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Dear Friends,

On the evening of the 19th, my trip to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji concluded. While on the way back I was reflecting on the last ten days - what did we achieve, what were the outcomes for India and that is when I thought I should also share some thoughts with you through my Blog.

To begin with, it is vital to understand the historic uniqueness of this visit.

In the case of Australia, this was the first bilateral visit by a Prime Minister of India in 28 years. Fiji witnessed such a visit almost 33 years back. On one hand, the IT and Communication revolution brought the world closer but on the other hand, we could not reach the shores of these two countries, each important in its own way, for almost three decades.

I thought this must change.

I attended five Summits including the one with leaders of Pacific Islands that I hosted in Fiji and met 38 world leaders. The number of full bilateral meetings I had stands at 20. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet leaders from every part of the world! These meetings were frank, comprehensive and fruitful. We covered substantial ground on several issues. I met a wide range of business leaders as well.

During these bilateral meetings, I noticed one thing- that the world is looking at India with renewed respect and immense enthusiasm! I see a global community that is tremendously keen to engage with India.

With every leader, we discussed how we could make our relations more extensive, diverse and wide-ranging. Strengthening trade and commerce and drawing industry to India was a central part of the discussion.Numerous leaders I met were very optimistic about our ‘Make in India’ initiative and are keen to come to India and be a part of the extensive and diverse opportunities India has to offer. I see this as a positive sign, one that will bring several opportunities to India’s youth and give them the right exposure that will make them shine. Such exposure has become imperative keeping in mind the pace at which the world is developing. Several world leaders also showed keenness on our plans to create ‘Next Gen Infrastructure’ and smart cities.

I had the opportunity to address the Parliaments of Australia and Fiji during this visit.

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Coming from the world’s largest democracy, it is always heartening to visit these temples of democracies and to share thoughts from within the hallowed portals of their four walls. There is no bond that is stronger than a bond between two democracies. On one hand it gave me an opportunity to reach out to the wider political leadership of these nations and on the other hand it opened new avenues for co-operation. Once again, the lawmakers were very upbeat about India.

Both addresses were a first for any Indian Prime Minister. In fact, I was told that my address to the Fijian Parliament was a first by any world leader. This is not a personal achievement, but it is a reflection on the respect that the 125 crore people of India have in the eyes of the global community.

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At the G-20 Summit, India placed the issue of existence and repatriation of black money at the forefront of the world community.

I am glad that the world community took note of this because this is an issue that does not selectively affect one nation. The menace of black money has the potential to destabilize world peace and harmony. Black money also brings with it terrorism, money laundering and narcotics trade. As democracies firmly committed to the rule of law, it becomes our obligation to collectively fight this evil and there was no better occasion than the G-20 to raise this. Our efforts paid off with the official communiqué reflecting this issue.

The ASEAN Summit was an opportunity to engage with the Leadership of ASEAN nations as we discussed how to deepen engagement both as a group of nations and with each Nation individually.

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It is my conviction that ASEAN and India can explore new frontiers together. We share the bonds of culture and history and at the same time are blessed with the vigour and energy of our youth.

I discussed affordable housing with PM Razak of Malaysia, energy issues with the Sultan of Brunei and urban development issues with PM Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore.

In Fiji I met with leaders of the Pacific Island Nations. This is a region that is important to us. I am very happy to have taken a significant and concrete step towards stronger bilateral relations with each of these nations individually. There is a lot we can do for these nations and there is a lot we can learn from them.

Wherever I went, I witnessed immense warmth from the people. I am extremely grateful to President Thein Sein, Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Bainimarama the leaders of the three nations who hosted me.

My individual meetings with them also covered significant ground on how to take relations with our respective nations ahead.

With President Thein Sein my talks were centered around the 3Cs of culture, commerce and connectivity. Prime Minister Abbott and I made unprecedented progress in the areas of energy, culture, and security and are moving very positively on the issue of nuclear energy. The Framework for Security Cooperation is a fitting recognition of the increasing security ties with Australia. There will be a ‘Make in India’ roadshow next year to invite Australia companies to India. During my meeting with Australian business leaders, I could see their willingness and eagerness to invest in India and such a roadshow will surely be very valuable in this context.

On a personal note, the affection from the Indian community was touching. Be it in Myanmar, Australia and Fiji, I will not be able to describe their warmth in words. I could see that they were proud of India and of the changes happening in India. I could see dreams and expectations in their eyes. As I said during the Indian community programme in Sydney, we are fully aware of the expectations and we will leave no stone unturned in creating the India of their dreams.

There was immense glee on the faces of our diaspora when I announced the visa-on-arrival facilities and the OCI and PIO merger in Australia and Fiji. It is our aim to make the diaspora an integral part of our development journey and since the last few months we have channelized our efforts in this regard. We want to create an environment where our diaspora also feel that they can contribute towards India’s development. That is also the reason I urged NRIs to keep sharing their views and thoughts on www.mygov.in.

I fondly remember the reception at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was very kind of PM Abbott to specially fly down to Melbourne and host the reception, where cricketing greats including Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, VVS Laxman, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Dean Jones and Glenn McGrath joined.

Friends, my eastward travels over the past few days have been a reminder to me of what the world expects from India.

I saw in their eyes a desire to see India playing its part for a peaceful, stable and developed global community.

I also saw a reflection of the energy of our youth, keeping pace with rapid changes across the world.

I am convinced, with even greater consciousness, of the positive difference India can make on the world stage.

The world is looking at India with renewed enthusiasm.

We must reciprocate with a renewed commitment to our shared values and goals.

Together we shall script a better future for India and the rest of the world.

 Yours,

Narendra Modi

More information relating to the visit

Myanmar

Bilateral with President Thein Sein

Meeting with Aung San Swu Kyi

Indian Community reception

Videos from PM's visit to Myanmar

Opening Statement by the PM at India-ASEAN summit

G20

Speeches and Interventions

Text speeches

G20 bilateral/retreats

Australia

QUT

Addressing Australian businessmen in Brisbane and Melbourne

Meetings with Tony Abbott

Meetings with Australian political leaders

Address to Australian Parliament

Indian Community programme

War Memorial

Videos from PM's visit to Australia

Fiji

Welcome ceremony

Address to Parliament

Address to University

Videos from PM's visit to Fiji

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Tribute to a great unifier: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel can justly be regarded as the maker of modern India
October 31, 2018
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The first half of 1947 was a critical period in India’s history. The end of colonial rule was certain and so was India’s Partition, but what was uncertain was whether there would be more than one division. Prices were rising, food shortages were common but over and above everything else, the unity of India was under severe strain.

It was in these circumstances that the States Department came into being in June 1947. Among the chief aims of this department was to give impetus and top priority to negotiations vis-à-vis India’s relationship with the over 550 princely states, which were as diverse as they could get, be it in size, population, terrain or economic situation. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi remarked, “The problem of the states is so difficult that YOU alone can solve it.”

In vintage Sardar Patel style, he went about his work with precision, firmness and administrative efficiency. Time was less and the task was herculean … but this was no ordinary person, it was Sardar Patel, who was determined not to let his nation down. One by one, he and his team negotiated with the princely states and ensured that they all became a part of free India.

Illustration: Ajit Ninan

It was due to round-the-clock effort of Sardar Patel that the map of India is what it is today!

Once freedom was won, VP Menon, it is said, wanted to retire from government service, only to be told by Sardar Patel that this was neither the time to rest nor the time to retire. Such was Sardar Patel’s firm resolve. VP Menon was made the Secretary of the States Department. In his book ‘The Story of the Integration of Indian States’, he writes about how Sardar Patel led from the front and inspired the entire team to work assiduously. He also writes that Sardar Patel was clear – first and foremost came the interests of the people of India, there would be no compromise on that.

On August 15, 1947, we celebrated the dawn of a new destiny but the work of nation building was far from complete. As independent India’s first home minister, he set the stage for an administrative framework that continues to serve the nation be it in matters of day to day governance or protecting the interests of the people, particularly the poor and marginalised.

Sardar Patel was a veteran administrator. His own experience in governance, particularly in the 1920s when he served the Ahmedabad municipality, was extremely handy when he worked towards strengthening independent India’s administrative framework. While in Ahmedabad, he did commendable work in furthering cleanliness in the city. He ensured clean and functioning drainage systems across the city. He also focussed on other aspects of urban infrastructure such as roads, electricity and education.

Today, if India is known for a vibrant cooperative sector, a large part of the credit goes to Sardar Patel. The roots of Amul can be traced back to his vision for empowering local communities, particularly women. It was Sardar Patel who also popularised the idea of cooperative housing societies, thus ensuring dignity and shelter for many.

Two traits synonymous with Sardar Patel are trust and integrity. The farmers of India had unparalleled faith in him. After all, he was a kisan putra, who led from the front during the Bardoli satyagraha. The working class saw him as a ray of hope, a leader who would speak up for them. Traders and industrialists preferred to work with Sardar Patel because they felt here was a stalwart who had a vision for India’s economic and industrial growth.

His political peers too trusted him. Acharya Kripalani remarked that whenever they faced an issue and if Bapu’s guidance was not available, they would turn to Sardar Patel. When political negotiations were at their peak in 1947, Sarojini Naidu called him “the man of decision and man of action”. Everyone trusted him, his words and his actions. Sardar Patel continues to be respected across caste, creed, faith, age!

This year’s Sardar Jayanti is even more special. With the blessings of 130 crore Indians, the Statue of Unity is being inaugurated today. Situated on the banks of the Narmada, the ‘Statue of Unity’ is the tallest in the world. ‘Dharti Putra’ Sardar Patel will stand tall in the skies, to guide us and inspire us.

I congratulate all those who have worked day and night to ensure that this grand statue in tribute of Sardar Patel becomes a reality. My mind goes back to October 31, 2013, when we laid the foundation stone for this ambitious project. In record time, a project of such scale has become ready and this should make every Indian proud. I urge you all to visit the Statue of Unity in the times to come.

The Statue of Unity is a symbol of both the unity of hearts and the geographical integrity of our motherland. It is a reminder that divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory.

Sardar Patel worked with astonishing speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism. He saved India from Balkanisation and integrated even the weakest of limbs into the national framework. Today, we, the 130 crore Indians, are working shoulder to shoulder to build a New India that is strong, prosperous and inclusive. Every decision is being taken to ensure that the fruits of development reach the most vulnerable, without any corruption or favouritism, just as Sardar Patel would have wanted it.