Independence Day: Modi sets out 25-year timeline to make India a developed nation

File. India’s prime minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort during the celebrations to mark countrys Independence Day in New Delhi on 15 August 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

India will aim to become a developed nation in the next 25 years, prime minister Narendra Modi said in his address to the nation on the country’s 75th anniversary of independence from British rule.

Speaking from the 17th-century Mughal-era Red Fort in Delhi, the prime minister called on the country’s youth to “aim big” and give their best years to the national cause.

"We must turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years, in our lifetime,” he said wearing a flowing turban printed in the colours of the Indian flag.

“It’s a big resolution, and we should work towards it with all our might,” he said in his 75-minute long speech.

Elsewhere in his address, the prime minister spoke of the ideals of self-reliance and the spirit of international partnership as the country strived to attain excellence in science and technology and attain food and energy security.

Ranked as the world’s sixth-largest economy with a GDP of $2.7 trillion (£2.2 trillion), India is currently categorised by the World Bank as a lower-middle income economy. Nations in this category have gross national income per capita between $1,086 (£899) and $4,255 (£3,522) while high-income countries have per capita income of over $13,205 (£10,929).

The prime minister also urged people to pledge not to do anything that diminishes the “dignity of women” as he hailed the country’s diversity.

“India has many languages, sometimes our talent is restricted by language barriers, we need to be proud of every language in our country,” he said.

Millions across the country have been commemorating the 75th year of independence by hoisting the Indian tricolour at their homes and businesses as a part of the government’s campaign of “awakening the spirit of patriotism in every heart”, said the prime minister. Mr Modi’s ruling party has been accused by the opposition of forcing poor people to buy national flags ahead of Monday’s celebrations.

The Indian parliament, presidential palace and national museums were seen illuminated with India’s national flag colours.

But the country’s main opposition party, Indian National Congress, criticised the Modi-led government for attempting to trivialise the sacrifices made by freedom fighters.

The criticism came a day after Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and other communist leaders of India for the partition in 1947 which led to a bloody massacre and the creation of Pakistan.

“Friends, we have achieved many things in the past 75 years, but today’s self-obsessed government is bent on trivialising the great sacrifices of our freedom fighters and the country’s glorious achievements,” the Congress party’s president Sonia Gandhi wrote in her message. “This can never be accepted.”

The party will strongly oppose any attempt to put “great national leaders such as [Mahatma] Gandhi, Nehru and [Vallabhbhai] Patel in the dock” through misrepresentation, she said.

Earlier, the Congress party criticised the government for failing to include the political opposition in Independence Day celebrations, saying that cross-party events were staged in the country’s parliament on 15 August at every previous major milestone.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh also urged Indians to not let the country’s freedom be robbed by “authoritarian arrogance” or allow hatred to undermine their unity.

“While every Indian will proudly salute the flag as it flies high, the tricolour must also remind us of the composite culture which makes us a uniquely great democracy in the world,” he wrote in The Hindu.

Several world leaders including US president Joe Biden wished the country well on its Independence Day. Claiming to be indispensable partners, Mr Biden said the partnership between the two countries is rooted in a shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.

The American president said he was confident that “the two countries will continue to stand together to defend the rules-based order; foster greater peace, prosperity and security for our people; advance a free and open Indo-Pacific; and together address the challenges we face around the world”.

Additional reporting from the wires