Jai Maa Annapurna
Jai Jai Maa Annapurna
The popular Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, my colleague in Parliament and president of Gujarat BJP Shri CR Patil, President of Annapurnadham Trust, my colleague in Parliament Narhari Amin, other office bearers, public representatives, senior members of society, sisters and brothers…
I get regular opportunities to be part of the important rituals related to faith, spirituality and social responsibilities in this holy abode of Maa Annapurna, be it laying the foundation stone of temple, hostel or consecration of the temple. By the grace of Maa, I got an opportunity to be among you every time. Today, along with the inauguration of Shri Annapurnadham Trust, Adalaj Kumar Hostel and Education Complex, foundation laying ceremony of the Hiramani Arogya Dham by the Jansahayak Trust has also taken place. It has been the character of Gujarat to contribute to society in the field of education, nutrition and health. Every community discharges social responsibility according to its capacity and the Patidar community is never found wanting. May you all become more capable in this yagna of service, more dedicated and continue to achieve greater heights of service with the blessings of Maa Annapurna. May Maa Annapurna bless you like that! Many congratulations and best wishes to all of you on my behalf!
Friends, we have had great faith in Annapurna, the goddess of prosperity and wealth. The Patidar community has been directly attached to Mother Earth. It is because of this great reverence for her that we have brought the idol of Maa Annapurna back to Kashi from Canada a few months back. This stolen idol from Kashi was smuggled abroad decades ago. Dozens of such symbols of our culture have been brought back from abroad in the last seven-eight years.
Friends, there has always been a lot of emphasis on food, health and education in our culture and tradition. Today you have amplified these elements in Maa Annapurnadham. The new facilities that have been developed and the Arogya Dham that is going to be built here will benefit the common man and the patients of Gujarat a lot, especially the facility of dialysis of many people simultaneously and 24-hour blood supply. Your efforts will give further strength to the free dialysis campaign that the Central Government has started in district hospitals. You all deserve praise for all these humanitarian efforts and for your devotion to service.
When I am amongst the people of Gujarat, I feel like talking in Gujarati a bit also. I have been with you for many years. In a way, all my education and initiation has been done here. I am immersed in fulfilling the responsibility that you have given me towards the country with the values you have imparted in me. As a result, I could not be present with you in person despite immense requests from Narhari. Had I been present there, I could have had the opportunity to meet a lot of old dignitaries and have fun with all of you. However, I cannot miss the opportunity of meeting you and so I can see you all from here with the help of technology. I am saluting you all.
Narharibhai is my old friend and his quality is that his public life was born out of the womb of the movement. He is the product of the Navnirman movement, but it is a matter of satisfaction and bliss that a person associated with a movement has creative instincts. It is very important that he is involved in creative work while being in politics. Ghanshyambhai is also completely devoted to the co-operative society. It is because of the upbringing that the entire family is involved in doing something good for society. My best wishes to him and his family members and to Narharibhai also from the new generation.
Our Chief Minister is tough as well as soft. Gujarat has got a wonderful leadership in him. I am sure his modern ideology and responsibility for basic services will take Gujarat to new heights. I urge everybody, especially the brothers of the Swami Narayan community, to move towards natural farming as suggested by him (Chief Minister). Let us try as much as we can to save this Mother Earth. You will see its fruits in the next three-four years and we will flourish with the blessings of Mother Earth. Therefore, we must all work in this regard.
Gujarat is for the development of the country. I remember when I was here we had only one mantra that development of Gujarat is for the development of India. Let us set such parameters for the development of Gujarat and carry forward the rich tradition of Gujarat under the leadership of Bhupendrabhai. A couple of days ago, someone sent me a video and I am glad that Bhupendrabhai is rejuvenating Maa Ambaji temple. I also have a special attachment with Ambaji. That's why I felt very happy the way he has given a new look to Gabbar (Hill). Bhupendrabhai is making his vision a reality. It has been after so many years after independence that the abode of Maa Amba is being developed and Gujarat has paid a rich tribute to Sardar Saheb in the form of the Statue of Unity. We had envisioned 51 Shakti Peeths at Ambaji so that any devotee coming here could get a glimpse of 51 Shakti Peeths in its original form. Today Bhupendrabhai has taken forward that initiative and dedicated this to people in a glorious way. Similarly, a very few people used to visit Gabbar (Hill). Today, Gabbar also holds as much importance as Maa Amba and is attracting attention. As a result, tourism has increased in North Gujarat. Recently, I saw an experiment (of building a border viewing point) in Nada Bet, the last village (on the Indo-Pak border).
The possibilities of tourism have increased manifold in the whole of North Gujarat under the leadership of Bhupendrabhai. Therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure cleanliness in places which are being developed. Now that you have taken up the issue of health, then cleanliness is at its core. And nutrition is also at its core. How can there be malnutrition in Gujarat, which is the seat of Maa Annapurna? Ignorance of nutrition is the real cause than the lack of nutrition in malnutrition. As a result of this ignorance, it is not known what the body requires and what one should eat. Infants get strength in mother’s milk and if we are disinclined due to ignorance, we can’t make children strong. When we are in the company of Mata Annapurna, we should always remember her. I am entrusting a new task to Narhari ji. There should be a video screen at the dining hall, which will serve 600 people. Those eating at the dining hall should be able to see all the information regarding good food habits on the video screen and what are the elements required by the body so that the devotees should remember this information as the offering of Mata Annapurna and follow it in their homes upon their return. Nowadays, nutritionists are found in large numbers.
Very soon, your dining hall will become famous and the media personnel will visit you. I am sure Narharibhai will take note of it because he has not disregarded any suggestions given by me till date. It is said in our scriptures:
देयं वैशजम आर्तस्य, परिश्रांतस्य च आसनम्। तृषि तश्याश्च पानी य:, सुधि तश्याश्च भोजनम्।
This means that medicine should be given to the victim, a seat to a tired person, water to a thirsty person and food to a hungry person. This is stated in our scriptures. It is a matter of pride for me that this initiative is being started under the guidance of Maa Annapurna. Since all of you have gone beyond your means to implement my suggestion, my enthusiasm soars further and I feel like giving you two new tasks. Food is the first step to good health and that is why we have started the Poshan campaign across the country. I still maintain that malnutrition is not due to lack of food. Ignorance towards food increases the chances of malnutrition.
We ensured that no poor people should go hungry and their stoves keep on burning in Gujarat since Corona struck about two-and-a-half years ago. And the whole world is wondering how 80 crore people continue to get free food grains for the last two-and-a-half years. Due to turmoil in the whole world, people are not getting anything. All doors have been closed from where we used to get petrol, oil, fertilizer etc.
A war-like situation has developed and everybody is securing its stocks. In such a situation, the world is staring at a new problem as food stocks have started declining. During my discussion with the US President yesterday, I assured him to send food relief to countries if the WTO accords permission. We are ready to send the relief from tomorrow itself. We already have enough food for our people but our farmers seem to have made arrangements to feed the world due to the blessings of Maa Annapurna. However, we have to work according to the laws of the world, so I don’t know when WTO will give permission.
You see the potential of Gujarat in terms of health. We ran a speedy vaccination campaign against Corona. I also want to congratulate Bhupendrabhai and his government for speeding up the vaccination drive in Gujarat and as a result Gujarat has been saved. Now we have also allowed vaccination for children. Our Patidar brothers, diamond merchants and the people of Gujarat have to often travel abroad for business purposes and they will be required precautionary doses. Now, one can visit any hospital and take the precautionary dose. There is no need to worry. We try our best to fulfill the requirements (of society). Now I urge the people to give priority to skill development for our children. The old-fashioned skill development has gone. Cycle repairing is no longer considered skill development in today’s time.
Now the world has changed. In the wake of Industry 4.0, skill development should also be according to Industry 4.0. Now Gujarat has to leapfrog for skill development as per Industry 4.0 and Gujarat should lead India in this regard. Gujarat has industry leaders and professionals and they are very enterprising and they have done it in the past. I am giving you an example. Our ancestors started a pharmacy college in Gujarat. It has completed 50-60 years now. At that time, the merchants and money lenders had started the first pharmacy college in India. Over the years, Gujarat has carved out a niche for itself in the world of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical companies of Gujarat have made a name for themselves in the world. Our people started worrying about ensuring affordable medicines for the poor. It is to the credit of the pharmacy college formed 50-60 years ago that an environment and eco-system was created for the students and today the pharmacy industry has enhanced the reputation of Gujarat.
I am sure our youth will be ready in skill development in the field of modern Industry 4.0 and technology and we can lead it. Gujarat has the potential and it will be able to do it comfortably. The more we move in this direction the better. Today, when the issue of health is being debated, I would like to tell you something. When I formed the government, I had a massive problem in front of me. The number of kidney patients was on the rise and so was the demand for dialysis. People would spend 200-250 rupees for commuting to major hospitals. Those who had to undergo dialysis on a weekly basis had to wait for two months. It was a very worrisome situation. Despite insufficient resources, we launched a country-wide campaign for a free dialysis facility. Today we are moving forward successfully in this regard and such patients are getting help. We have done very important work. However, it is rarely discussed.
I have not seen much in the newspapers as they have little time to discuss such initiatives. We have undertaken a very commendable initiative in the form of Jan Aushadhi Kendra and have given maximum benefit to the middle and poor sections of this country. If there is any diabetic patient in a family, it has to spend 1,000-2,000 rupees every month. The middle-class people find it difficult to bear the medical expenses. But now there is no worry. We have not compromised on Jan Aushadhi medicines. The same medicine which is available for Rs 100 in the market is available at Jan Aushadhi Kendra for Rs 10-12 or Rs 15. As much as we promote Jan Aushadhi Kendra and if our middle-class people start buying medicines from Jan Aushadhi Kendra, then they will save a lot. The poor will benefit. Many times it happens that poor people do not buy medicines and as a result they have to suffer. They can't pay the medical bills. We are ensuring that the common man can buy affordable medicines from the Jan Aushadhi Kendra and get his treatment.
We are concerned, be it the issue of cleanliness campaign, free dialysis, nutritious food or affordable medicines through Jan Aushadhi Kendra. Now we have started a campaign for cheaper stents for those suffering from heart diseases and affordable knee operations. There are many such initiatives so that the common man does not have to suffer. And the most important of all is the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The government is bearing treatment costs up to Rs. 5 lakhs for the common people every year under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. I have seen earlier our mothers would not inform their children if they had any serious illness and would suffer in pain.
When the situation would worsen and it required operation, the mother would tell her children that she did not want them to be in debt. She would bear pain in life saying there is not much life left for her to live. In such a situation, who should care about her? Who cares for mothers where there is an abode for Maa Amba, Maa Kali, Maa Khodiyar, Maa Umiya and Maa Annapurna? Then we decided that the government will bear treatment costs up to Rs. 5 lakh in the best hospitals under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, be it operation or any kidney disease. Not only this, if somebody is from Ahmedabad and he falls ill, has to undergo an operation or requires emergency treatment in Mumbai then also the government will take the responsibility of his treatment. That is if somebody from Ahmedabad has gone to Mumbai or Hyderabad, the treatment facility will be available there. In a way, we are trying to do as much as possible for the protection of health. And the specialty of Gujarat has been that it is always a state that stands with everyone.
The government hardly has to make any effort here whenever there is any crisis and food packets need to be delivered. One needs to make a call to organizations like Swami Narayan and Santram and food packets are delivered immediately in Gujarat. No one remains hungry. All this happens with the blessings of Maa Annapurna. This is the need of Gujarat and accordingly we are taking Gujarat forward on the path of progress. Good arrangements have been made for education and health and now we are also moving towards spirituality. We are blessed to have Triveni Sangam. I wish you all the very best.