The Independence Day address has been a unique platform for Prime Ministers. It gave them the grandest of stands in the country from where they could set the tone of their tenure. Policies were announced and catchphrases coined on the ramparts of the Red Fort.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited suggestions from all citizens for the themes and issues he needs to address in his speech. People were asked to send in their inputs through the MyGov website and app.
The Hindu had also asked its readers as to what they would like the Prime Minister to be talking about on I-Day. The response has been tremendous: 1,249 to be exact.
Readers were asked to classify their suggestions under various heads. Here is a break-up of the suggestions under various heads in percentage terms:
The topic taking the No. 1 spot – with 19.8 per cent of the respondents writing about it – is “Issues of Intolerance [Dalits, Muslims and Cows]”. The issue has been dominating headlines in recent times, but readers’ perspective on why they thought this was important varied. For Arun, “it is important for us to have citizens who can think and act freely. Attack on the citizens for some outdated religious doctrines will set the clock backward for our civilization.” For Salim, “India's fame on the global market” is at stake.
A close No. 2 (19.2%) is “Education.” Cost and quality were the prime concerns of readers, with many pegging them as the reason for our lagging development. The gap between higher education and employability found mention, as did privatisation and the stress students are under. However, the overarching theme was education as the cure for most ills that plague the nation.
Those who chose ‘Other’ to spell out specific issues formed the next biggest bunch. Everything from climate change to gender issues found mention. But the most recurring subject here was rape and security for women. Many were anxious about the inability of the law to effectively deal with the rising number of molestation cases. Reservation was another favourite - from calls for outright abolition to nuanced takes such as dropping castes from caste certificates and retaining only SC, ST tags.
“Internal Security (Kashmir, Maoists, Northeast)”, another issue that was on top on people’s minds with Kashmir under curfew, took the next spot. There were outright calls to war such as “Take PoK back” and gentler approaches such as reaching out to the Kashmiris. A few saw the issue from the other end, suggesting that the Kashmiris and those in the Northeast should feel the government was working for them.
The rest of the suggestions were a mix dominated by ‘Governance’ and ‘Digital India’. Many had put serious thought into the answers, numbering out suggestions and solutions. We will be attempting to curate the best answers and publishing them shortly.