Independence Day: PM Modi says India stands with Manipur

Narendra Modi in a yellow-red turban
Image caption,Mr Modi said a lasting resolution in Manipur could only be found through peace

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was making every effort to restore peace in the state of Manipur as he addressed the country on its 77th independence day.

“I want to tell the people of Manipur that the country is with you,” Mr Modi said.

On Tuesday, he unfurled the national flag at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.

In a speech televised live, he talked about natural disasters, the economy and India’s growing population.

On Manipur, the prime minister said that a lasting resolution could only be found through peace.

“In the last few weeks, Manipur witnessed a wave of violence. Several people lost their lives and our mothers and sisters were dishonoured,” he said.

  • What is happening in Manipur and why?

The state has witnessed violent clashes which broke out in May between the majority Meitei group and the tribal Kuki minority.

More than 140 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in the violence. A viral video of an attack in May when two Kuki women were paraded naked by Meitei men shortly after their village was razed sparked outrage and made global headlines.

Mr Modi was criticised for not speaking on Manipur for weeks during the violence.

“Manipur has been peaceful for the last few days,” he said on Tuesday. “The state and the federal governments are working to ensure this continues.”

His speech came days after his government defeated a no-trust vote in the parliament after opposition leaders criticised the government response to the crisis in the state and demanded that he address the house on the ethnic clashes.

In his independence day speech, the prime minister referred to recent reports that said that India had overtaken China to be the world’s most populous country with 1.4 billion people.

“Demography, democracy and diversity” were India’s strength and the country’s youth would have unlimited opportunities, he added.

The prime minister said India’s economy was now the fifth largest in the world and promised that “in the next five years, we will be in the top three”.

“I am confident that in 2047, when India marks 100 years of its independence, it will be a developed nation,” he added.

Mr Modi claimed that the country’s economic situation post the Covid-19 pandemic was better than most other countries. “We have been able to control inflation successfully,” he said.

His claim though is being questioned as India’s middle and lower classes, who make up the bulk of the population, have been hit by skyrocketing prices for essentials in recent months.And official data released on Monday showed retail inflation at a 15-month high of 7.44% in July on the back of a surge in prices of vegetables, cereals and pulses.

The prime minister also touched up the “unimaginable crisis” caused by natural calamities in several states this year.

Heavy rainfall has battered the northern state of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh over the past few days. Dozens of people have been killed in flash floods and landslides.

Mr Modi said the state and federal governments would work together to help the affected people rebuild their lives.

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