Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birlaji, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Shri Harivanshji, my colleagues in Union Cabinet Shri PralhadJoshiji, Shri Hardeep Singh Puriji, representatives on different political parties, Parliament Speakers from many countries who are present through virtual medium, ambassadors of many countries who are present here, members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, other dignitaries and my dear countrymen, today’s day is very historic. Today is a milestone in India's democratic history. The launch of the construction of the Parliament House of India, with the idea of indianness by Indians, is one of the most important milestones of our democratic traditions. We the people of India will construct this new Parliament building together.
Friends, it can’t be more beautiful or more pure that the new building of our Parliament becomes the very inspiration when India celebrates 75 years of its independence. Today is a day of great privilege and pride for more than 130 crore Indians who we are witnessing this historic moment.
Friends, the construction of the new Parliament House is an example of the coexistence of new and old. It is an attempt to bring about a change in oneself according to time and needs. I can’t forget that moment when I got the opportunity to enter the Parliament House for the first time in 2014 as an MP. I had bowed my head and saluted this temple of democracy before stepping into it. Our present Parliament House has played an important role in forging the freedom movement first and independent India later.The first government of independent India was also formed here and the first Parliament also sat here.In this Parliament House, our Constitution was created and our democracy was restored.Baba SahebAmbedkar and other seniors presented us the Constitution after a thorough discussion in the Central Hall. The present building of Parliament has been a symbol of every ups and downs of independent India, our challenges, solutions, hopes, aspirations and success. Every law enacted in this building and serious debates during the formulation of these laws in the Parliament House are the heritage of our democracy.
Friends, it is equally necessary to accept the reality along with the dominant history of Parliament. The building is now about a hundred years old. In the past, it was continuously upgraded in view of the requirements of that time. The walls have been turned down several times in this process for new sound systems, fire safety or IT systems. The walls have also been removed to increase the seating capacity in the Lok Sabha. In spite of all this, this House of Parliament needs a break. Now, the Lok Sabha Speaker was also telling us how the need for a new Parliament House has been felt for years. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure a new Parliament House for the 21st century India. It is in this direction that it is being inaugurated today. And, therefore, today, when we are starting the construction of a new Parliament House, we are also adding new years to the life of the present Parliament complex.
Many new things are being introducedin the new Parliament House that will increase the efficiency of the MPs and modernize their work culture. For example, people have to face many problems in the present Parliament House when they come to meet the MPs from their constituencies. There is a severe shortage of space in the Parliament House for the citizens when they come here to apprise their problems to their MPs. In future, every parliamentarian will have the facility in this vast complex where he can meet the people from his constituency and discuss their problems.
If the old Parliament House gave direction to post-independence India, the new building would become a witness to the making of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat.’ If the old Parliament House worked to fulfill the needs of the country, then the aspirations of the 21st century India will be fulfilled in the new building. The new building of Parliament will establish its identity in the same way the National War Memorial near India Gate has done today. The people of the country and the generations to come will be proud to see the new building that it was built in independent India, keeping in mind the 75 years of independence.
Friends, our democracy is the source of power and energy of the Parliament House. The doubts that were expressed regarding the existence of India as a democratic nation during independence is all part of history. Prediction was made about the failure of democracy in India by citing examples of illiteracy, poverty, social diversity and inexperience. Today, we can proudly say that our country has not only proved those apprehensions wrong, but the 21st century world is also looking forward to India as an important democratic force.
Friends, it is very important forevery generation to understand why democracy succeeded in India, why it is successful and why no harm can be done to democracy. We all have heard about Magna Carta which was charted in the 13th century. Some scholars also call it the foundation of democracy. But it is equally true that the AnubhavaMantapa by Lord Basaveshwara came into existence in India in the 12th century even before Magna Carta. As part of AnubhavaMantapa, not only he built the people’s parliament, but also ensured its operation. Lord Basaveshwara said: - यी अनुभवा मंटप जन सभा, नादिना मट्ठु राष्ट्रधा उन्नतिगे हागू, अभिवृध्दिगे पूरकावगी केलसा मादुत्थादे! It means the AnubhavaMantapa is an assembly which inspires everybody to work collectively in the interest of the State and the nation and for its advancement. AnubhavaMantapa was a form of democracy.
Friends, even before this period, there is a very important historical evidence in the village of Uttaramerur, 80-85 kilometres away from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. There are inscriptions on the stones in Tamil language about the Panchayat system prevalent during the Chola Empire in the 10th century. It explains how every village was categorized as Kudumbu, which we call the ward today. One representative from these kudumbus was sent to the General Assembly, as it happens today. The General Assembly, which used to take place in this village thousandsof years ago, is still there.
Friends, there was one more thing which was very important in this democratic system developed a thousand years ago. The inscriptions on the stones mention the provision of disqualification of a public representative to contest the election even during that time. And, the rule was that the public representative or his close relatives would not be able to contest the elections if he fails to furnish the details of his property. Think about it that so many years ago, such an aspect was deliberated upon and it wasmade a part of its democratic traditions at that time.
Friends, this history of our democracy is visible in every nook and corner of the country. We are very much familiar with some words like assembly, committee, ruler, chief of a troop of soldiers, etc. This vocabulary is entrenched in our minds. Centuries ago, be it republics like Shakya, Malla and Vejji, or Licchavi, MallakMarakand Cambodia or the Kalinga in the Mauryan period, all of them made democracy the basis of governance. In our Vedas composed thousands of years ago, the idea of democracy in Rig Veda has been seen as a collective consciousness.
Friends, when democracy is discussed elsewhere, it is all about elections, election process, elected members, their formation, governance and administration. It is largely called democracy in most places where there is emphasis on this kind of a system. But democracy in India is about life values, it is the way of life and the soul of the nation. India's democracy is a system developed through centuries of experience. There is also a life mantra, an element of life as well as a system of order in the democracy in India. From time to time, the systems and processes changed, but democracy remained the soul. And, ironically, today, India's democracy is explained to us by the Western countries. When we glorify our democratic history with confidence, the day is not far away when the world will also say: India is the Mother of Democracy.
Friends, the inherent democratic strength is giving a new momentum to the development of the country and new confidence to its countrymen. While a different situation is emerging in the democratic processes of many countries in the world, democracy in India is becoming continually innovative.In recent years, we have seen that in many democracies, voter turnover is now declining continuously. On the contrary, we see voter turnouts growing with every election in India. The participation of women and youth is also increasingcontinuously.
Friends, there is a reason behind this belief and faith. Democracy in India has always been a means of resolving differences and contradictions along with governance. Different views and perspectives empower a vibrant democracy. Our democracy has moved forward with the goal that there is always room for differences so long as it is not entirely disconnected from the process. Guru Nanak Devji has also said: जब लगु दुनिआ रहीए नानक। किछु सुणिए, किछु कहिए. That is, as long as the world is there, the dialogue should continue. The soul of the dialogue is to say and listen to something. This is the soul of democracy.Policies and politics may vary but we are for the service of the public and there should be no differences in this ultimate goal. Whether debates occur within the Parliament or outside, there should always be reflection of determination towards national service and dedication towards national interest. And, therefore, when the construction of the new Parliament House is starting today, we have to remember that it is the responsibility of all of us to arouse optimism about democracy which is the basis of the existence of the Parliament House.We always have to remember that every representative of Parliament is accountable. This accountability is towards the people and also towards the Constitution. Every decision we make should be in the spirit of the nation first and the national interest should remain paramount in every decision of ours. It is very important that we stand in one voice for the accomplishment of national resolutions.
Friends, when we build a temple, initially, its base is only bricks and stones. The construction of that building is completed due to the hard work of everybody, including artisans and craftsmen. But that building becomes a temple only when it attains perfection and is consecrated. It remains a building until it is consecrated.
Friends, the new Parliament House will also be ready, but it will remain a building until it is consecrated. But this consecration will not be of an idol. There are no rituals as such to consecrate this temple of democracy. It is the representatives of the people who come to this temple that will consecrate it. Their dedication, their service, conduct, thought and behavior will become the life of this temple. Their efforts towards the unity and integrity of India will become the energy that gives life to this temple. When each public representative will offer his knowledge, intelligence, education and experience fully here for the interest of the nation, then this new Parliament House will gain sanctity. In our country, Rajya Sabha is a Council of States which emphasizes on the federal structure of India. We have to take this pledge to work with this basic principle of the development of the State for the development of the nation, the strength of the state for the strength of the nation and the welfare of the State for the welfare of the nation.With the swearing-in of the people’s representatives who will come here in future, their contribution to this dedication will begin. It will benefit crores of people of the country. The new building of Parliament will become a place that will work to ensure happiness in the lives of the countrymen and the welfare of the people.
Friends, it has been the dream of the great men and women of our country that the 21st century becomes the century of India. We have been hearing it for a long time. The 21st century will be India's century only when each and every citizen of India will contribute to make India the best. Opportunities for India are increasing in the changing world. Sometimes, it seems as if there is a flood of opportunities. We do not have to let this opportunity slip from our hands under any circumstances. The experiences of the last century have taught us a lot. Those experiences are repeatedly reminding us that we don’t have to waste but respect the time.
Friends, I want to mention a very old and important thing today. In the year 1897, Swami Vivekanandaji made a call to the people of the country for the next 50 years. And Swamiji said that the worship of Mother India should be paramount in the next 50 years. And this was the duty of the countrymen to worship Mother India. And we saw the power of the speech of that great man. Just 50 years later, India got independence in 1947.Today, when the foundation stone of the new building of Parliament is being laid, the country also has to lay the foundation stone for a new resolution. Every citizen has to lay the foundation for new resolutions. We have to take this pledge by remembering that call of Swami Vivekanandaji. India First should be this resolution. We should make India’s growth and development as our adoration. Our every decision should empower the country. The interest of the country should be the barometer of each of our decisions.Each of our decisions should be in the interest of the present and future generations.
Friends, Swami Vivekanandaji talked about 50 years. We have the 100thanniversary of India's independence before us after 25-26 years. We have to take a resolution today and dedicate ourselves for the next 25-26 years to ensure how our country should be and how far we have to take it forward when the nation enters the 100thyear of its independence in 2047. When we take a resolution today, keeping the country's interest paramount, we will improve the future of the country, not just the present. Building a Self-reliant India, building a prosperous India, is no longer going to stop, nobody can stop it.
Friends, let us take this pledge that there will be no greater interest than the national interest for us. Let us take the pledge that our concern for the country will be more than our personal concerns. Let us take the pledge that nothing will be more important than the unity and integrity of the country. Let us take the pledge thatthe biggest goal in our life will be ensuring the dignity and expectations of the Constitution of the country.We always have to remember this spirit of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. And what was the spirit of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore? Gurudev used to say, एकोता उत्साहो धॉरो, जातियो उन्नॉति कॉरो, घुशुक भुबॉने शॉबे भारोतेर जॉय! That is we have to continue with the enthusiasm of unity. Every citizen should progress and India should be hailed all over the world!
I am sure the new building of our Parliament will inspire all of us to present a new model. May the credibility of our democratic institutions be always strengthened! With this desire, I conclude. And I invite all the countrymen to march with the pledge of 2047 in mind.
Many many thanks to all of you.