My dear countrymen, Namaste!
I believe you must have had a great time during your Diwali vacations amidst all festivities. You must have had the opportunity to visit some other places. The new trades and jobs would have commenced with renewed vigour. On the other hand Christmas preparations must have started too. Festivals have their own significance in social life. Sometimes festivities help to heal wounds and sometimes they are source of renewed energy. But sometimes when a calamity strikes during festivities then it is very painful and it feels even more. There is continuous news of natural calamities from various parts of the world. And sometimes the news is very bizarre, never seen or never heard of. We are now realizing the effects of climate change very rapidly. In our country itself, we have experienced torrential rains, that too without season and for a very long duration. Tamil Nadu has suffered heavy losses and other states suffered too. Many people lost their lives. My heart goes out to all those people in this hour of crisis. The state governments have braced themselves up for rescue and relief work. The Central government too has joined them in their efforts. Right now, a team of the Central government officials are in Tamil Nadu. But I have full faith in Tamil Nadu’s potential and know that post this crisis it will rise again and speedily move forward and will continue to deliver in its role of taking the country forward.
Now when there are talks of such crisis all around, we feel the need to bring in a lot of change. About 15 years back natural calamity was a part of the Agricultural Ministry’s realm because most of the calamities were limited to famine. But today, its form and format has changed. It has become important to work on our capacity building at every level. The government, civil society, the citizens, and the small organizations will all have to work for capacity building through scientific temperament. After the Nepal earthquake I talked to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. I suggested that the SAARC nations should come together for a joint exercise on disaster preparedness. I am happy that a seminar workshop on table talk exercises and best practices was organized in Delhi. This is a good beginning.
Today, I received a phone call from Lakhwinder Singh from Jalandhar, Punjab. “I am Lakhwinder Singh from Jalandhar, Punjab. We do organic farming in our fields and also guide a lot of others regarding it. I have a question “how to guide people that burning of farm remains or straw not only destroys the micro organisms of the soil but also contributes to the pollution in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. Lakhwinder Singh ji, ‘I am happy to hear your message. I am happy that, you are a farmer engaged in organic farming. And not just that, you also understand the problems of the farmers really well. Your concerns are right but this just does not happen in Punjab and Haryana alone. It is a practice in the entire country and traditionally we follow this method of burning off the remains of the crops or the straw. Initially we were not aware of the damage. We did it because the others did it. Secondly, people are not aware of the available solutions. They have not been trained about it. And this practice kept on spreading and now it is contributing to global climate change. And now we are hearing more about it because it is affecting the city life too. But the concern you have expressed is genuine. So the first solution is that the brothers and sisters engaged in agriculture need to be trained. They will need to face the truth on their thinking that burning the remains of crops helps save time and effort and prepares the field for the next crop. But this is not the truth. The remains of the crop are themselves very valuable. They are organic fertilizer themselves. We are wasting them. Not only this, if they are chopped into small bits, they can act as a dry fruit for cattle. Secondly because of burning this the top soil gets burnt.
My dear farmer brothers and sisters, just think that if we have strong bones, strong heart, strong kidney, an overall good system but our upper skin gets burnt then what will happen? Even if the heart is strong, we will not be able to survive. So burning the stump of crops not only burns them, it burns the skin of our motherland. The top soil of our land is burnt which pushes our fertile soil to death. Hence, some positive efforts need to be made. If these remains are once again buried inside the soil, then it will turn into fertilizers. If they are put in a pit and left with earth worms and little water, good quality organic fertilizer can be made. So it can be used not only to feed the animals, and save our land but also to create good fertilizer. If this is added to the soil, it will be doubly beneficial.
Once I had the opportunity of talking to farmers involved in Banana cultivation. And they shared a very good experience. Earlier as they cultivated banana, when the crop was over, the stumps of the tree would remain. To clear the stumps from the fields they had to spend 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 rupees per hectare. And till the time the people who would clear these stumps would not come with tractors, the stumps would remain standing for long. But some farmers chopped those stumps into 6-6, 8-8 inch pieces and buried them inside the soil. They experienced that the banana stumps held so much water in them that no external water supply was needed for three months. Any plant or any crop sown over those stumps could flourish without water. The water in the stumps kept the crops alive. And now even their stumps are expensive. They are now a source of income. Earlier they had to spend money on clearing those stumps, now those very stumps are a source of revenue. A small experiment can turn lucrative, our farmers are no less than scientists.
Dear countrymen, the entire world will remember 3rd December as “International Day of Persons with Disabilities”. Last time in ‘Mann ki Baat’ I talked about organ donation. I talked about the NOTO helpline for ‘Organ donation’. I have been told that after that session the number of phone calls increased 7 times and the number of hits on the website increased 2.5 times. 27th November was celebrated as ‘Indian Organ Donation Day’. Many famous personalities including actress Raveena Tandon became a part of it. ‘Organ Donation’ can save many valuable lives. Organ donation can bring about immortality. When an organ moves from one body to another it gets a new life but the person receiving it gets a new lease of life. There can be no greater donation than this. I would like to inform those waiting for organs and those willing to donate that a national registry for organ transplantation has been launched on 27th November. Mygov.in organized a logo, donor card and slogan design competition for NOTO and it was surprising to me that so many people participated and presented their ideas in such innovative ways with such compassion. It is my faith that awareness in this field will increase and the needful will receive the best of help in true sense. This help cannot be obtained till someone donates their organs.
Like I said earlier, 3rd December is being celebrated as “International Day of People with Disability”. People with physical and mental disabilities are capable of unparalleled courage and capability. Sometimes it hurts when they are laughed at. Sometimes someone expresses pity and sympathy. But if we change our outlook and our perspective towards them, then these people can inspire us to live. They can inspire us to do a lot. We start crying even when small misfortune befalls us. Then we realize, our problem is so small but how does he survive? How does he live? How does he learn? And hence all of them are a source of inspiration to us. Their will power, their struggle with life and their zeal to transform crisis into opportunity is worth lot of praise.
Today, I want to talk about Javed Ahmed. He is 40-42 years old. In 1996, the terrorists had shot Jawed Ahmed in Kashmir. He was a victim of the terrorists but he survived. But the bullet damaged his kidney and a part of the intestine was lost. He suffered serious spinal injury. He lost the ability to stand on his own feet, but Jawed Ahmed did not concede defeat. The grave injury caused by terrorism could not deter him. His zeal is commendable, but above all is the fact that an innocent man had to face such a predicament, his youth is in danger yet he harbors no grudge and no anger. He turned this crisis into compassion and dedicated his life to social work. The body does not support him but for the past 20 years he has devoted himself to child education. How to improve the infrastructure for the physically challenged? How to develop systems for the disabled in government offices and public spaces? He is working on those issues. He turned the focus of his educational qualification in those areas. He took a masters degree in social work and is now leading a silent revolution as a messiah of the disabled, working as an informed citizen. Is his life not enough to inspire us in every corner of India? I especially remember the life of Jawed Ahmed, his dedication and devotion especially on every 3rd December. I am mentioning just the case of Jawed because of lack of time but such lights of inspiration are prevalent in every corner of the country. They are giving a new lease of life and illuminating the path for others. 3rd December is a day to remember all such people and get inspired by them.
Our country is very large. There are many things for which we are dependent on the government. Be it someone from middle class, lower middle class, dalit, exploited, victim or deprived, they have to continuously be in touch with the government or its various organizations. And as a citizen we surely have a bad experience with a government official in our lifetime. And that one experience shapes our perception of the government system for a lifetime. There is some truth to it. But at the same time within this governmental system there are lakhs of people who by their sense of duty, their dedication do some amazing work which does not get recognized. Sometimes it happens so naturally, it is so organic that one does not realize some government employee has done it.
In our country there is a network of ASHA workers. We have never discussed them in our country and I too have neither heard about them nor would you have. The success of the works of the entrepreneur couple Bill and Melinda Gates through their foundation has become an inspiration. Last year we honoured them with a joint Padma Vibhushan. They do a lot of social work in India. They are spending their entire retirement time and whatever they have earned on working for the poor. They are so full of praise for the ASHA workers they work with. They talk about their dedication and hard work and their zeal to learn about new things. They are full of such stories. In the past, the Orissa government especially facilitated an ASHA worker on Independence Day. She hails from a small village Tenda Gaon in Balasore district where most of the population is scheduled tribe. There the people are poor and the area is malaria infested. The ASHA worker Jamuna Manisingh decided that she will not let anyone die of malaria. She would go to each household and would be the first one to reach if there was news of fever in any household. She would put to use the primary training she received and give treatment accordingly. She would reach out to every household to use mosquito repellent and mosquito nets. The way we care for our kids and their sound sleep, Jamuna Manisingh would work with the same dedication for the entire village. She fought with Malaria and prepared the entire village to fight against it. There might be so many “Jamuna Mani”. There might be lakhs and lakhs of people around us. Let us show respect to such individuals. Such individuals lend power to our nation. They are partners to the joys and sorrows of others. I applaud all such ASHA workers through the story of Jamuna Mani.
My dear young friends, who are especially active on the internet and the social media, I want to inform that I have kept 3 e-books on mygov.in. These e-books are about inspiring stories of Swatch Bharat, health sector and the Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana. I request you to see it. Just don’t see it, show it to others too. Read it and may be you may find something to connect with it. Please do send it to Mygov.in. Such things do happen though we may miss them, but they are the actual strength of our nation. Positive power is the biggest energy. You also share good episodes. Share these e-books, discuss these books and some enthusiastic young man can narrate these to the students of VIII, IX or X standard in the nearby schools. So you can become a social teacher in the truest sense. I invite you to come and become a part of nation building.
My dear countryman, the entire world is worried about climate change. Climate change, global warming is being discussed at every nook and corner and now it has become an accepted standard for embarking on any new task. The earth’s temperature should not rise anymore. This is everyone’s concern and responsibility too. And to save us from rising temperatures, the first step is “energy conservation. 14th December is “National Energy Conservation day”. The government is running many schemes. There is a scheme of increasing L.E.D bulb usage. I had once mentioned to switch off the street lights on a full moon night and enjoy the moonlight for an hour. One should enjoy the moonlight. Some friend of mine had sent me a link and I had the opportunity to see it. I really wanted to share it with you. The actual credit goes to Zee News because the link was of Zee News. There is a woman Noor Jahan in Kanpur. Watching her on television it seemed that she did not have much of a chance to get education. But she is doing something which no one would have thought of. She is utilizing the Solar Energy of the Sun to illuminate the houses of the poor. She is fighting darkness and bringing light to her own name. She has formed a Samiti (committee) of women who manufacture lanterns that run on Solar Energy. They rent the lantern for Rs. 100/- per month. People take the lanterns in the evening and return them in the mornings for recharging. I have heard that people in large numbers around 500 people are using these lanterns. In an expense of Rs. 3-4 per day the entire house is illuminated. Noor Jehan works the entire day to recharge the lanterns in the solar energy plant. See what the big people of the world do for climate change. Maybe Noor Jehan can act as an inspiration to many for the kind of work she is doing. And actually, Noor Jehan means the light of the world. She is spreading light through her work. I congratulate Noor Jehan and Zee TV that they presented this effort which was going on in a remote corner of Kanpur to the country and the world. Many congratulations to you.
I received a phone call from Mr. Abhishek Kumar Pandey from Uttar Pradesh. “Namaste! I am Abhishek Kumar Pandey calling from Gorakhpur. I am working here as an entrepreneur. I want to congratulate the Prime Minister for starting a programme MUDRA bank. I would like to know from the Prime Minister how this MUDRA bank can support entrepreneurs like us. What kind of cooperation can we expect? Thank you, Abhishek ji. You sent me a message from Gorakhpur. The Prime Minister MUDRA fund is about funding the unfunded. Those who do not get funds may get funds. To put plainly the objective is 3E; Enterprises, Earning, Empowerment. MUDRA is meant to encourage enterprise; it is about creating earning opportunities. MUDRA will empower in the truest sense. It is meant to help the small scale enterprises. This initiative is yet to achieve the speed that I have aimed for. But the start has been good. Till now 66 lakh people have received 42,000 crore rupees through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. It can be a washer man, a barber, a newspaper vendor, milkman, just about anybody engaged in small enterprise. I am happy that out of the 66 lakh recipients 24 lakh were women. And most of the beneficiaries are from the SC, ST, OBC category who want to work hard and run their families independently. Abhishek has himself narrated his excitement. I too keep receiving various news. Someone just told me that there is one Shailesh Bhosle in Mumbai. He received a loan of 8.5 lakhs from MUDRA scheme. He started the sewage dress and cleanliness business. I had told about my cleanliness campaign that it will create new entrepreneurs. And Shailesh Bhonsle proved it. He has purchased a tanker and I have been told that he has already returned 2 lakh rupees in such a short span of time. This is our intention behind the MUDRA scheme. I have been told about Mamta Sharma from Bhopal. She received Rs 40,000 from the MUDRA Yojana. She is into the business of making purses. But earlier she would borrow money at high rates and barely manage her business. Now that she has a large sum of money in her hand, her work is going on smoothly. Earlier the money that was lost in paying high interest and for other reasons could now be saved. She was able to save around 1000 rupees every month. The family’s new enterprise started developing. But I want that this scheme is promoted more. Our banks should become more sensitized and should help more and more people. Actually, it is this people who run the economy. The people engaged in small enterprises give strength to the nation’s economy. We want to strengthen these people. Whatever has happened is good, but more good needs to be done.
My dear countrymen, on 31st October on the Anniversary of Sardar Patel I had discussed about – “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” (One India, Best India). Conducting such events creates continuous awareness in social life. “Rashtram Jagryam Vyayam: means “internal vigilance is the prize of liberty”. This tradition should be followed for national unity. I want to give “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” (One India, Best India) the form of a specific scheme. Mygov had invited suggestions about it. What should the structure of the programme be like? What should be the logo? How to increase public participation? What should be its structure? I have been told that many suggestions have been received. But I am expecting more suggestions. I expect more specific schemes. I have been told that the participants will all receive a certificate. Many big prizes have been announced. You also utilize your creative mind. How can we make this mantra of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (One India, Best India) that connects each and every Indian? What should be the programme and what should be the plan. It should be grand and full of life. It should be simple and effective to be able to connect everyone. What should the government do? What should be done by the Civil Society? There can be many ideas. I have complete faith that your ideas will be really useful.
My dear brothers and sisters, the winters are about to start. But it is also the season to enjoy eating and enjoy dressing. But I would request you to do exercises. I request you to utilize this good season for some kind of physical activity and exercise. Create this type of mood in the family, make it a celebration, all should get together for an hour to do these exercises. See how there will be an awakening. And see how your body helps you throughout the day. So make a good habit in this good season. My good wishes again to all my dear countrymen.