My dear countrymen, Namaskar. On the pious festival of Deepawali, greetings to all of you. We are familiar with the lines of the Shlok-
Shubham Karoti Kalyanam, Aarogyam Dhansampadaa. Shatrubudhdhi Vinashaay, Deepajyoti Namostute!!
What a fine, purposeful message! The shlok says: It is Light that ushers in joy, health and prosperity into our lives, dispelling negative thought, bringing in positivity. I salute the divine flame respectfully. To make this Diwali memorable, what could be a better way than an attempt to let light spread its radiance, encouraging positivity, with a prayer to quell the feeling of animosity? These days Diwali is celebrated across many countries. And notably, it is not limited to Indian communities; even governments, citizens and social organisations wholeheartedly celebrate Diwali with gaiety and fervour. In a way, they nurture a microcosm of India at their respective places.
Friends, festival tourism has its own exciting attractions. Our India, the country of festivals, possesses limitless possibilities in the realm of festival tourism. It must be our endeavour to ensure that we should welcomingly include people of other states, other countries when we celebrate Holi, Diwali, Onam, Pongal or Bihu, spreading their true spirit. Here, every state, every region is replete with distinct festivals, generating a lot of interest in people from other countries. Hence, the Indian Diaspora has a significant role to play in promoting festival tourism in India .
My dear countrymen, in the previous episode of Mann Ki Baat, we had decided to do something different this Diwali. I had urged all of you to celebrate India’s Nari-Shakti, the power and achievement of women, thereby felicitating the Lakshmi of India. And within no time, there followed a slew of innumerable inspirational stories on social media. Kodipaka Ramesh from Warangal has written on Namo App-“My mother is my strength. In 1990, when my father expired, the responsibility to raise five sons fell on her shoulders. Today, all five brothers are doing well in their respective professions. My mother is God to me. She is the Lakshmi of India in every sense of the term.” Ramesh ji , respectful greetings to your mother. Geetika Swami, who is active on Twitter, says that for her, Major Khushbu Kanwar, daughter of a bus conductor, who has led an all women contingent of Assam Rifles, is the Lakshmi of India. For Kavita Tiwari, her daughter is the Lakshmi of India, her strength. She is proud of her daughter’s excellent painting ability. She has also secured a good rank in the CLAT exam. Whereas Megha Jain has mentioned that a 92 year old woman has been offering free drinking water to passengers at Gwalior Railway Station. Megha Ji is truly inspired by the humility and compassion of this Lakshmi of India. Many such stories have been shared by people. Do read them, get inspired and share similar instances. I respectfully salute all the Lakshmis of India.
My dear countrymen, the well known 17th century poetess Sanchi Honnamma has penned a poem in Kannada that embodies the same thought, the same words pertaining to every Lakshmi of India that we referred to. One feels the foundation of the idea was laid in the 17th century itself. You will notice the beauty of word, sentiment and thought in this poem in Kannada:
(Penninda permegondanu himavantanu.
Penninda broohu perchidanu
Penninda janakaraayanu jasuvalendanu)
Which means, Himwant, Lord Mount attained fame on account of daughter Parvati, Rishi Brighu on account of his daughter Lakshmi and King Janak because of daughter Sita. Our daughters are our pride…their prodigious virtuosity cradles our social fabric, ensuring its bright future.
My dear countrymen, the 12th of November, 2019 is the day when the 550th Prakashotsav of Guru Nanak dev ji will be celebrated across the world. The luminescence of Guru Nanak Dev ji’s influence can be felt not only in India but around the world. Many of our Sikh brothers and sisters settled in other countries committedly follow Guru Nanak dev ji’s ideals. I can never forget my visits to Gurudwaras in Vancouver and Tehran. There is much about Guru Nanak Dev ji that I can share with you, but it will require many an episode of Mann ki Baat. He accorded the highest significance to the spirit of service. Guru Nank Dev ji firmly believed that any service done selflessly was beyond evaluation. He stood firm against social ills such as untouchability. Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji radiated his message to all corners of the world. He was the widest travelled of those times. And wherever he went he won hearts through his straightforwardness, humility and simplicity. Guru Nanak Ji undertook many significant spiritual journeys called ‘Udaasi’. Carrying the message of harmony and equality, he travelled north, south, east and west, meeting people, saints and sages. It is said that the revered Assamese saint Shankar Dev too was inspired by him. He also travelled to the holy land of Haridwar. There is a holy place in Kashi named ‘Gurubagh Gurudwara’. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji had halted there. He also went to Buddhist holy sites such as Rajgir and Gaya. His journeys to the south took him to Sri Lanka, as well. During his Yatra to Bidar, Karnataka, he devised a solution for water woes the place was grappling with. Gurunanak Jhira Sahib is a famous place in Bidar dedicated to him, cherishing reminiscences of him. During one Udaasi, Gurunanak Dev Ji travelled north to Kashmir and neighboring areas. This forged a strong bond between Sikh followers and Kashmir. Guru Nanak Dev Ji also went to Tibet where people accorded him the status of a Guru. He is revered in Uzbekistan too, which he had visited. During one Udaasi, he widely travelled to Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He secured a revered place in the hearts of millions who followed his messages with complete devotion, a practice that continues even in the present times. Just a few days ago, Ambassadors of approximately eighty-five countries went to Amritsar from Delhi. There in the Golden Temple itself, they undertook a holy Darshan, commemorating the 550th Prakash Parv of Guru Nanak Devji. Besides Darshan, all these Ambassadors had the opportunity to know more about Sikh traditions and culture. Following that, many Ambassadors shared those photos on social media, writing about their glorious experiences.It’s my devout wish to imbibe Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s thoughts and ideals into our lives; may we be all the more inspired to make it happen.
He was a ‘Man of Detail’ in the true sense of the term. Along with that, he was also adept at organising skills. Chalking out plans and devising strategies was his core forte’. When we read and hear about Sardar Saheb’s style of working, we come to know of the sheer magnitude of the meticulousness in his planning. In 1921, in the Congress Session in Ahmedabad, thousands of delegates from across the country were slated to participate. Sardar Patel was entrusted with overlooking all the arrangements. He utilized this opportunity in improving the city’s water supply network. He ensured that not a single person would face a problem on account of water. Not just that, he was also concerned about the safety and security of the delegates’ shoes and baggage. To ensure that, what he did will surprise you.He contacted farmers and urged them to craft khadi bags. These were made and sold to the delegates. They carried the bags with their shoes inside, free from any tension of the footwear getting stolen. On the other hand, it led to a major rise in the sale of khadi. Our country will always be indebted to Sardar Patel for his steller role in the Constituent Assembly. He strove to ensure enshrinement of fundamental rights that obliterated any possibility of discrimination on the basis of caste and community. My dear brothers and sisters, I am sure all of you remember the significance of the 31st of October. This day marks the birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the unifying force in bonding us as a Nation; our Hero.On the one hand Sardar Patel, possessed the rare quality of uniting people; on the other, he was able to strike a balance with people who were not in ideological agreement with him. Sardar Patel used to observe even the minutest of things in-depth; assessing and evaluating them simultaneously.
Friends, all of us know that as India’s first home minister, Sardar Patel undertook the colossal, historic task of integrating Princely states. Scrutinizing the minutest of events closely was his rare quality. On the one hand, he concentrated on Hyderabad, Junagarh and other States; on the other, he was watching far flung Lakshadweep intently. Actually, when we refer to Sardar Patel’s endeavour, his role in the unification of just a few notable States is discussed. He played a far more significant role, when it came to a small region such as Lakshadweep too. Lakshadweep is one of the most beautiful landscapes in India. Soon after Partition in 1947, our neighbour had cast an eye on Lakshadweep; a ship bearing their flag was sent there. When Sardar Patel was informed of this, he wasted no time in initiating stern action. He urged the Mudaliar brothers, Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar and Arcot Laxman Swamy Mudaliar to immediately undertake a mission with people of Travancore to Lakshadweep and take the lead in unfurling the Tricolour there. Following his orders, the Tricolour was promptly unfurled there and the nefarious dreams of the neighbour of annexing Lakshadweep were decimated within no time. After this incident, Sardar Patel asked the Mudaliar brothers to personally ensure all assistance for development of Lakshadweep. Today, Lakshadweep is contributing significantly in India’s progress. It is an attractive tourist destination too. I hope you get the opportunity to visit the picturesque islands and its pristine beaches.
My dear countrymen, the 31st of October, 2018, is the day when the ‘Statue of Unity’,in memory of Sardar Saheb was dedicated to the nation and the world. It is the tallest statue in the world. It is double in height compared to the ‘Statue of Liberty’ located in the US. The distinction of having the world’s highest statue fills every Indian with pride; the head of every Indian is held high. You will be happy to note that in a year, more than 26 lakh tourists visited the ‘Statue of Unity’. This means that an average of eight and a half thousand people witnessed the grandeur of the ‘Statue of Unity’ every day. The reverence and devotion for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in their hearts was reflected in the form of homage paid to him. Besides, at present,it houses many centres of attraction such as Cactus Garden, Butterfly Garden, Jungle Safari, and Children’s Nutrition Park, Ekta Nursery, which are all constantly evolving and providing a fillip to the local economy. Local people are not only getting innovative opportunities of employment but for the convenience of visiting tourists, many villagers are providing facilities like home stays. And these hosts are being professionally trained in the technique of running a home stay. The locals have now started the cultivation of Dragon fruit and I am sure that it will soon become a major source of livelihood for the people there.
Friends, for our nation and the constituent states, as well as for the tourism industry, this ‘Statue of Unity’ can be a subject of research. We are all witness to the fact that how within a year a place developed as a world famous tourism destination. People arrive there from the country and abroad. And one after the other, ancillary services like transport, lodging, guides and eco-friendly services are getting inducted by themselves. A large economy is developing and people are generating facilities as per the requirement of the tourists. The government is also playing its role. Friends, which Indian will not be imbued with pride for the fact that recently, Time magazine has included the ‘Statue of Unity’in its list of 100 important tourist destinations around the world. Of course I hope, that all of you will devote some of your precious time to visit the ‘Statue of Unity’. But my appeal is, that every Indian who takes out time to travel must visit at least 15 Tourist Destinations of India with family and experience a night stay at whichever place you go to; this still remains my appeal.
Friends, as you know that 31st October every year since 2014 has been celebrated as ‘National Unity Day’. This day imparts the message to protect the unity, integrity and security of our country at any cost. On 31st October, this year too ‘Run for Unity’ is being organized in consonance with previous years. It will include people from all walks of life, from every segment of our society. ‘Run for Unity’ is a symbol of unison, that the nation being united, is moving in one direction and collectively aims for- One goal! Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat!
The last five years have witnessed – not only in Delhi but in hundreds of cities of India, union territories, state capitals, district centres, even in small cities belonging to tier two or tier three categories, innumerable men, women, be they the city folk, village folk, children, the youth, the elderly, divyang, all are participating in‘Run for Unity’in large numbers. Anyway, at present, people have adopted and found a passion for the marathon. ‘Run for Unity’ is also one such unique provision. Running is beneficial for the mind, body and soul. During ‘Run for Unity’not only do we have to run, but in doing so the spirit of FIT India is also reflected. We also find ourselves connected with Ek Bharat- Shrestha Bharat! And so, not just our body, but our mind and value system get integrated with ushering unity in India to take India to loftier heights! And so, in whichever city you reside, you can find out about the ‘Run for Unity’ schedule. A portal namely runforunity.gov.in has also been launched for dissemination of information about this event. In this portal, information has been provided about the venues where ‘Run for Unity’ is to be organized across the country. I hope you will all run on October 31st –not only for the unity of India, but also for your physical fitness!
My dear countrymen, Sardar Patel integrated the nation with the thread of unison. This mantra of unity is like a sacrament in our life and in a country like ours filled with diversities, we should continue to strengthen this mantra of unison on all paths, at every bend, and at every pit-stop. My dear countrymen, our nation has always been very proactive and alert in strengthening unity and communal harmony in the country. If we look around us, we will find many examples of individuals who have been working ceaselessly to foster communal harmony. But sometimes it so happens, that the efforts of the society and its contribution, get wiped from our collective memory.
Friends, I remember when the Allahabad High Court gave its verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi in September 2010. You could jog your memory a bit and reflect about the atmosphere then. Various kinds of people took to the arena! Various interest groups were playing games to take advantage of that situation in their own way! The kind of language that was spoken in order to generate tension in the atmosphere! There was also an attempt to instill shrillness in the tone of different speakers. Some of the loudmouths and the braggarts had the sole intention of hogging the spotlight at that time. And we all know what kind of irresponsible talk was floating around! But this scenario had continued for five days, or seven days, or ten days, but, the delivery of the court’s decision generated a pleasant and surprising change of mood in the country.
On the one hand, the machinations went on to generate tension for week or two, but, when the decision was taken on Ram Janmabhoomi, the government, political parties, social organizations, civil society, representatives of all sects and saints gave restrained and balanced statements. There were attempts to reduce the tension in the sociopolitical environment. But I remember that day vividly. And whenever I do that, I get happy that the dignity of the judiciary was very proudly honoured and no allowance for any heated discourse or tension was made anywhere. These incidents should always be remembered as they impart us a lot of strength. That day, that moment, instills in us all a sense of duty. It is an example of how the voice of unison can bestow strength upon our country.
My dear countrymen, on 31st October, on the same day… the former Prime Minister of our country Smt Indira ji was assasinated. It was a traumatic moment for our country. Today, I pay homage to her too.
My dear countrymen, today, if one story that rings from home to home, and rings far and wide,is heard from north to south, east to west and from every corner of India, then that IS the story of cleanliness and sanitation. Every person, every family, every village wants to narrate their pleasant experiences in relation to the cleanliness mission, because behind this effort of cleanliness is the effort of 125 crore Indians.
The outcome also belongs to 125 crore Indians. But therein lies a pleasant and interesting experience too. I heard it and I think, I will share it with you too. Just imagine the highest battlefield in the world, where the temperature drops from zero to 50-60 degrees minus. Oxygen in the air is also at a miniscule level. Living in the midst of such adverse conditions and challenges is not less than any display of valour. In such a difficult situation, our brave heart soldiers are not only protecting the borders of the country, but are also running a ‘Swacch Siachen’ campaign in that arena.
On behalf of our countrymen, I commend the Indian Army for this amazing commitment. I also express my gratitude. It is so cold there that its near impossible for anything to decompose. In such a situation, the segregation and management of garbage is a very important task in itself. In this scenario, to remove 130 tons and more of garbage from the glacier and its surrounding area’s fragile eco-system is a great service! It is an eco-system which is home to rare species like the snow leopard and rare animals like ibex and brown bears. We all know that Siachen as a glacier is a source of rivers and clean water. Therefore, running a cleanliness campaign here means ensuring clean water for those who live in low-lying areas and also use the water of rivers like Nubra and Shyok.
My dear countrymen, festivals are occasions that awaken a new consciousness in our lives. And especially during Diwali, it is customary in every family to buy something new, get something from the market in smaller or larger quantity. I had once said that we should try to buy local products. There is no need to go to the tehsil if our need is met in our village. If it is found in Tehsil, then there is no need to go to the district. The more we try to buy our local things; the ‘Gandhi 150’ will become a great event in itself. And I keep insisting that we must buy some handloom products made by our weavers, our khadi artisans.
Even during this Diwali, you must have bought quite a few or a lot of things before Diwali. But there are many people who think that if they go shopping after Diwali then may be they could get a good bargain. So there will be many people, who still have their shopping left. Hence along with the best of wishes on Deepawali, I would urge you to come forward and become a patron of local things and buy local. And witness for ourselves, how we can play an important role in making Mahatma Gandhi’s dream come alive. I once again wish you all the very best on this auspicious festival of Diwali. In Diwali we burst fire crackers of all kinds! But, sometimes fire is caused due to carelessness. An injury can also occur. I urge all of you to take utmost care of yourself and also celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm. I extend many felicitations to you.
Thank you very much.