The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today said that the time has come for us to realize the potential of soft power as an important strategy for external affairs and foreign relations. He was speaking after inaugurating the first International Ramayana Mela at FICCI Auditorium, in New Delhi.
The Prime Minister said that world affairs are no longer on one track. Soft power is becoming increasingly critical in world affairs across the world, he said. He said that India should leverage its great traditions and culture in forging ties with countries around the world in a way that is deeper, more personal, and therefore, far more powerful.
The Prime Minister said that all countries that have Gautam Buddha, Ram, and Ramayana as part of their own culture have a bond with India that transcends diplomatic ties. In the domain of soft power, he said, India has a lot to offer to the world.
The Prime Minister spoke of the days when the television serial “Ramayana” used to air on Indian television and said that this tale brought together people across ages and geographies. Giving the example of Jatayu in Ramayana as a character who strove to protect a woman’s honour with “अभय” and “निर्भय” (fearlessness), he said that the story of Ramayana has a message at its core that remains relevant today, in this case, that of respect for women.
The Prime Minister said that the concept of “Ram Rajya” was a vision that is relevant to this day:
• It held an important message for health sector today: “अल्पमृत्यु नहिं कवनिउ पीरा। सब सुंदर सब बिरुज सरीरा।।“, i.e. None dies prematurely, all are physically healthy and strong.
• It held a message for social harmony: “सब नर करहिं परस्पर प्रीती। चलहिं स्वधर्म निरत श्रुति नीती॥“, i.e. There is social harmony and an environment of mutual trust and love amongst all. All are fulfilling their dharma, their responsibility.
• Of the conduct of citizens, it envisioned, “सब उदार सब पर उपकारी। बिप्र चरन सेवक नर नारी॥“, i.e. All are generous and giving. All men and women are in service of others.
• Of social conduct, it said: “बयरु न कर काहू सन कोई। राम प्रताप विषमता खोई।।“, i.e. Under Ram’s grace, all disparities and differences melt down and none engage in enmity.
The Prime Minister said that the Ramayana, thus, held the wisdom behind every aspect of an ideal society.
He added that we need to overcome the view that connection with Delhi is connection with India, as India is a large and diverse nation. In this respect, he said, that the International Ramayana Mela is a positive beginning for connecting with the small towns and cities of India, thus truly connecting with the real India.
Union Minister for External Affairs, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, was present on the occasion and outlined the format of the International Ramayana Mela in her opening remarks.