On stage, the country's first woman Foreign Minister Sister Sushma Swaraj ji, General V.K Singh ji, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe ji and all the dignitaries from various countries present here today. I welcome you all from the bottom of my heart. I welcome you not only as the Prime Minister of India but also as a Lok Sabha representative from Uttar Pradesh that you visited yesterday.
There is a belief in the Hindu tradition. If you greet a person who has just returned from a pilgrimage, you too will get a part of the virtue acquired by that person. I am glad that you all have been on a pilgrimage to a priceless cultural heritage. And today I have got the opportunity to greet you. So, I too have acquired a part of the virtue accumulated by you.
You are more fortunate than I am because I have not yet been able to visit this year's Kumbh. You have already been there but I will be going there tomorrow. There is hardly any Kumbh that I have not attended. I will go there tomorrow.
No one could guess the enormity of this heritage unless one visits the Kumbh Congregation. And it is being held on a specific date and according to a definite time table for thousands of years. There is no invitation card, no guest and no host. Yet devotees from around the world and throughout the country reach the Kumbh venue. This is something extraordinary! For thousands of years, people reach the Kumbh venue without any invitation or letter.
And the Kumbh with which all of you have been so much influenced; the Kumbh that has touched your hearts is not even Purn Kumbh (full Kumbh) but Ardha Kumbh (Half Kumbh). And you are well aware of that. If the strength and impact of Ardha Kumbh is so much, you can very well guess the impact that the Purn Kumbh will create!
Culturally, unity in India has been stressed upon much. This confluence is not only for spiritual inspiration but is also a part of movement for social reformation. This is in a way Panchayat or the democratic framework of that era because the spiritual leaders, social leaders or academicians working in public life used to roam around for three years in their region. They used to meet people and converse with them and there used to be a small Kumbh in every three years. And all of them used to sit together and debate and discuss about things going on within India for 40-45 days. They used to review the period of 12 years to understand what kind of guidance would the society need after 12 years or what changes are required for the society. In a way, it was a perfect democratic system. The information used to flow from bottom to top. Socio-political, religious leaders as well as Kings and rulers used to be there and a roadmap was framed for the next 12 years after a lot of debate and discussion. It was reviewed every 3 years.
This is something really significant which never was revealed to the world. You must have seen in this year's Kumbh as well that there was some or the other social message. The message was for the general good of the people. And you wouldn't have seen any kind of discrimination. Everyone has a right over Ganga. Everyone takes a holy dip in the Ganga. Everyone performs the rituals according to his/her devotion.
India is about to become a tourism destination because the world is looking for peace. Every person wants to spend some time away from the chaos of daily life for internal rejuvenation. Things like wealth, glory, prosperity, good quality hotels influence a person but are not inspiring. He is disillusioned with the impressive world. He is in search of an inspiring world.
And you must have realized in Kumbh that despite lack of mundane resources, how one finds intrinsic bliss and creates life's path. You have seen that for yourself.
And I believe that when you return to your country, people from different backgrounds will ask you about your experience here. Several people wonder why do people spend so much money and attend Kumbh just for taking a dip in the river. What is so special about it? But when one sees the entire scenario and the makeshift arrangements there, then one would get to know about the level of organizing capacity of India.
I was told that daily the information regarding thousands of missing persons and missing children used to reach the centre. As there are crores of people, sometimes a child or an elderly person gets separated from the family. But there was such a perfect mechanism that within an hour or two of receiving the complaint, the missing person was found and reunited with his/her family. Can anyone imagine that?
In a way, people equivalent to a country of Europe gathers at the bank of Ganga daily and all the arrangements are in a makeshift mechanism. That means, this is a subject of case study for the management students and universities as such a huge number of people from different places with different habits, culture and languages have gathered. But this is a system that is able to cater to everyone, is taking care of everyone and is able to fulfil everyone's aspirations. This is a significant event for the people of management.
And it will draw the attention of the world. I congratulate the External Affairs Ministry and especially Sushma ji for this. People used to think that conducting the Kumbh Congregation was just a task. People come and go. But there is a social form of it; there is a managerial aspect to it. There is modernity, technology, a system as well as devotion in it. There is also a cultural consciousness.
The people around the world have seen this amazing Congregation and India has made first such attempt of this magnitude. You all have made a huge contribution in making this effort a success! Therefore, I congratulate you; and I thank you a lot!
India's cultural heritage has an unprecedented ability to attract the world and we are committed to that. With such plans, we wish to connect with the world with this great heritage of India.
And I believe that the world will be able to identify the modern India. And the world will also strive to get acquainted with India's invaluable heritage. There will be Parliamentary elections in the upcoming days. Just like the Kumbh Congregation, its management, makeshift arrangements, and technology-driven system is a centre of attraction; similarly a fair voting process by more than 800 million people is something that draws the attention of the world. This is the world's largest election. And I have told the Election Commission that I will try to ensure that all the countries of the world visit India for election tourism. People from around the world may come in thousands and not only on the day of voting but in any week in the months of March or April or May and experience India's democracy. Two representatives from each country could be present here every week.
It shows how a person in the village is aware of how things work in the country and the way he decides the fate of the nation. The Indian elections are a wonder for the world. Our Kumbh is so powerful that it exhibits managerial capacity while my country's election process, the arrangements for elections depicts such a huge democratic participation. It inspires the people who believe in democracy around the world. And it can also be a good inspiration for those countries that have not yet started moving towards democracy. So, I would like the Election Commission to initiate this and the External Affairs Ministry to provide them with every kind of help. Let the universities, students and democrats from all around the world who believe in democracy, witness and experience the Kumbh of democracy that is going to take place in the coming days. Let them witness the commitment of the common man towards democracy and human values. Let them carry the message of the India that they have seen through their eyes, the real India, the able India, and India that is capable of providing something to the world.
You must have seen the Akshayvat. The people of India have devotion towards it. Even though you are not aware of that devotion, you will at least get to know that Indians are nature-lovers. The society, which has been worshipping a tree for thousands of years, sees god within trees and plants. If people had understood that society, then the world today wouldn't have had to face the problems of climate change or global warming. It was not just worshipping a tree. People of India might know about its mythology but for those who don't know its mythology would understand that we could see god even in the plants and we are so much used to coexisting with nature. Besides coexisting with nature, we have respect and devotion towards nature and this is something inevitable for the humankind. As a result of working against the nature, the humankind is facing such a crisis. Even the solution for coming out of this problem has been provided by this tradition. This is a case study from every angle – be it worshipping Akshayvat, devotion towards river or up to date management. It is a subject of case study for the universities. This is significant in terms of enhancing attraction and the traditions that show path for human welfare. Your arrival on such an important occasion is an extremely proud and joyous moment for me.
I once again welcome you all from the bottom of my heart. And whatever time you will be spending here in India, I hope that you will definitely utilize that time to know and understand India better. And you will go and tell your respective countries that India is different than what is usually said about her. India is more than that. The India you know is ancient India. This is the India that is capable of showing direction to the human race in the future. You will return as Ambassadors of this great tradition in true sense. My best wishes to you all!
Thanks a lot!