My Dear Countrymen,
I was not feeling like doing Mann ki Baat today. I am feeling heavy and burdened and little distressed. There were news of hailstorm, unseasonal rains and damages to farmer’s crop when I was talking to all of you last month. Suddenly, out of nowhere strong winds blew in Bihar, causing death of so many people and inflicted lot of damages there. And the earthquake has shaken the entire world on Saturday. It seems the trend of natural disasters has continued. Be it the Nepal earthquake and in India as well the earthquake took lives across various states of India. There has been loss of property because of the earthquake. However, the loss to Nepal is frightening.
I have seen Kutch earthquake very closely on Jan 26, 2001. I can clearly imagine how devastating these disasters are. I can imagine what Nepal and the victimized families there must be going through. But my dear brothers and sisters of Nepal, India is with you in your hour of grief. Work has begun to provide assistance to people facing crisis across several locations in India and Nepal. First and foremost work is rescue operation to save people. Some people must still be alive under the debris and should get evacuated safely from there. A team of experts which has been sent is specifically trained for this task. Sniffer dogs have been sent as they possess the ability to trace any individual staying alive under the debris. Our whole endeavour would be to save maximum number of people alive. Post rescue operation, there is a need to undertake relief work as well. Rehabilitation work will also continue for long. However, humanity has a power of its own. Nepal is a dear to 125 crore people of India. Their grief is our grief. India will make sure to wipe the tears of every Nepali, hold their hands and provide support to them.
Thousands of our Indian brothers and sisters were left stranded in Yemen a few days ago. It was a very tough task to evacuate the Indians alive amidst horrific situation, amidst the tension of bombs and guns, amidst firing but we managed to do so. Not only this, when we safely rescued a new born girl who was just a week old, we felt how much power humanity has. It brings a sense of satisfaction to the mind by rescuing a week old girl alive amidst raining bombs, guns and shadow of death.
Wherever I went overseas in the last few days, I received compliments for one thing and that was for saving citizens of 48 countries of the world in Yemen. Be it the citizen of the US, the UK, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, we helped the citizen of every country. And due to this, the world has experienced the old saying of India, “सेवा परमो धर्मः”, meaning the greatest service to humanity is to serve others. Our Ministry of External Affairs, our Air Force and our Navy have done this work with such courage and responsibility that it will have indelible imprint over the world in the coming days. This is what I believe in. And I am happy that all the people were evacuated safely without any damage and it should be noted that India's special quality is that our culture is quite old.
Recently when I visited France, I went to a memorial of the First World War there. The reason for visiting the place was that it is the centenary year of the First World War, but at the same time it is the centenary year of India's valour. This is the centenary year of the sacrifices made by the Indian heroes and “सेवा परमो धर्मः”, meaning the greatest service to humanity is to serve others and how this phrase has been lived by our country; this year is a centenary year for this reason also. I am saying this because very few people would know that about 15 lakh Indian soldiers had put their life at stake during the First World War from 1914 to 1918. And the Indian soldiers did not die for India’s cause. India neither wanted to capture any country, nor did it want to take away anyone’s land. But the Indians had shown amazing strength. Very few people would know that about 74000 of our soldiers sacrificed their life in the First World War. And this is also a matter of pride that about 9200 soldiers, who lost their life, were bestowed with Gallantry Award. Not only this, there were eleven such individuals who received the highest honour of Victoria Cross. About 4700 Indians had sacrificed their life especially during the World War in March 2015 in France, which has made a memorial as a mark of respect for them. I went there to commemorate and express my gratitude to the strength displayed by our ancestors.
If we see all these incidents, then we can say to the world that our country thinks in the direction of peace, happiness and welfare of the world. The country keeps doing something in this direction and if needed put its life at stake. India finds itself in the first row among the highest contributors in the peacekeeping force of the United Nation. That is the matter of pride for us.
In the last few days, I got the opportunity to accomplish two important tasks. We are to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of respected Babasaheb Ambedkar. There has been a controversy regarding the land where his memorial was to be built for many years. I am satisfied that the Government of India decided to allot the land for building the memorial of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Similarly, there must be an International Centre in the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Delhi so that the entire world knows this sage, his thoughts and his work. This was also a matter, which was pending for years. I completed and laid the foundation stone of the memorial. I pledged to complete the work in 20 months, which did not happen for 20 years. And at the same time a thought has also come into my mind and we are working on it. Even today there are many families in our country that are forced to carry dirt on their head. Is it a matter of grace for us that even today some families in our country have to carry the burden of dirt on their head? With all earnest, I said in the government forum to get us free from this blur in the year when we commemorating Babasaheb Ambedkar on his 125th birth anniversary. Now, we will not tolerate a situation where any poor will have to take load of dirt on his head in our country. For this we need the support of the society, government must also shoulder its responsibility. I need cooperation of people as we have to do this work.
Babasaheb Ambedkar used to say ‘Stay Educated’ throughout life. Even today, education has not reached many dalits, exploited, and deprived ones in the society, especially girls. We must also pledge on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar. There must not be any son or daughter of the poor remaining illiterate in our villages, cities and locality. Government must do its duty. And if it gets the support of the society, then we will definitely feel a sense of satisfaction. I want to share a matter of happiness and share another matter of discomfort as well. I take pride of the fact that two daughters of India have made the country proud. One daughter -Saina Nehwal became the world’s no. 1 in Badminton, and the second daughter Sania Mirza became the world’s top player in Tennis Doubles tournament. Congratulations to both and all the daughters of our country. I feel proud seeing the effort and strength of our own. But sometimes, we lose cool. When the Cricket World Cup was on and we lost to Australia in the semi-finals, the kind of words used and the treatment meted out to the players was not good my countrymen. How can be a game with no defeat? Victory and defeat are part and parcel of life. If the players of our country have been beaten in a match, then we must encourage them in the times of crisis. There must be an effort to create an environment to generate new confidence. I am sure that we will learn from the defeats going forward and we will not lose control in few moments by indulging in action-reaction. And I am getting worried. Whenever I see that anything happens all of a sudden, a mob surrounds and burns the truck, burns the vehicle. And we see these things on TV as well. Accident must not happen. Even the government must make full effort. But my dear countrymen tell me if we should burn the vehicles? Dead ones do not come back. Can’t we ensure law to take its due course keeping our emotion in check?
Well, today my mind has been very grief-stricken due to these incidents, especially due to natural disasters. But amidst this also, we will move forward with courage and confidence. Be it individual of this country - dalit, oppressed, exploited, tribe, villager, poor, farmer, small businessman, we will move forward on the path of welfare for everyone. Examinations of students are over. Especially, the students of 10th and 12th standard must have made a program of celebrating the holidays. I wish all of you a very good vacation; get the opportunity to learn something new. And since you have worked hard the whole year, then I wish that you spend some time with your family with joy and happiness.
Namaskar to everyone.