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Reservation is being ensured for Dalits, STs, backwards and general category poor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday in his Independence Day address and stressed that the hand-holding of deprived communities is necessary.

"We have to bridge the gap between lives in villages and cities," the prime minister said.

Over 4.5 crore new households have received piped water supply within two years of 'Jal Jeevan Mission', he said.

The prime minister, who hoisted the tricolour at the Red Fort before his speech, gave a call for 'Sabka Prayas' along with 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas' for building a new India.

India has to march ahead with new pledges for the next 25 years, Modi said.

"We have to ensure we meet our goal of building Aatmanirbhar Bharat when we celebrate 100 years of India's Independence," the prime minister said.

Modi stressed that the day should not be merely a ceremony.

People can take pride that the world's largest Covid vaccination programme in going on in the country, he said.

He lauded doctors, nurses as well those involved in vaccine manufacturing and others involved in fighting COVID-19.

Pain of partition was one of the greatest tragedies of last century, the prime minister said while asserting that August 14 will be remembered as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

He also lauded India's Olympic contingent, which was present at the Red Fort, and said their performance encouraged the youth of the country. 

Govt will develop e-commerce platform for products made by women SHGs in villages: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the government will develop an e-commerce platform for the products made by women self-help groups (SHGs) in villages.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of 75th Independence Day, Modi said the government has also awakened the aspirations of those districts which were believed to have been left behind in the development journey.

"We are promoting roads, healthcare, education, employment and nutrition in over 110 Aspirational Districts that were lacking on the development matrix. Many of these districts are in tribal areas

"We are working hard to ensure these districts reach the level of all other districts in India," the prime minister said.

In the last few years, villages have been rapidly changing and have been provided with facilities like roads and electricity, he said.

Talking about the digital connectivity in rural areas, Modi said now the villages are connected with optical fibre network. Internet is reaching villages and digital entrepreneurs are being prepared in villages too.

Praising women self-help groups, Modi said there are more than eight crore women in the villages who are associated with them.

These women make various products and now the government will prepare an e-commerce platform for their products to get a big market in the country and abroad, he said.

Govt to supply fortified rice to poor by 2024: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced that the government will fortify the rice distributed to the poor via different schemes such as Midday Meal in a bid to address the problem of malnutrition.

"Malnutrition and lack of micro-nutrients are affecting the growth of poor children. Looking at this, it has been decided to fortify the rice given to the poor via different government schemes," Modi said in his Independence Day speech.

Modi, who hoisted the tricolour at the historic Red Fort before the speech, said whether through ration shops or the Midday Meal scheme, the rice made available under every government programme will be fortified by the year 2024.

Currently, out of the 15 states identified for the 'Central scheme on fortified rice and its distribution via public distribution system (PDS)', five are implementing it in one district each on a pilot basis.

Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have started distributing fortified rice -- mixed with nutrients -- in their respective identified district.

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