My dear countrymen, Namaskar. I begin ‘Mann Ki Baat’ today with a heavy heart. 10 days ago, Mother India had to bear the loss of many of her valiant sons. These brave hearts made the supreme sacrifice in securing the lives of a hundred & twenty five crore Indians. In order to ensure that their fellow countrymen could sleep peacefully, these brave sons toiled relentlessly, day or night. As a consequence of the Pulwama terror attack and the sacrifice of the brave jawans, people across the country are agonized and enraged. All around, there is a deluge of strong feelings of sympathy for the martyrs & their family members. The outrage that singes your being and mine on account of the terrorizing violence replicates itself in the collective inner psyche’ of every citizen of the country; it also echoes in pro-humanity communities of the world, which sincerely believe in humanity. I respectfully bow to all the brave sons of the country, who laid down their lives, protecting the honour of their motherland, India. This martyrdom will keep inspiring us relentlessly to uproot the very base of terrorism; it will fortify our resolve. We shall have to take up this challenge facing our country, forgetting all barriers of casteism, communalism, regionalism and other difference, so that, our steps against terror are firmer, stronger and more decisive. Our armed forces have consistently displayed unparalleled courage and valour. On the one hand, they have displayed exemplary capabilities in restoring peace; on the other, they have retaliated in equal measure, in a language the attackers understand.
You must have seen how within a hundred hours of the attack, retributive action was accomplished. The Army has resolved to wipe out terrorists and their harbourers. The martyrdom of these brave soldiers brought to the fore, through the media, touching, inspiring stories of their kin, whichgive hope and strength to the entire country. The fortitude displayed by Ram Niranjanji, father of Martyr Ratan Thakur of Bhagalpur, Bihar, in this moment of tribulation is truly inspiring. He has expressed the wish of sending his second son too, to take on the enemy; if need be, he himself would go and fight. The country salutes the indomitable courage of Meenaji, wife of Martyr PrasannaSahu of Jagatsinghpur, Odisha. She has vowed to send her only son to join the CRPF. When the mortal remains of Martyr Vijay Soren, draped in the tricolor reached Gumla, Jharkhand, his innocent son iterated that he too would join the armed forces. The mettle of this innocent lad is a representative sample of the feelings of each &every child of the Nation today. Similar sentiments are coming to the fore in the households of our brave heart martyrs. No martyr, no family is an exception to that.
Whether it be the family of Martyr Vijay Maurya of Devariya, the parents of Martyr Tilakraj of Kangra or the six year old son of Martyr Hemraj of Kota – the story of every family of martyrs is full of inspiration. I urge the young generation to know and understand the fortitude and the sentiment displayed by these families. To understand the virtues of patriotism, sacrifice and perseverance, one doesn’t need to revert to historical events. These are but living examples before your eyes… these very examples are a source of inspiration for the future of a rising & glowing India.
My dear countrymen, the rather long wait after Independence for a War Memorial is about to be over. It is natural for our countrymen to be curious about it. On the Narendra Modi App, Shri Onkar Shetty ji of Udupi, Karnataka has expressed his happiness on the completion of the National War Memorial. India not having a National War Memorial used to surprise me, pain me… a Memorial that would house the valour saga series of our brave soldiers who laid down their lives, safe guarding their nation’s security. And I took a resolve that the country must have such a Memorial.
We decided to erect the National War Memorial and I am contented to see it attaining completion in so little a time. Tomorrow, that is on the 25th of February, crores of we Indians will dedicate this National Soldiers’ Memorial to our Armed Forces. On part of the nation, this will be a small step towards repaying a great debt.
This new memorial has been instituted in the heart of Delhi, in close vicinity of India Gate and Amar JawanJyoti. I do believe that for our countrymen a visit to the National War Memorial will be akin to a pilgrimage to a holy place. The National Soldiers’ Memorial is a symbol of the nation’s gratitude to those men who made the supreme sacrifice after we gained Independence. The Memorial’s design symbolises the indomitable courage of our immortal soldiers. The concept of the National Soldiers’ Memorial is based on the notion of four concentric circles, which depicts the journey of a soldier from coming into being, culminating in his martyrdom. The flame of the Amar Chakra symbolizes the immortality of the martyred soldier. The second circle, Veerta Chakra, depicts the courage and bravery of our soldiers. It is a gallery whose walls are inscribed with soldiers’ tales of valour. This is followed by the Tyag Chakra. This circle stands for the sacrifice of our soldiers. This bears the names of soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice, in letters of gold. Following that is the Rakshak Chakra which depicts the spirit of security. This circle houses a row of dense trees. These trees represent soldiers and send a reassuring message to the country’s citizens that our soldiers vigilantly guard borders round the clock and that they, the citizens are safe. If you take a holistic view, the National Soldiers’ Memorial is sure to turn out to be a sacred site, where people will throng, to get information on our great martyrs, to express their gratitude, to conduct further research on them. This place stands testimony to a series of sacrifices of men who laid down their lives for the sake of their country, so that we could live, so that the country could be safe & secure, paving the way for development. One falls short of words in assessing the enormous contribution of our Armed Forces, Police and Para Military Forces in the strides of progress achieved by the country.
In the month of Octoberlast year, I was blessed with the opportunity to dedicate the National Police Memorial to the nation. That too echoed the same sentiment, and we believe that we should be ever grateful to those policemen & police women, who relentlessly ensure our safety & security. I do hope that you will pay a visit to the National Soldiers’ Memorial and the National Police Memorial. Whenever you are there, do capture images and share them on social media so that others get inspired to come & visit this sacred site with eagerness.
My dear countrymen, for ‘Mann Ki Baat’, I keep getting thousands of letters and comments from your side, on various platforms. Once while I was going through your comments, I came across an interesting point by AtishMukhopadhyayji. He has written that on the 3rd of March, 1900, the British arrested BirsaMunda, when he was just 25 years old. Coincidentally, the 3rd of March is also the birth anniversary of Jamsetji Tata. He further states that despite both personalities hailing from diverse family backgrounds, they enriched the legacy and the history of Jharkhand. Paying tributes to BirsaMunda and Jamsetji Tata is, in a way, salutation to the glorious legacy and history of Jharkhand. These two distinguished personalities brought glory &honour not just to Jharkhand, but the entire country. The country is indeed grateful for their contribution. Today, if an inspiring personality is required for ably guiding our youth, it certainly is that of BhagwanBirsaMunda. The British tree treacherously arrested him when he was asleep, in a covert manner. Do you know why they had to resort to such a cowardly operation? Because even the British who raised a mighty empire used to be terrified of him. BhagwanBirsaMunda took on the might of the guns & cannons of the British, using traditional bows and arrows, to shake them apart. The fact is, when people are blessed with exemplary leadership, the might of arms pales in comparison to the collective will power of the people. BhagwanBirsaMunda not only waged a struggle against the British for political freedom; he also actively fought for the social & economic rights of the tribal folk. And he accomplished all this in his rather short life. He let sunshine peep into the darkened lives of the deprived and the oppressed. BhagwanBirsaMunda sacrificed his life at the tender age of twenty five. Illustrious sons of Mother India, such as BirsaMunda have come into being in each & every part of the country. There must’ve been hardly any part of India, which did not produce someone who contributed in the long freedom struggle,that spanned centuries. But it’s a misfortune that these tales of valour and sacrifice did not reach the new generations. If the valourousBhagwanBirsaMunda made us aware of our existence & identity, far-sightedJamsetji Tata created great institutions for the country. Jamsetji Tata was a true visionary, who not only foresaw India’s future, but also duly laid strong foundations. He knew very well that making India a hub of science, technology and industry was imperative for her future. It was his vision that culminated in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Science, which we know as Indian Institute of Science today. Not just that, he also established world renowned institutions and industries such as Tata Steel. On a voyage to America, Jamsetji Tata met Swami Vivekananda on the ship, and an important topic of their discussion was the outreach & spread of Science & Technology in India. It is said… this very discussion led to the founding of the Indian Institute of Science.
My dear countrymen, our former Prime Minister Morarji Desai was born on the 29th of February. All of you know that this day comes just once in four years. A simple, peace loving personality, Morarjibhai was one of the most disciplined leaders. In Independent India, the record of presenting the budget the maximum number of times is held by Morarjibhai Desai. Morarji Desai steered the course of the country through some difficult times, when the very democratic fabric of the country was under a threat. To save democracy, Morarji Desai flung himself in the movement against imposition of Emergency.For this, he had to pay a heavy price in his old age. The government of that time arrested and incarcerated him. But when the Janata Party won the general elections in 1977, he became the Prime Minister of the country. During his tenure, the 44th constitutional amendment was introduced. This was important because the 42nd amendment which was brought during the emergency, curtailed the powers of the Supreme Court and implemented provisions which stood to violate our democratic values, was struck down. The 44th amendment, made it mandatory that the proceedings of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies were made public through the newspapers. This amendment, restored certain powers of Supreme Court and declared that the fundamental rights granted under Article 20 and 21 of the Constitution could not be abrogated during the Emergency.
For the first time constitutional safeguards guaranteed that the President could only announce the emergency upon the written recommendation of the Cabinet, and that the period of emergency could not be extended more than six months at any stretch of time. In this way, Morarji Bhai ensured that the way democracy was assassinated in 1975 by imposition of emergency, could never be repeated againin the future. Theupcoming generations of our nation will always remember his priceless contribution in maintaining the sanctity of Indian democracy. Once again I pay my homage to a great leader like him.
My beloved countrymen, this year too, there was a great buzz about the Padma award. Today as we head towards a new India, in which we want to honour those who are doing their work at the grass-root level without any care for a reward. They, by their diligence, are powering positive changes in the lives of others in myriad ways. In reality they are true ‘Karmyogis,’ who are selflessly engaged in public service, social service and, above all, in the service to the nation. You must have been a witness yourself to the curiosity in the air when the Padma awards are announced, and people are inquisitive about the awardees. In a way, I consider this to be a huge pat on the back because these are people who are not on the front page of a Magazine or Newspaper or on our TV screens. They are far removed from the world of glitter and glare, and are people who do not care about name or fame but simply believe in toiling at the proletarian level.
Theybelieve in living in the manner as preached by the shloka of Srimadbhagvad Gita ‘Yoga: KarmasuKaushalam’, or excellence in action is yoga. I would like to tell you about some of these people. You must have heard about Odisha’s DaitariNayak, who is not nicknamed the ‘Canal Man of Odisha’ for nothing, DaitariNayakchiselled through the mountain literally with his hands and carved a three kilometers long canal in his village, and put to restforever the problem of irrigation and water by the sheer dint of his labour. Take the case of Abdul Ghafoor Khatri of Gujarat, whohas done an amazing job of reviving the traditional Rogan painting form of Kutch. He is doing a great job of extending this rare painting art form to the present generation. I had gifted a Roganpainting titled ‘Tree of Life’ done by Abdul Gafoor, to the former President of USA, Mr. Barack Obama.
Among the recipients of the Padma award, ShabbirSayyed of Marathwada is known as the servant of Gau-Mata. The manner he has spent his entire life in the service of Gau-mata, is unique in itself. Madurai Chinna Pillai is the same person who at first tried to empower the downtrodden and the exploited through the Kalanjiyam movement in Tamil Nadu and initiated community based microfinancing. America’s Tao Porchon-Lynch will leave you astounded, Lynch has become a living institution of yoga today. Even at the age of 100, she is training yoga to people from all over the world and till now has trained 1500as yoga teachers. JamunaTudu, famous nicknamed ‘Lady Tarzan’ in Jharkhand, most valiantly took on the Timber Mafia and Naxalites, and not only saved the 50 hectares of forest but also inspired ten thousand women to unite and protect the trees and wildlife. It is a tribute to Jamunaji’s diligence that today, on the birth of every child,villagersplant 18 trees. Also, 10 trees are planted on the marriage of a girl in the village.
The story of MuktabenPankajkumarDagali of Gujarat will fill you with inspiration despite being a divyang herself, it is difficult to find an example than what Muktaben did for the upliftment of divyang women by establishing the institution named ChakshuMahilaSevakunj, through the medium of which she has been engaged in a virtuousendeavour to make visually challenged children self-reliant. The story of ‘KisanChachi’, i.e. ‘Farmer Aunty’ of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, or Rajkumari Devi is very inspiring. She has established a precedent in the direction of women empowerment and farming. Rajkumari Deviadded 300 women of her area to a ‘Self Help Group’ and motivated the entire lot become financially self-reliant. She not only trained the women of the village in pursuing other gainful means of employment, but most importantly she integrated technology with agricultureand my dear countrymen, it has perhaps happenedfor the first time, that in the roll of Padma awards bestowed this year, 12 farmers have been the recipients. Generally, very few people associated with the agricultural world or those very few who can be labeled as real farmers have ever found their name in the list of Padmashree awards. This in itself presents the live and vibrant image of a changing India.
My dear countrymen, today I wish to narrate a heart rending experience with you which I’ve beenwanting to do past few days. At present, whenever I’m touring, it is my sincere effort to meet people beneficiaries of ‘PMJAY’ scheme under Ayushman Bharat’s umbrella. ‘PMJAY’ means to some of the beneficiaries, like the single mother whose unable to set her small children treated due to lack of money or the head of the family who was sustaining his family by the sweat of his brow and met with an accident and was unable to work, he too has benefitted due to this scheme, regained his health and is virtually living a new life!
Brothers and Sisters, about 12 lakhimpoverished families have benefitted from this scheme over a period of last five months. I have found that it brings about a transformation in the life of the have-nots. If you know a poor person who is unable to procure treatment due to lack of money, do inform him about this scheme. In fact this scheme is meant for the benefit of such underprivileged people.
My dear countrymen, exam time in schools throughout the nation is soon going to dawn upon us. In the next few weeks various education boards across the country will initiate the process for the board examinations of the tenth and twelfth standards. My best wishes to all the students who’re going to appear for their examinations, their parents and all the teachers as well.
A few weeks ago, an immense event entitled ‘ParikshaPeCharcha’ was organised in Delhi in the format of a Town Hall programme. In this Town Hall programme, I had the opportunity to talk with crores of students from India and abroad, and also with their parents and teachers; a possibility through the aegis of technology. One of the focal points of ‘ParikshaPeCharcha’ was that there were lively interactions on various topics related with the entire process of examinations. There are many such aspects which emerged out of these discussions which are definitely going to be beneficial for the students. All the students, their teachers and parents can watch the recording of this entire event on YouTube, and I take this opportunity to wish all the best to all my’exam warriors’, for their upcoming examinations.
My dear countrymen, no mention of India can be complete without citing its festivals. It is just not possible that a day passes without any significance associated with it, or does not herald a festival! Our culture has a continuum spread over many millennia and it is a part of our heritage. In a few days from now, Mahashivrartri will be celebrated, and that too on a Monday, and when a Shivratri falls on a Monday, it becomes all that special in our heart of our hearts! I extend felicitations on this pious occasion of Mahashivratri to you all.
My dear countrymen, some days ago I went to Kashi and there I got a chance to spend time with my divyang brothers and sisters. Many topics were discussed in their company and their confidence was really striking –it was inspiring. During the conversation with one of them, a visually challenged young man, and he mentioned that he happened to be a stage artist, and specialized in mimicry during entertainment programs, so just like that I asked him as to who all he could imitate! And he told me that he could mimic the Prime Minister. So I requested a demonstration and a pleasant surprise was in store for me. He mimicked the very exact way I converse with you during ‘Mann KiBaat’. I was very happy to hear that people not only listen to ‘Mann KI Baat’ but also remember it on many occasions. I was really impressed with the prowess of that divyang young man.
My dear countrymen, connecting with all of you, courtesy the ‘Mann KiBaat’ program has been a really wonderful experience for me. Through radio I connect every month with millions of families. Many times while conversing with you, reading your letters or listening to your thoughts sent on the phone, I feel that you have adopted me as part of your family. This has been a very sublime experience for me.
Friends, elections are the biggest celebration of democracy. In the next two months, we will be busy in the hurly-burly of the general elections. I myself will also be a candidate during this election. In maintainingrespect for healthy democratic traditions, the next episode of ‘Mann KiBaat’ will be broadcast on the last Sunday of the month of May. This means I shall take up our thoughts and ideas accumulated over the three months of March, April & entire May after the Elections, with confidence anew. With the power of your blessings, once again I shall begin this series of conversations through ‘Mann Ki Baat’… and shall keep doing ‘Mann Ki Baat’ with you for years. Once again, I thank all of you from the core of my heart.