Business representatives from India and Sri Lanka,

Distinguished guests,

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (3)

I am delighted to be here at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you for coming here in such large numbers.

It is a real honour to visit Sri Lanka.

Over the course of these two days, I will meet people from all walks of life.

For me, this is one of the most important meetings in Sri Lanka.

This is because no matter how old and strong the relationship is, economic cooperation is often the locomotive that gives it momentum.

It is also important because for all of us in our region, the most important priority is transforming the lives of our people.

Our path will be determined by our economic choices and the quality of governance. But, business enterprises will remain critical for our success.

I often say that a nation`s fortunes are linked to its neighbourhood. There are many in India who would argue that India is too large to need her neighbours. There are many in our region who worry that India`s economic size will hurt them.

I disagree with both views.

For one, we all need a stable and peaceful neighbourhood to concentrate on national development.

I also believe that countries do better when the entire region moves together.

I said at the SAARC Summit that barriers of boundaries inhibit progress; international partnerships give it speed. That is why we see a rising tide of regional integration and cooperation across the world.

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (2)

Our region is rich in resources. We constitute a large market. We complement each other. Therefore, our cooperation can be of huge benefit to all of us. There are already powerful examples in South Asia that show us that difference in size is no constraint to beneficial partnerships, if we use our strengths and seize our opportunities.

Bhutan benefits from hydropower exports to India. Nepal has significant manufacturing exports to India – in part driven by Indian investors. Infrastructure, energy, supply chains, traditional handicrafts, modern manufacturing, tourism and services – there are no limits to our possibilities.

I hardly need to tell this informed audience about the transformation unleashed in India over the past ten months. There is new purpose and clarity in our policies; a new vision for inclusive development; new standards in our governance; and, a new level of energy in our economy. Last quarter, India was the fastest growing global economy. We are confident that we can grow even faster.

The progress of one-sixth of humanity is a major economic opportunity for the world.

The global confidence in India has been restored. The world`s engagement with India is at a new level. But, the first claim on us should be that of India`s neighbours. And, I will be happy if India is a catalyst for economic growth in our own region. That is why I speak of a neighbourhood where trade, investment, ideas and people move easily across the borders.

And, as I said in Kathmandu, Nepal, in November, India will do its part for the region. We will work to integrate our markets more. We will make trade smoother and possible through the most direct routes. We will invest in regional connectivity. And, we will share our capabilities in science and technology with South Asia, from advanced medicines to disaster management or space science.

As a friend and neighbor, we attach the highest importance to Sri Lanka`s economic progress.

Sri Lanka is a nation of many achievements and great strengths. It has education, skills and enterprise. It has an excellent location. And, it has won peace now. Sri Lankan businesses have shown that they can compete with the best in the world. Our garments and tea industry know that!

We are pleased to be Sri Lanka`s largest trading partner and one its largest sources of investment. Our Free Trade Agreement in 2000 was a pioneering initiative in the region. It has given a big boost to our trade. Sri Lanka`s exports to India have grown sixteen times – yes, sixteen times – since then. This is impressive by any standards.

I know there are concerns here about the huge trade imbalance. I am prepared to work with you to address them. I want balanced growth in trade. We will try to make it easier and smoother for you to access the Indian market. That is part of my philosophy of ease of doing business in India. Our agreement on Customs cooperation is a step in that direction.

India is opening up to the world. We offer duty free access to Least Developed Countries, including in South Asia. And, India has Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN and others.

We should ensure that Sri Lanka does not fall behind in the changing and competitive world. That is why India and Sri Lanka should move boldly to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. You should also attract investments from India for exports to India. That should be the natural outcome of our proximity and your strengths.

Indian investments can also upgrade and expand your infrastructure. It is also natural that Indian investors are more likely to invest here because of familiarity and proximity. They are already here. And, I know that there are many large commitments in the pipeline. They are looking for your support.

During this visit, I am pleased with progress on Sampur Thermal Power Project and the Trincomalee Oil Farm. That is good for Sri Lanka`s energy security and for our partnership.

Sustainable development of the Ocean Economy can be a huge area for cooperation.

I also believe that when we connect the lives of people, we strengthen the bonds between nations. We have extended visa on arrival facility to Sri Lanka from April 14. We should do more to connect our countries by air and sea.

India and Sri Lanka were, in some ways, better connected in the past than we are now! In the past, a person could buy a rail ticket in Colombo and travel to Chennai by rail and ferry! Air India`s decision to launch direct flight between our capitals will help reverse that trend.

Tourism unites people and creates economic opportunities. India is already the biggest source of tourists here. We will work together to increase that flow.

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (1)

In conclusion, let me return to the point I had made at the beginning. India`s progress gives us the ability to create opportunities for our neighbours. Our development partnership has injected commitments of 1.6 billion dollars in assistance from India. That has helped rebuild and upgrade infrastructure in Sri Lanka.

Today, we have offered another Line of Credit of about 318 million dollars for the railways sector. Reserve Bank of India has agreed to provide Central Bank of Sri Lanka a currency swap arrangement for 1.5 billion dollars. This will increase the stability of Sri Lankan Rupee.

It is not just in development partnership. We will also be supportive in advancing your commercial interests. I believe in Sri Lanka`s capabilities. We should engage more. We should open up to each other more.

We should move forward with greater belief in our own strengths; more trust in each other; and, with more confidence in the fruits of our partnership.

As I was saying before, Sri Lanka has the potential to be our most important economic partner in the region. We count on your support to make it happen.

Thank you and wish you all the best. Thank you very much.

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আমাদের ‘চলতা হ্যায়’ মানসিকতা ছেড়ে ‘বদল সাকতা হ্যায়’ চিন্তায় উদ্বুদ্ধ হতে হবে: প্রধানমন্ত্রী
Reading the letter from PM Modi para-swimmer and author of “Swimming Against the Tide” Madhavi Latha Prathigudupu, gets emotional

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Reading the letter from PM Modi para-swimmer and author of “Swimming Against the Tide” Madhavi Latha Prathigudupu, gets emotional

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উত্তরপ্রদেশের ডাবল ইঞ্জিন সরকার বহু কর্ম যোগীর কয়েক দশকের কঠোর পরিশ্রমের ফল: প্রধানমন্ত্রী
October 25, 2021
স্বাধীনতার পরবর্তী সময়ে দেশে স্বাস্থ্য পরিকাঠামো ক্ষেত্রে বিশেষ নজর দেওয়া হয়নি। এরজন্য নাগরিকদের যথাযথ চিকিৎসা করাতে এক প্রান্ত থেকে আর এক প্রান্তে ছুটে বেড়াতে হয়েছে। ফলে রোগীর অবস্থার অবনতি হয়েছে এবং আর্থিক চাপ বেড়েছে
এখন কেন্দ্রে এবং উত্তরপ্রদেশ রাজ্যে এমন এক সরকার রয়েছে যা দরিদ্র, নিপীড়িত, অনগ্রসর শ্রেণী এবং মধ্যবিত্তের ব্যাথা-বেদনা বোঝে
প্রধানমন্ত্রী আয়ুষ্মান ভারত স্বাস্থ্য পরিকাঠামো মিশনের মাধ্যমে চিকিৎসা থেকে জটিল গবেষণা পর্যন্ত পরিষেবাগুলির জন্য দেশের প্রতিটি প্রান্তে একটি সম্পূর্ণ ইকো ব্যবস্থাপনা তৈরি করা হবে
প্রধানমন্ত্রী আয়ুষ্মান ভারত স্বাস্থ্য পরিকাঠামো হল স্বাস্থ্য ক্ষেত্রের পাশাপাশি একটি আত্মনির্ভরতার অন্যতম মাধ্যম
কাশীর হৃদয় ও মন একই রয়েছে, শুধু শরীরে উন্নতি সাধন করা হয়েছে
আজ প্রযুক্তি থেকে স্বাস্থ্য, বিএইচইউ-তে অভূতপূর্ব সুবিধা তৈরি হয়েছে। সারা দেশ থেকে তরুণ বন্ধুরা এখানে পড়াশোনার জন্য আসছেন

Har Har Mahadev!

May I start with your permission! Greetings to all the brothers and sisters of Kashi, the holy land of Har Har Mahadev, Baba Vishwanath and Mother Annapurna! Happy Diwali, Dev Deepawali, Annakoot, Bhai Duj, Prakashotsav and Chhath to all of you!

Governor of Uttar Pradesh Smt. Anandiben Patel ji, energetic Chief Minister of UP Yogi Adityanath ji, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya ji, other ministers of the UP government, our colleague at the Centre Mahendra Nath Pandey ji, state ministers Anil Rajbhar ji, Neelkanth Tiwari ji, Ravindra Jaiswal ji, other ministers, our colleagues in Parliament Smt Seema Dwivedi ji and B.P. Saroj ji, Mayor of Varanasi Smt Mridula Jaiswal ji, other public representatives, health professionals associated with district hospitals and medical institutes across the country and my brothers and sisters of Banaras.

The country achieved a major milestone of 100 crore vaccine doses in its fight against the corona pandemic. With the blessings of Baba Vishwanath, the unwavering glory of Maa Ganga and the unshakable faith of the people of Kashi, the campaign of free vaccine for all is progressing with success. I respectfully greet all of you. Sometime back today, I got the privilege of dedicating nine new medical colleges to Uttar Pradesh. This will greatly benefit crores of poor, Dalit-backward-exploited-deprived people of Purvanchal and the entire UP, all sections of society, and they will be spared from the troubles of visiting big hospitals in other cities.


There is a verse:

मुक्ति जन्म महि जानि,ज्ञान खानिअघ हानि कर।

जहं बस सम्भु भवानि,सो कासी सेइअ कस न।।

That is, Shiva and Shakti reside in Kashi. Kashi, the powerhouse of knowledge, relieves us from both pain and suffering. Then what better place than Kashi to start such a mega plan related to health and such a huge resolution to get rid of diseases and sufferings? My brothers and sisters of Kashi, two big events are taking place from this platform. First, an Indian government scheme worth more than Rs. 64,000 crores for the entire country is being launched today from the holy land of Kashi. And secondly, projects worth thousands of crores of rupees for the development of Kashi and Purvanchal are being inaugurated. And if we add both these schemes, I can say that projects worth about 75,000 crore rupees are either being launched or dedicated. Mahadev's blessings are also there in these schemes being launched from Kashi. And where there is the blessing of Mahadev, then well-being and success is assured. And when Mahadev's blessings are there, then freedom from suffering is also inevitable.


I have had the privilege of dedicating Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission worth Rs. 64,000 crores to the nation from Kashi to strengthen the health infrastructure of the entire country including UP, to prepare ourselves better for the prevention of pandemics in future and to instill confidence and self-reliance in our health system up to the village and block level. Today infrastructure projects worth Rs 5,000 crore for Kashi have also been inaugurated. This includes projects for beautification of the Ghats, the cleanliness of Ganga and Varuna rivers, bridges, parking places and many other facilities in BHU. This festival of development in this festive season from Kashi to make life easy, healthy and prosperous will give new energy, strength and confidence to the entire country. Many congratulations to all the 130 crore countrymen living across the villages and cities, including Kashi!

Brothers and sisters,

Health is considered to be the basic basis of every action in our country. Investing for a healthy body has always been considered a good investment. But for long after independence, not much attention was paid to health facilities. The governments, which ruled for long in the country, neglected instead of developing the country's healthcare system. There was either no hospital in the villages and if there was one then there was no one to treat. There were no facilities for tests in the block-level hospitals. Even if the test was done, there were doubts about its accuracy. Upon reaching a district hospital, one used to be detected with a serious disease that required surgery. Since there were no such facilities for surgery, one had to rush to a bigger hospital which was crowded and there used to be a long waiting period. We are all witness to the fact that the patient and his entire family used to face a host of problems and as a result a serious illness would worsen and entail a financial burden on the poor.


The huge gap in our healthcare system created an ever-lasting anxiety among the poor and middle class regarding treatment. The Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is a solution to these flaws of the country's healthcare system. Our health system is being prepared today so that we are ready and able to deal with any epidemic in future. Efforts are also made that the disease is detected early and there are no delays in the investigation. The goal is to strengthen the critical healthcare network from village to block, district, regional and national levels in the country in the next four-five years. Special focus is on the states which lack health facilities critically, particularly our North East and hilly states like Uttarakhand and Himachal.


There are three major aspects of the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission to address the different gaps in the health sector of the country. The first relates to the creation of elaborate facilities for diagnostics and treatment. Under this, Health and Wellness Centers are being opened in villages and cities, where there will be facilities for early detection of diseases. Facilities like free medical consultations, free tests and free medicines will be available in these centers. If the disease is detected in time, then there are less chances of it getting malignant. More than 35,000 new beds will be prepared for the treatment of critical illnesses in more than 600 districts. Referral facilities will be provided in the remaining 125 districts. At the national level, a plan is afoot to develop necessary facilities in 12 central hospitals for training and other capacity building. Under this scheme, 15 emergency operation centers running 24x7 will also be created in the states to strengthen the surgery network.


The second aspect of the scheme is related to the testing network for diagnosis of diseases. Under this mission, necessary infrastructure will be developed for the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. Integrated Public Health Labs will be set up in 730 districts and Block Public Health Units in 3,500 identified blocks in the country. Five Regional National Centers for Disease Control, 20 Metropolitan Units and 15 BSL Labs will further strengthen this network.

Brothers and sisters,

The third aspect of this mission is the expansion and empowerment of epidemic related research institutions. At present, there are 80 viral diagnostics and research labs in the country. These will be improved further. Bio-safety level-3 labs are needed in epidemics. Therefore, 15 such new labs will be made operational. Apart from this, four new National Institutes of Virology and one National Institute for One Health are also being established in the country. The WHO's Regional Research Platform for South Asia will also strengthen this network of research. In short, a complete ecosystem from treatment to critical research will be developed in each and every part of the country through the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission.


Well, this should have been done decades ago. But I do not need to describe the situation. We are continuously improving for the last seven years but now it needs to be done on a very large scale and with a very aggressive approach. A few days ago, I launched GatiShakti, a mega nationwide infrastructure program for the entire country, from Delhi. Today this second big mission worth 64,000 crore rupees for health is being launched from the land of Kashi to keep every citizen of the country healthy.


When such a health infrastructure is developed, it not only improves the health service, it also creates a complete employment environment. Doctors, paramedics, labs, pharmacies, cleanliness, offices, travel and transport, food outlets and other such jobs are going to be created through this scheme. We have seen that if a big hospital is built, then a whole city settles around it which becomes the center of livelihood for the activities related to the hospital. It becomes the center of great economic activity. Hence, the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is a medium of health as well as economic self-reliance. This is a part of the efforts being made for holistic healthcare. Holistic healthcare means it should be accessible and affordable to all. Holistic healthcare means where the focus is on health as well as wellness. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jal Jeevan Mission, Ujjwala Yojana, Poshan Abhiyan, Mission Indradhanush, many such campaigns have saved crores of poor of the country from diseases. The Ayushman Bharat scheme has also provided free treatment to more than two crore poor people in the hospitals. Many problems related to treatment are being solved through the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.

Brothers and sisters,

For those who were in the government for long before us, healthcare had been a means of earning money and scams. They kept running away from the troubles of the poor. Today there is a government at the Center and in the state which understands the pain of the poor, downtrodden, oppressed, backward, middle class, everybody. We are working round the clock to improve health facilities in the country. Earlier, public money used to go into scams, and to the chests of such people, today money is being spent in mega projects. Therefore, today the country is also dealing with the biggest pandemic in history and is also building infrastructure worth lakhs of crores of rupees for a self-reliant India.


While increasing the medical facilities, it is necessary that the number of doctors and paramedical staff is also increased in the same proportion. The speed with which new medical colleges are being opened in UP will have a great impact on the number of medical seats and doctors. Due to the increase in the number of seats, now the child of poor parents will also be able to dream of becoming a doctor and fulfill it.

Brothers and sisters,

The country is going to get many more doctors in the next 10-12 years than the number of doctors in the country in 70 years after independence. You can imagine the kind of work happening in the medical field in the country. When there are more doctors, they will be available easily in every nook and corner of the country. This is the new India which has moved beyond scarcities and is in the process to fulfill every aspiration.

Brothers and sisters,

What would be the situation in Kashi today had the pace of work continued in the same way as in the past in the country or in Uttar Pradesh? They had left the world's oldest city Kashi, a symbol of India's cultural heritage, on its own. Hanging electric wires, patchy roads, the plight of Ghats and the Ganges, jams, pollution, chaos was normal. Today the heart and soul of Kashi is the same, but sincere efforts are being made to improve its body. The amount of work done in Varanasi in the last seven years has not been done in the last several decades.

Brothers and sisters,

You have experienced jams in Kashi over the years in the absence of a Ring Road. Waiting for the opening of 'No Entry' had become a habit of the people of Banaras. Now with the opening of the Ring Road, one need not disturb the people of the city while traveling to Prayagraj, Lucknow, Sultanpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Delhi, Kolkata, or anywhere in the country. Moreover, the Ring Road is now connected to the four-lane national highway till Birnon in Ghazipur. There are service road facilities at various places also. This has facilitated the movement in many villages as well as Prayagraj, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Bihar and Nepal. This will not only make travel easier, business will get a boost and the transport cost will also come down.

Brothers and sisters,

Unless there is a dedicated infrastructure in the country, the pace of development remains incomplete. With the two new bridges on the Varuna River, it has become easier for dozens of villages to travel to the city. This will greatly facilitate the people of Prayagraj, Bhadohi and Mirzapur commuting to the airport. Those associated with the carpet industry will also be benefited. It will also facilitate devotees desiring to visit Maa Vindhyavasini by going to Mirzapur directly from the airport. Several projects related to roads, bridges and parking lots have been dedicated to the residents of Kashi today, which will make life easier in and around the city. The modern executive lounge at the railway station will further enhance the convenience of the passengers.


Extensive work has been carried out in the last few years for the cleanliness and purity of Ganga ji, the result of which is in front of us today. Efforts are also being made to ensure that the dirty water from the houses does not enter the Ganges. Now a modern treatment plant has started functioning in Ramnagar to treat sewage flowing from five drains. As a result, more than 50,000 people are getting direct benefit. Along with Ganga ji, Varuna's cleanliness is also being prioritised. Varuna, a victim of neglect for a long time, was on the verge of losing her existence. The channelization plan was worked out to save Varuna. Today clean water is also reaching Varuna and 13 small and big drains are also being treated. Pathways, railings, lighting, pucca ghats, stairs, many such facilities are also being completed on both the banks of the Varuna.


Kashi is an important center of spiritual as well as rural economy. Many facilities have been developed in the last few years to ensure the produce of the farmers of entire Purvanchal including Kashi to the markets of the country and abroad. Modern infrastructure from perishable cargo handling centers to packaging and processing has been developed here. As part of this, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Fruit and Vegetable Market has been modernized and renovated, which will be of great help to the farmers. With the construction of the Bio-CNG plant in Shahanshahpur, biogas along with thousands of metric tonnes of organic manure will also be available to the farmers.

Brothers and sisters,

A major achievement of Kashi in the past few years is the progress of BHU again towards excellence in the world. Unprecedented facilities from technology to health are being developed in BHU. Young people from all over the country are coming here for studies. The residential facilities that have been built here for hundreds of students will also prove to be helpful to them. The hostel facilities especially for hundreds of girl students will give further impetus in realizing the vision of Malviya ji. It will help us to realize his vision of providing higher and modern education to the daughters.

Brothers and sisters,

All these development projects are going to realize our resolve of self-reliance. Kashi and the entire region is known for its amazing clay artists, craftsmen and weavers who create magic on cloth. The production of Khadi and other cottage industries in Varanasi has increased by about 60 percent and sales by about 90 percent in the last five years due to the efforts of the government. Therefore, I would urge all the countrymen to take care of the Diwali of these companions as well. We have to be vocal for the local right from the decoration of our houses, to our clothes and Diwali lamps. If you make a lot of local purchases from Dhanteras to Diwali, everyone's Diwali will be filled with happiness. And when I talk about vocal for local, I have seen that our TV media only shows earthen lamps. Vocal for local is not limited only to lamps. It includes all products in which the sweat of my countrymen is there and has the fragrance of the soil of my country. And once it becomes our habit to buy the country-made products, then production will also increase and so will employment and the poorest of the poor will also get work. We can do this together and we can bring a big change with everyone's efforts.


Once again, many congratulations to the entire country for the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission and to Kashi for many development projects. Once again many advance wishes to all of you for all the upcoming festivals. Thank you very much!