India will aim to become a developed nation within 25 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national day address yesterday, with policies to support domestic production in power, defence and digital technology.
Speaking from the 17th century Red Fort in Delhi as India celebrates its 75th year of independence from British colonial rule, Modi exhorted youth to “aim big” and give their best years for the cause of the country.
The prime minister urged Indians to shed “colonialism in our minds and habits”.
“Hundreds of years of colonialism has restricted our sentiments, distorted our thoughts. When we see even the smallest thing related to colonialism in us or around us, we have to be rid of it,” Modi said.
Modi also said India should crush the “termite” of corruption and nepotism, follow an “India First” mantra and ensure that “in speech and conduct, we do nothing that lowers a woman’s dignity”.
“Self-reliant India is the responsibility of every citizen, every government, every unit of society,” he said.
“We must turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years, in our lifetime,” said the 71-year-old Modi, wearing a turban in the colours of the Indian flag, in his 75-minute-speech in Hindi.
“It’s a big resolution, and we should work towards it with all our might.”
The World Bank currently categorises India as a lower-middle income economy — meant for countries with a gross national income per capita of between $1,086 and $4,255.
High income countries, like the US, have a per capita income of $13,205 or more.
India is the world’s sixth-largest economy and is expected to grow at over 7% in the current fiscal year ending in March 2023 — the fastest among major economies.
Many experts say India’s economy could expand to become the world’s third-largest by 2050 after the US and China, although per capita income, currently around $2,100, may remain low compared to many countries.
With about 1.4bn people, India is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year.
Countries like the US already see India as a future challenger to China’s dominating influence in Asia and beyond.
US President Joe Biden on Sunday congratulated India for its national day.
“The US joins the people of India to honour its democratic journey, guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring message of truth and non-violence,” Biden said. “India and the US are indispensable partners, and the US-India Strategic Partnership is grounded in our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity,” Biden said.
Biden also said his country’s Indian-American community had made the US a more innovative, inclusive, and stronger nation.
Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel march during a ceremony to celebrate country’s 75th Independence Day at the railway sports complex ground in Hyderabad yesterday.