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Excellency Speaker Dr. Jiko Luveni, Excellency Prime Minister Bainimarama, Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji,

Nisan Bula and Namaste

Two months ago, Fijians voted in extraordinary numbers to elect their Parliament. Six months ago, Indians participated in the largest election in human history.

Today, I stand here, grateful for this special gift – the honour to be among you, to speak to this new Parliament, in celebration of democracy and to reaffirm our friendship.

India is a nation of more than a billion; Fiji a nation of a million.We are located in different oceans. But, what unites today is our democracy, the diversity of our societies, our creed that all human beings are equal, and our commitment to the liberty, dignity and rights of every individual. What also links today is that we have women as Speakers of our two Parliaments!

You have done better than us. One in every seven members in this Parliament is a woman; in India, it is just one in nine. So, I hope we can match you the next time; and, I hope we can both do better in future.

People in Fiji have different histories, ethnicities, languages and religions. But, they stand together as one nation of Fijians, with one voice, one vision and one aspiration. In both nations, we have vested power in our people. Your Constitution begins with "We, the people of Fiji", Ours begins with the same simple words, "We the people of India" And, what a Constitution you have framed! It is a Constitution that only not only guarantees freedoms and rights the citizens, but also to ensure their basic needs and empower them. From the right to life, liberty, dignity, equality and freedom of religion, To the right to education, information, work, health, food and water To the rights of children and the disabled. This is a Constitution that reflects the will of an enlightened nation.

The journey to this milestone had its struggles and setbacks, but the road you have chosen has won you admiration around the world and the support of the people here.

Honorable Members,

Fiji is a shining example of small nations that can successfully pursue great ambitions, Because what makes a nation successful is not its size or its population, but its vision and its values.

Today, Fiji is a nation that has used its economic resources well. You have been a strong voice on behalf of the Pacific Islands and a hub of this region. You led the G 77 with vision and statesmanship. Your soldiers have served with outstanding professionalism in UN Peacekeeping Missions in some of the world`s most dangerous spots. And, you are playing an influential role in shaping the global dialogue on climate change.

There are many in India, who wish Vijay Singh wore the Indian colours on the golf course!

Honorable Members,

For India, Fiji will always have a special place. The tide of history brought many from India to your shores. It has forged our ties of culture and kinship. But, our relationship today stands on a much broader of our shared values and our common interests as developing countries. And, now, together we were partners in making history.

You graciously hosted Indian scientists in Fiji for tracking our Mars Mission, Mangalyaan. It was the only mission in the world to succeed in the first attempt.

I convey today the gratitude of the people and the scientists of India. This simple yet profound act of cooperation reflects the boundless possibilities in our relationship, if we choose to seek them.

Our trade and investment ties have been modest. Our relationship in science, education and culture could be stronger. Yet, there are examples of our partnership that should inspire us – our cooperation in upgrading your sugar mills or the public-private partnership in the area of healthcare.

As we have collaborated in running hospitals here, we can also extend our cooperation in pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines.

As Fiji adjusts to the changing global markets, India is prepared to be your partner – In making your existing industry stronger and finding new opportunities for your youth. For countries like ours, village and small and medium scale industries are the source of enterprise and employment.

Today, I am pleased to announce a grant of 5 million U.S. dollars to strengthen and modernize Fiji`s village, small and medium industries. We will also provide a Line of Credit of 70 million dollars for a co-generation power plant at Rarav Sugar Mill. And, another Line of Credit of 5 million dollars for upgrading the sugar industry in Fiji.

Agriculture supports a majority of the population in India and Fiji. I offer our expertise and assistance in increasing productivity in the agriculture sector. As the largest producer of milk in the world, India can help develop your dairy industry, which can also contribute to your exports. In areas like fisheries, textiles and garments, and gems and jewellery, we can expand trade.

In this digital age, every nation can be part of the global information technology industry. And, it is a dream that youth around the world share. It is an industry that depends on ideas and skills. It offers a great path to prosperity. And, it has a light carbon footprint.

We were pleased to set up a centre of excellence in information technology here in Fiji. We are is prepared to work with you to build a Digitial Fiji and to equip your youth to integrate Fiji into the global IT network.

We will also deepen our cooperation in education and training and we will double the number of our scholarships.

Today, I propose that we work together to harness the potential of Space technology for governance, economic development, conservation, climate change and natural disasters.

We could work to make Fiji the hub for our regional collaboration in Space, just as India has done with ASEAN.

There are times when we think of each other as distant lands, separated by oceans and seven time zones.

But, think of the days when travel was difficult. That did not deter brave people from travelling over the seas in search of a new life. Distance, to me, is irrelevant in a world of fiber optic cables and satellite links. We are only as far away as the click of a mouse or the call button of a phone. In any case, a direct flight today can take you from Fiji to most places in India. And, I say this more to my people than to you.

Fijians have been steady in visiting India. We in India have not paid enough attention to this beautiful land of warm people and immense potential. This must change. We must make travel easier between our two countries. For this reason, I have taken a small step in extending visa on arrival to Fijians in India, as you have done for Indians. And, if you want to attract more Indians to enjoy the magnificence of your islands and the warmth of your hospitality, you should invite Bollywood to shoot their films in Fiji.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

We have spoken of vast opportunities, but we also share many common challenges. For you, climate change is not a matter of debate, but a basic question of existence.

India, too, is a nation of a long coastline and more than 1000 islands, a nation that is nurtured by monsoon rain and the Himalayan glaciers.

We, too, are facing the searing impact of climate change. And, we spend more than 6% of our GDP in adapting to its consequences. Now, each of us must shoulder our own responsibilities. We cannot side aside and take no action. Technology has made it possible.We don`t have to seek old pathways to prosperity.

In India, we have a comprehensive national plan and strategy to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. And, I have a deep personal commitment to it. And, we look forward to working with Fiji in areas such wind and solar energy. But, it is also equally important that the global community accepts its responsibility and implements its commitment. It should not become one in which the strong shift the burden on the others; or impose the responsibilities of their excesses on the choices that others make. It should not be an issue of economic advantage or trade competitive of one over the other.

The world had agreed on a beautiful balance of collective action – common but differentiated responsibilities. That should form the basis of continued action. This also means that the developed countries must fulfil their commitments for funding and technology transfer.

India has stood shoulder to shoulder with Fiji and the Small Islands Developing States is seeking a fair and urgent response from the international community for a sustainable future.

We also have shared stakes in a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous Asia and Pacific regions. Stretching from the Indian Ocean through continental Asia into Pacific, this is a region of enormous dynamism and opportunities, but also a region with many challenges.

Fiji is a leader in the region and a strong voice in the developing world. Together, we can also work for a future in the region, in which there is an equal place for all nations - big and small, developed and developing – and a climate of peace and tranquility.

I thank Prime Minister and Fiji for their leadership in hosting my meeting with the Pacific leaders later today.

Let us join hands to create an ocean of opportunity that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Sometimes our relations have been adrift.

Sometimes our relations have been adrift.

Let us chart a new course. Let us start a new era - When it does not take another 33 years for an Indian Prime Minister to visit Fiji. When Fijians and Indians work with each other from the comfort of familiarity and the ease that comes with the habit of regular partnership.

When we draw strength from the ties of history and the bonds of emotions; seek new purpose in our many shared interests; and seize our new opportunities.

Thank you Vinaka (Thank you). Dhanyawad.

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Baba Saheb Ambedkar was a person with universal vision: PM Modi
April 14, 2021
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Baba Saheb Ambedkar had a universal vision: PM Modi
Baba Saheb Ambedkar gave a strong foundation to independent India so the nation could move forward while strengthening its democratic heritage: PM
We have to give opportunities to the youth according to their potential. Our efforts towards this is the only tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar: PM

Namaskar!

Present with me in this programme, Gujarat Governor Acharya Shri Dev Vrat ji, the country’s Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank ji, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani ji, Education Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendra Singh ji, Chairman of UGC Prof. D.P.Singh ji, Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ami Upadhyay ji, Association of Indian Universities President Prof. Taj Pratap ji, all dignitaries and friends.

Today when the country is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence, the occasion of Babasaheb Ambedkar ji's birth anniversary also connects us with that great yagna and also with the inspiration of the future. On behalf of the grateful nation and all the countrymen, I pay my respectful homage to Babasaheb.

Friends,

During the freedom struggle, millions and millions of our freedom fighters dreamt of a harmonious and inclusive India. Babasaheb made the beginning in realizing those dreams in the form of the Constitution to the country. Today India is creating a new future and achieving new dimensions of success by following the same Constitution.

Friends,

Today, the 95th meeting of the Vice Chancellors of Association of Indian Universities is taking place on this auspicious day. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University has announced the establishment of 'Babasaheb Samarasta Chair'. The four books written by Shri Kishore Makwana ji have also been released on Babasaheb's life, his thoughts and ideals. I congratulate all the dignitaries involved in these efforts.

Friends,

India has been the mother of democracy in the world. Democracy has been an integral part of our civilization and our way of life. Babasaheb laid a strong foundation to independent India so the nation could move forward while strengthening its democratic heritage. When we read and understand Babasaheb, we realize that he was a person of universal vision.

There is a clear vision of Babasaheb's philosophy in Shri Kishore Makwana ji's books. While one of his books introduces Babasaheb’s “Jeevan Darshan” (philosophy of life), the other focuses on “Vyakti Darshan” (individual philosophy). Similarly, the third book highlights Babasaheb's “Rashtra Darshan” (national philosophy), whereas the fourth book “Aayam Darshan” will introduce his philosophy of dimension to the countrymen.  These four philosophies are no less than modern scriptures in themselves.

I would like our new generation in colleges and universities to read more and more of such books. All these dimensions, whether it is the inclusive society, the concern for the rights of the Dalit-deprived society, the question of upliftment and contribution of women, or Babasaheb's vision on education and especially on higher education, will offer an opportunity to the youth of the country to understand Babasaheb.

Friends,

Doctor Ambedkar would say:

"My three revered deities are -- Knowledge, self-respect and politeness.” Self-respect comes with knowledge and makes a person aware of his or her rights. Through equal rights, social harmony emerges and the country progresses.

We are all familiar with Babasaheb's struggles of life. The position that Babasaheb reached after so many struggles is a great inspiration for all of us. Our education system and universities have this responsibility to carry the country forward on the path shown by Babasaheb Ambedkar. And when it is the issue of common goals and shared efforts as a nation, collective efforts become the means of accomplishment.

Therefore, I think the role of Association of Indian Universities becomes very important. AIU also has the legacy of scholars like Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan ji, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Smt. Hansa Mehta and Dr. Zakir Hussain.

Dr. Radhakrishnan ji would say: “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”.

It implies that education should be such which should liberate the person, so that he can think openly, and make something new with a new thinking. He believed that we should develop our education management as a unit of the entire world. But at the same time, he emphasized the Indian character of education. This becomes even more important in the global scenario today.

Here special issues were released on the new 'National Education Policy' and plan for its implementation. These issues are detailed documents how National Education Policy is a futuristic policy, a policy of global parameters. You all scholars are familiar with the nuances of the National Education Policy. The purpose of education that Dr. Radhakrishnan ji spoke about is reflected in the core of this policy.

I am told that this time the theme of the seminar is - 'Implementing National Educational Policy-2020 to Transforming Higher Education in India'. All of you deserve congratulations for this.

I have been constantly discussing NEP with experts. National Education Policy is as practical as its implementation.

Friends,

You have dedicated your entire life to education. You all know very well that every student has his own capability and capacity. Based on these capabilities, students and teachers also have three questions.

First: What can they do?

Second: What is their potential if they are properly taught?

And, third, what they want to do?

What a student can do is his inner strength. But if we add institutional strength to his inner strength, his development becomes expansive. With this combination, our youth can do what they want to do. Therefore, the country’s special emphasis is on skill development. As the country is moving ahead with the mission of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat, the role and demand of skilled youths is also increasing.

Friends,

In view of the strength of skills, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had placed greater emphasis on the collaboration of educational institutions and industries decades ago. Today, the country has immense opportunities, and there are new industries of modern times. India is being looked upon as a future centre of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, 3D printing, Virtual Reality, Robotics, mobile technology, geo-informatics, smart healthcare and defence sector. The country is taking huge steps to meet these requirements.

Indian Institutes of Skills are being set up in three big metropolitans of the country. The first batch of the Indian Institute of Skills has already started in Mumbai a few months ago in December. The Future Skills Initiative was launched with NASSCOM in 2018. This initiative offers training in more than 150 skill sets in 10 emerging technologies.

Friends,

The new National Policy on Education also provides for NETF which emphasizes the maximum use of technology in education. We want all universities to be multi-disciplinary. We want to give flexibility to students so that they can complete courses anywhere easily through the easy entry-exit and Academic Bank of Credit. Every university in the country will have to work together to achieve all these goals. All the Vice Chancellors have to pay special attention to this.

A huge skill pool will be created in our universities for the new possibilities that we can create in the country. All of you are requested to work in this direction more expeditiously and the work should be completed within a stipulated time.

Friends,

The country is rapidly transforming the lives of the poor, Dalits, the victims, the exploited and the deprived following the footsteps of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Babasaheb talked about equal opportunities and equal rights. Today, schemes like Jan Dhan accounts are leading to financial inclusion of every person and through DBT money is reaching directly to their accounts.  The BHIM UPI that was launched for the digital economy has become a great strength for the poor today. Today, every poor person is getting a house and free electricity connection. Similarly, work is in the progress to provide clean water to villages under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

When there was a corona crisis, the country stood up for the poor and the labourers. There is no discrimination among the poor and the rich in the world's largest vaccination program. This is the path shown by Babasaheb and these are his ideals.

Friends,

Babasaheb always emphasized on women empowerment and made many efforts in this direction. It is with this vision that the country is giving new opportunities to its daughters today. From toilets at home and schools to combat roles in the army, women are at the centre of every policy of the country today.

Similarly, the country is working to spread Babasaheb's message to the people. The places associated with Babasaheb are being developed as Panch Teerth.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to dedicate the Dr. Ambedkar International Centre. Today, this Centre is emerging as a centre of research on social and economic issues and on Babasaheb's life.

Friends,

Today, we are close to 75 years of independence, and we have goals for the next 25 years. The country’s future, the future goals and successes of the country are linked to our youth. It is our youth who will fulfill these resolutions. We have to give opportunities to the youth of the country to the best of their ability.

I am confident that our collective resolve and conscious efforts of the education world will realise this dream of a New India.

Our efforts and the hard work will be our tribute to Babasaheb.

With these good wishes, I once again thank you all very much. I wish you all the very best on Navratri. I also extend my special greetings on the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Many thanks.