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Indian Prime Minister Marks Independence Day With Pledge To Wipe Out Graft

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his address during the country's 71st Independence Day celebrations, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule, at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged India's people to help him build a prosperous and united country, promising to wipe out corruption and institute good governance.

In an hourlong speech August 15 to mark the 70th anniversary of India's independence from British rule, Modi pledged to bring in transparency to end decades of graft.

"We may have grown up in despair, but now we have to move ahead with confidence," he said as he addressed the nation from the Red Fort, a sprawling 17th century fortress in the heart of New Delhi.

Modi hailed his government efforts in recent months, including the surprise withdrawal of large currency notes and an overhaul of taxes on goods and services that he said had brought billions of dollars of unaccounted money into the mainstream economy.

Modi also said India is strong enough to defend its borders against any threat as the nation faces tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.

A months-long dispute with China over a strategic Himalayan plateau has seen hundreds of soldiersfacing off against each other at Doklam.

The giant neighbours share a long history of mistrust and went to war in 1962 over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, where it has disputed sovereignty with Pakistan since their bitter split in 1947.

India accuses Pakistan of sending "terrorists" across the border to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP