In his third independence day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for a tough and "sensitive" approach to tackle social evils such as casteism or untouchability, lashed out at Pakistan for glorifying terrorists and urged the youth to shun violence.
In a 90-minute address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort amid tight security, Modi said a strong country cannot be built without a strong society which is based on social justice.
"Our social unity is most important; division in the name of caste, creed hurts the country," "We need to rise above all."
Modi made no reference to the situation in Kashmir valley which has been rocked by violence after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, but accused Pakistan of glorifying terrorists and celebrating killings in India.
This was an obvious reference to Wani who has been hailed as a martyr by Pakistan, which was not directly named by him.
Referring to terrorism, he asked the youth of the country to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream, saying they have not achieved anything by taking the path of terror and extremism.
Attired in his trademark half sleeves kurta and sporting a Rajasthani turban, Modi devoted bulk of his address on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day to presenting in effect a report card of his government's work particularly in boosting economic growth, ease of doing business and welfare schemes for the poor and farmers.
He used the occasion to announce an initiative to bear up to Rs one lakh of healthcare expenses annually for families below the poverty line.
He asserted that India will not yield to terrorism and extremism. He also announced a 20 per cent increase in pension for "freedom fighters."
On GST, Modi stressed that the Goods and Services Tax will strengthen economy and that all political parties are to be thanked for its passage.
He noted that about 50 lakh free LPG connections were released in 100 days, and that a target of five crore connections can be achieved earlier than planned.
"I have tried to adopt the strategy of 'reform, perform and transform,' Modi said, adding that his government has tried to avoid populism.
He also assured that the aim of his government is to help double farmers' income, adding that food godowns with 15 lakh ton capacity has been built and more emphasis is being given to food processing.
He also gave his backing to the new inflation target of four per cent, saying his government had brought down consumer price growth from double digits under the last government.
Watch the full speech here.
With Reuters and PTI inputs