NEW DELHI, Aug 15 : In a marathon address to the nation from the ramparts of 17th century Red Fort , Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined India's unity and diversity and said the poison of casteism and communal frenzy have no place in the country.
Modi, in his second Independence Day address, focussed largely on the issue of corruption and asserted that the steps taken by his government over the last 15 months to deal with the "termite" had started yielding results.
Responding to opposition criticism that nothing is happening on the problem of black money, he said "some people love to spread pessimism" as he informed that about Rs 6500 cr of undeclared money has been disclosed during the compliance window provided by the government.
He spoke about a number of initiatives to end corruption and bring transparency and proposed doing away with the practice of interview for small jobs, contending that this becomes a route for corruption.
During the 85-minute address, he talked about the much-anticipated 'One-Rank, One-Pension', saying the government has "in-principle accepted" it and he was hopeful of a positive outcome of the ongoing discussions which are in the "last stage".
He mentioned the announcements made during his first Independence Day address last year and said many of them had been implemented in a time-bound manner. The government programmes are focussed on welfare of the poor and other under privileged sections while ensuring reduction in inflation and efforts to boost growth to double digit, he said.
While talking about efforts for development, Modi made a strong pitch for communal harmony and peace. "The world keeps signing praise about India's diversity and greatness. Like diversity, the country also has simplicity and unity, which are our capital. These have been nurtured over the centuries. This capital has to be preserved," he said.
Meanwhile, Manish Tewari, information minister in the Congress government, said Modi failed to address the corruption allegations raised in parliament, accusing him of lacking the "moral authority" to tell his lieutenants to quit.
"He didn't tell the country in his lengthy speech why the entire session of parliament was wasted," Tewari told AFP.
Mohan Guruswamy, who heads the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Alternatives think tank, said Modi had set himself an impossible task in pledging to completely eradicate corruption as it was endemic at every level of officialdom.
Another report says, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday, in an exchange of letters with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, extended felicitations on the occasion of India's Independence Day.
PM Nawaz extended his wishes to the Indian premier today. Whereas yesterday on Pakistan's Independence Day, Modi extended his felicitations to Pakistanis through Twitter.
The Indian premier in a tweet had also extended his good wishes to Pakistanis.
The exchange between the two leaders comes in the midst of tension between India and Pakistan due to recent skirmishes along the Line of Control. Earlier in this month, 3 people were killed and at least 22 injured as Indian and Pakistani security forces exchanged fire in across the Working Boundary in Sialkot. ?AGENCIES