Modi strikes a chord with I-Day speech

Crowd at Red Fort praises PM's break from the past

It struck a chord with the aam janta and the sarkari babus. From toilets for girls, “zero-defect made-in-India products” to e-governance, Narendra Modi’s maiden Independence Day speech was a contrast to speeches of yesteryear.

His critics found his juggling between words “contrived” but appreciated his “oratorical skills”. Schoolchildren thought it was worth waking up at 5 am on a holiday after shaking hands with the Pradhan Mantri.

“Will he be able to achieve zero defects and zero effects in India-made products?” a Ministry of Home Affairs official said as one of the giant screens blacked out right after the Prime Minister promised to make India the biggest exporter of goods.

A naval officer remarked the choice of words throughout the speech made it less of an extempore. “But who can deny this man speaks well?”

A college student, Radhika, said this was the first time she had come to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech.

“Modi had a takeaway line for everybody here. I particularly liked it when he said parents should monitor their sons’ actions instead of regulating their daughters, to stop rapes.”
Elderly couples thought it was moving for the PM to mention in a public speech how sons leave their parents in old age homes.

“This is why I came from Jahangirpuri to listen to him. This is a speech easy to understand,” said Girja Devi, who works as a domestic help.Beyond the VIP enclosure, the crowd cheered as Modi spoke of the immediate need of toilets for women and debit cards for the poor.

Tea sellers had a reason to cheer too. “When there is talk of tea seller, I feel a sense of belongingness.”

The speech was dotted with light moments too. The crowd broke into laughter as the PM said it is sad that sarkari babus reaching office on time makes news.

“So from tomorrow it is at least 13 hours of work,” a government official said, grinning at the remark.

The other best one-liner was probably when he spoke of the indifference of the public to what does not affect them.

“Iss mein mera kya, toh mujhe kya – I think it perfectly rounded up the general mentality. It was hilarious the way he said it but meaningful too,” an engineer who came with her three-month-old daughter said.

The enclosure saw several women with infants listening to the speech. “It better he starts learning early,” joked a homemaker, pointing towards her one-year-old son fast asleep on her lap.

The young crowd jostling to click Modi on their cellphones showed his popularity among the young voters.

“Finally it was worth buying this iPhone,” a young executive said, showing off Modi shaking hands with schoolchildren to her cousins.  

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