India’s Modi highlights infrastructure plan amid Independence Day celebrations

India will soon launch a 1.35 trillion dollar national infrastructure plan that will boost the country’s economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced as part of Independence Day celebrations.

Wearing a flowing bright saffron-coloured turban, Mr Modi addressed the nation from New Delhi’s 17th-century Mughal-era Red Fort to mark the 74th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule.

He said the infrastructure plan will create job opportunities for millions of Indian youth.

“It will help local manufacturers turn globally competitive and also develop possibilities of new future economic zones in the country,” he said.

Children collect balloons used to decorate the venue of Independence Day celebrations in Gauhati, India (Anupam Nath/AP)

India’s economy, pummelled by the coronavirus pandemic, contracted 7.3% in the fiscal year that ended in March.

Economists fear there will be no rebound similar to the ones seen in the US and other major economies.

In his 90-minute speech, Mr Modi also listed his government’s achievements since 2014 and hailed India’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.

“We are proud that we didn’t have to depend on any other country for Covid-19 vaccines. Imagine what would have happened if India didn’t have its own vaccine,” he said.

India has given more than 500 million doses of vaccines but its vaccination drive has been marred by its slow pace.

About 11% of eligible adult Indians have been fully vaccinated so far.

Mr Modi also said India was committed to meeting targets for the reduction of its carbon footprint.

He said his government would invest more in electric mobility, solar energy and “green hydrogen” – which does not emit carbon dioxide – as part of its goal to make India energy independent by 2047.

A mahout stands on his elephant holding a national flag during Independence Day celebrations in Ahmedabad, India (Ajit Solanki/AP)

Mr Modi began his speech by praising India’s athletes who took part in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics.

India won one gold, two silver and four bronze medals at the Games.

India celebrates its Independence Day a day after its neighbour Pakistan.

The two separate states came into existence as a result of the bloody partition of British India in 1947.

The process sparked some of the worst communal violence the world has seen and left hundreds of thousands dead.

It triggered one of the largest human migrations in history and some 12 million people fled their homes.

On Saturday, Mr Modi announced that August 14 will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.


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