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Modi: India aims to become developed country in 25 years

August 15, 2022

India's prime minister said the country should establish itself as a developed economy "within our lifetime." India is celebrating 75 years since its independence from Britain.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with folk artists after addressing the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi, India, August 15, 2022.
India is holding lavish ceremonies for its 75th anniversary of independence, but the opposition says there's no room for it at the events under ModiImage: Adnan Abidi/REUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called on India to aim to complete its economic modernization within the next quarter of a century. 

"We must turn India into a developed country in the next 25 years, in our lifetime," said the 71-year-old Modi, speaking to a large crowd at New Delhi's Red Fort and wearing a turban in the national colors of white, green and orange. 

"It's a big resolution, and we should work towards it with all our might," he said. 

India is in the midst of lavish celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of its independence from colonial rule as part of the now-defunct British Empire, on August 15, 1947. In the capital, Parliament House, the presidential palace, national monuments and other government offices are decorated and lit up in the national colors.

Lofty ambition, despite rapid progress

Despite the rapid rise in economic clout for the country of almost 1.4 billion, there's still a long road ahead if Modi's goal is to be realized. 

The World Bank currently classes India as a lower-middle income country — its definition for countries with an annual gross national income per capita of between $1,086 (roughly €1,060) and $4,255. High income economies have a per capita income of at least $13,205. 

However, India's per capita income has more than quadrupled since 2000, when it was below $500 per person per annum.

Opposition complains of exclusion at anniversary

Modi told the crowd at the Red Fort on Monday that India had seen ups and downs over the past 75 years, battling against all odds with resilience and perseverance. He asked people to remove any trace of a colonial mindset, in a speech lasting more than an hour. 

However, opposition parties criticized the Hindu nationalist prime minister for failing to be inclusive himself when arranging the festivities. 

"There were special functions in Parliament's historic Central Hall to mark the 25th, 50th, and 60th anniversary of India's independence," said Jairam Ramesh, a spokesman for the India National Congress party that can trace its roots back to Mahatma Gandhi.

"Sadly, nothing like that has been organized for the 75th anniversary, which has been reduced to an occasion to glorify the Sarvagyaani," Ramesh said, using a Hindu term meaning "person who knows all" in mocking reference to Modi. 

Modi did not mention international tensions with nuclear neighbors  China or Pakistan in his speech, nor any steps to improve relations.

August 15 is particularly relevant to India's ties to Pakistan, because it also marks the anniversary of the Partition of India and the creation of Muslim-majority Pakistan. This displaced millions of people along religious lines, descended into widespread violence, and provided a difficult start to the two new neighbors' relations. Although India and Pakistan have fought several wars in the past 75 years, they have refrained from conflict this century. 

Eyewitnesses look back on partition of India and Pakistan

msh/rt (AP, Reuters)