta and saffron turban did make three big announcements. The first was “Modi care”, which aims to provide health care of five lakh rupees cover to 50 crore Indians starting September 25, the second was that he announced that an Indian astronaut would go to space on board the “Gaganyan” in 2022. The third was the women in armed forces will now be commissioned permanently as opposed to the earlier short service.
The Logical Indian take
While the Prime Minister twisted the truth at certain places in his longest ever speech for Independence Day, he forgot to mention important issues such as mob lynching, suicide of farmers or the sexual abuse of 34 women at the Muzzafarpur shelter home. Being the Prime Minister of the country, he is revered by most and many people expect him to talk about the injustices met out to the women, farmers and minorities of our country instead of merely talking about his own term. His speech seemed more like a campaign speech for the 2019 elections.
While he spoke about manufacturing in India, he forgot to give data on the number of jobs created. He mentioned in his speech that nobody is above law but he forgot to mention the lynchings of minorities in the name of gau rakhsha, even when one of the incidents happened recently. He forgot to condemn his minister who welcomed Alimuddin’s killers with garlands. He forgot to condemn the accused in the Hapur lynching case, who was seen on camera taking pride in killing an innocent person. His speech was just a rehashed version of all his previous speeches, with no new insights and no new hope.