PM Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed the nation in his monthly programme on the 'Mann Ki Baat'. This was the first 'Mann Ki Baat' program since PM Modi's stupendous victory in the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019 and him taking over the Prime Ministerial post for the second time.
Highlights from the show include PM Modi asking the citizens to make water conservation a movement akin to the Swachh Bharat one, the Lok Sabha elections, and his views on the Emergency period.
My dear countrymen Namaskar. After a rather long pause, we are resuming once again, our series of touching upon matters close to people and their hearts; in fact subjects close to every person’s heart… I am once again amidst you with our ‘Mann Ki Baat’. The rigours of Elections called for hectic preoccupation, but the one thing that was missing was the sheer joy of ‘Mann Ki Baat.’ For me, it was like experiencing a kind of void. It used to be a chat in a genial atmosphere amidst the warmth of one’s own family of 130 crore countrymen; we would listen, we would re-iterate; at times our expressions would turn into an inspiration for someone close to us.
You can imagine how this period must have made one feel. Sunday, the last Sunday, at 11 o’clock, even I used to be uneasy, with a nagging feeling of a kind of emptiness… you too felt the same, didn’t you? I am sure you did. Perhaps, this was not a lifeless programme. It was full of liveliness, warmth and fondness. And that is why, for me the intervening period was very difficult to bear. I used to miss something every moment; when I express myself through ‘Mann Ki Baat,’ the one speaking is me, the words are mine, the voice is mine, but the story is yours, the ‘Purusharth’ pertaining to your pursuits and goals is yours, the ‘Parakram’, the achievement is yours.
I just used my words and my voice and that is why, I was not missing the programme… I was missing you. I was undergoing a bout of emptiness. There came a moment when I felt the need to reach out to you immediately after the Elections concluded. Then I thought… No! The established Sunday sequence should be maintained. But this Sunday has made one wait endlessly! Anyway, finally the opportunity has dawned. In a family like atmosphere, these plain, simple reflections become the reason for change in life, in society. Begetting a new spirit, in a way fortifying the spirit of New India, let us wish this endeavour embarks upon its onward journey.
Over the last few months, many messages have poured in, with people stating that they have been missing ‘Mann Ki Baat’. When I read them, when I hear them, it gives me joy. It’s a warm feeling of kinship. There are times when I feel that this is my journey from the self to the unabridged whole; my journey from ‘I’ to ‘We’. For me, this nonvocal conversation with you was a part of my feelings during my spiritual journey. Amidst hectic Election engagements, many people asked me a flurry of questions on why I had gone up to Kedarnath.
You have every right; I can understand your curiosity… and I too feel that my sentiments reach you. But today, I think, if I change the course of the conversation that way, the entire complexion of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ will change. Amidst the rigours of the Election, speculations on victory or defeat, before the polling was yet to start; I undertook the journey. Most people have derived political conclusions out of that. For me, it was an opportunity to meet myself. In a way, I undertook the journey to meet my inner self. I shall not reveal other things today, but I certainly want to tell you that perhaps in that solitary cave, I got an opportunity to fill up the vacuum caused due to the long pause that ‘Mann Ki Baat’ had to go through. The rest is your inquisitiveness… I think, someday I’ll talk about that too. WHEN, I can’t say, but I’ll do it for sure. You have every right as far as I am concerned. The way people have expressed their wish to know about Kedar, I feel a similar effort on your part to lay emphasis on positive things, which I get to know through your expressions.
The letters which steadily pour in for ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the inputs that are received are entirely different from routine Government matters. One way, a letter from you can act as a source of inspiration for me; on the other it may turn out to be a source of energy for me. There are times when some of your words act as a catalyst in sharpening my thought process. People bring to the fore challenges facing the country and society; they also come out with solutions for the same. I have seen for myself that in their letters, people go to great lengths in describing their problems; it is fascinating to see that in the same breath, they express directly or indirectly, a relevant solution or two, one suggestion or the other, or even an idea! If someone refers to sanitation and cleanliness, he or she invariably voices angst against filth & dirt, but on the same page appreciates efforts being under way to ensure cleanliness.
When somebody talks about the environment, one can easily sense his or her crucial concerns on the matter; at the same time, experiments that the person has attempted or seen also come to the surface, with vivid descriptions of new ideas on the issue. This means, I can closely get a fair idea of your point, in terms of extrapolating a solution to a certain problem on a society- wide scale. ‘Mann Ki Baat’is like a mirror to the country & our society. It conveys to us that there is no dearth of inner fortitude, strength & talent within our countrymen.
The need of the hour is to synergise those strengths and talents, to provide opportunities, to implement them. ‘Mann Ki Baat’ also tells us that a 130 crore countrymen wish to be, strongly and actively, a part of the nation’s progress. I receive a lot of letters and phone calls in ‘Mann Ki Baat’, but the element of complaint is negligible and I would like to tell you that in the last five years, I have not come across a single instance where somebody has asked for something for personal gain. Just imagine… a person writing to the Prime Minister of the country, but seeking nothing for one’s own self… it is a reflection on the lofty collective demeanour of crores of people in the country. When I analyse this, you can visualise how heartening it must be for me, what a source of energy it is for me.
You possibly don’t know that you are the ones who make me walk, who make me run and keep me full of life and zest… this is the very bond that I used to miss. My heart is filled to the brim with joy today. When it was about to end, I had stated that we would meet once again after 3 or 4 months, people assigned a political hue to it, saying ‘Hey, Modi ji is so full of confidence, he is certain!’
The confidence was not Modi’s. This trust was the trust of your foundation. You were the ones who transformed yourself into a pillar of trust. And that is why in the last episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’, then, I effortlessly said that I would be back after a few months. Actually speaking, I have not RETURNED; you brought me back, you positioned me here and gave me the opportunity to speak once again. With this sentiment, come, let’s take ‘Mann Ki Baat’ forward.
When Emergency was imposed on the country, resistance against it was not limited to the political arena or politicians; the movement was not curtailed to the confines of prison cells. There was an outrage in the conscience of one and all. The collective torment on the loss of democracy was evident. Day and night, when one gets to eat food on time, one doesn’t realize what hunger pangs are.
Similarly, in day to day life, it is difficult to savour the joy of democratic rights, unless they are snatched away. During Emergency, every citizen of the country had started getting the feeling that something that belonged to him had been snatched away. If what was snatched had never been enjoyed by that person, ever, it had to eventually precipitate into a painful inner agony. And it was not just on account of the fact that the constitution of India has made certain provisions that enabled Democracy to blossom. Of course, in order to ensure smooth conduct of the social order, a constitution is required… laws & rules are necessary, rights and duties should be part of due discourse.
But, India can proudly proclaim that for us, beyond laws & rules, Democracy is embedded in our sanskar; Democracy is our culture. Democracy is our heritage; we grew up, nurturing ourselves on the fruits of that very heritage. And that is why the lack of it can be felt deeply by our countrymen, which is what we underwent during Emergency. And precisely for that, the country sacrificed one full Election, not for her own sake, but for the sake of protecting democracy. Perhaps, nowhere else in the world had citizens voted, without bothering about other rights & requirements, just for the sake of saving democracy. And the country had witnessed one such Election in ’77. Just recently, our country celebrated a mega festival of democracy, a mammoth Election Campaign, from the rich to the poor, all were happily eager in this festival to decide the fate of their country.
When something is in close proximity of us, we tend to underestimate its importance; we ignore even amazing facts about it. We have been blessed with a Democracy so invaluable, yet we take it for granted so easily. But, we must keep reminding ourselves that our Democracy is gloriously great, it flows in our veins, through centuries of Sadhana, dedicated practice, through the sanskar, attributes that have been passed on from generations over, through a collective largeness of the heart. In the 2019 Loksabha Election, India saw over 61 crore voters exercising their franchise… yes 61 crores.
We can think of this figure as one ordinary but if I place it in a global perspective, if you exclude China, the number of people who voted in India exceeds the population of any other country in the world. The number of people who voted in the 2019 Lok Sabha Election is more than the entire population of America, close to double the figure. The total number of voters in India exceeds the entire population of Europe. This stands for the sheer size & spread of our Democracy. The 2019 Lok Sabha Election in history by far, was the largest democratic Election ever held in the world. You can imagine the kind of resources and manpower that was required for such a mammoth exercise. Lakhs of teachers, officers & staff strived day & night to make it possible.
In order to successfully conclude this ‘Mahayagya’, on the one hand, whereas close to three lakh paramilitary personnel discharged their duty; on the other, 20 lakh Police personnel of various states too, persevered with due diligence. It is on account of these people that this time voting took place on a larger scale compared to the previous Election. For the voting, there were around 10 lakh polling stations, more than 40 lakh EVM machines, over 17 lakh VVPAT machines… you can imagine the gargantuan task!
All this was done, just to ensure that no voter was deprived of his or her voting rights. In a remote area of Arunachal Pradesh, just for a lone woman voter, a polling station was created. You will be amazed to know that it took a journey of two days for personnel of the Election Commission, just to reach there… this is honour to democracy at its best. The world’s highest located polling station too, is in India.
At an altitude of 15,000 feet, it is located in the Lahaul Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. Besides this, there is another fact pertaining to these Elections, that swells our hearts with pride. Perhaps, this is the first time ever, that women have enthusiastically voted, as much as men did. This time the ratio of men & women who voted was almost the same. Another encouraging fact is that, today, there are a record 78 women Members of Parliament. I congratulate the Election Commission and every person connected with the electioneering process and salute the aware voters of India.
My dear countrymen, you may often have heard me say “No bouquet, just a book”! I had urged all to choose books over flowers in welcome or felicitation ceremonies. Since then, people have been offering books at many a place. Just recently, someone gave me a book entitled ‘Premchand Ki Lokapriya Kahaniyan’, popular short stories by Premchand. It was a great feeling. Of course, I couldn’t get much time, but during my travelling, I got an opportunity to read some of his short stories once again. Images of the stark social realities that Premchand has portrayed in his stories vividly start forming in one’s mind when you read them.
Each & every element of his writings comes alive. His stories are expressions of human emotions through simple, lucid language… they have touched my heart. His stories embody the collective psyche’, the cumulative being of the country, of the land. While reading one of his stories ‘Nashaa’, I couldn’t help but notice the scourge of economic disparity plaguing society. I was reminded of my younger days… how debates on this subject would carry on through entire nights! The moral of this story featuring the landholder’s son Eeshwari and Beer from a poor family is that if you are not careful enough, you will never know when the bane of bad company engulfs you. The other story that touched the core of my heart was ‘Eidgah’… the sensitivity of a young lad, his unsullied love for his grandmother, such maturity at that early age! When 4-5 years old Hamid comes back to his grandma with a pair of tongs, indeed, it stirs human emotions to their supreme pinnacle. The concluding line of this story makes one very emotional since it holds a vital truth about life, “Young Hamid played the role of aged Hamid – aged Ameena had turned into child Ameena”.
Another such poignant story is ‘Poos Ki Raat’. In this story, the living depiction of the paradoxes in a poor farmer’s life is seen. Halku the farmer is happy even after his crops are destroyed by frost, because now he will not be forced to sleep in his fields in the cold winter. Though these stories were written about a century ago but remain relevant all the same even today. After reading these stories, I felt myself to be empathetic.
Now that we are conversing about reading, then in some extension of media, I had read about the Akshara Library in Kerala. You will be surprised to learn that this library lies in a village nestling within the dense forests of Idukki. A Primary school teacher, P.K.Muralidharan and P.V.Chinnathampi who runs a small tea shop, have between them worked tirelessly for this library. There was a time when the books were brought here stuffed in sacks and carried on the back. Today this library is a beacon guiding tribal children on a new path.
The Vaanche Gujarat campaign carried out in Gujarat was a successful experiment. Participants hailing from every age group in lakhs, participated in this campaign to read books. I will still urge you in today’s digital world and in the time of Google Guru, to take some time out from your daily routine and devote it to the book. You will really enjoy it a lot and do write about whichever book you read on the NarendraModi App so that all the listeners of Mann Ki Baat’ also get to know about it.
My dear countrymen, I am happy that the people of our country are thinking about issues, which are posing a challenge not only at the present but also the future. I was reading your comments on NarendraModi App and Mygov and I saw that many people have written a lot about the prevailing water problem. Pawan Gaurai of Belagavi, Sitanshu Mohan Parida of Bhubaneswar, Yash Sharma, Shahab Altaf and many others have written about the challenges related with water. Water is of great importance in our culture. Rigveda’sApahSuktam says this about water:
“Meaning that it is water which is the life force and also, the source of energy. Please bless us like a mother and may your blessings continue on to be showered upon us.”
Water scarcity affects many parts of the country every year. You will be surprised that only 8% of the water received from rains in the entire year is harvested in our country. Just and just 8%! Now the time has come to find a solution to this problem. I believe, like the other problems on hand, we can also solve this predicament by the participation of the people, Janbhagidariand their power, Janshakti we are bound to find a solution through the strength, cooperation and resolution of one hundred and thirty crore citizens.
Therefore keeping the importance of water in mind, a new Jalashakti ministry has been created in the country. This will allow faster decision-making on all subjects related to water. A few days ago I tried to do something different. I wrote a letter to the Sarpanchs and Gram Pradhans across the country. That in order to save water, to collect water, to save the very drops of the rainwater, they should convene a meeting of the Gram Sabha and sit and discuss the resolution to this problem with the villagers. I am happy that they have shown exemplary enthusiasm on this front and on 22nd of this month crores of people contributed free labour, Shramdaanacross thousands of panchayats. People in village after village resolved to accumulate every single drop of rainwater.
Today, I want to narrate the story of a sarpanch in the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme. Come let’s listen to what the Sarpanch of LupungPanchayat of Katakmasandi block in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand has to say to all of us through this message:
This is Birsa Munda’s land, where cohabiting in harmony with nature is a part of the culture. The people here, once again, are ready to play their active role in water conservation. For my part I wish good luck to all the village heads and all the sarpanchs for their dynamism. There are several Sarpanchs across the country who have taken the lead in water conservation. In a way, entire villages have grasped this opportunity as collective responsibility. And it seems that the denizens of the villages have become involved in the competition for raising a ‘water temple,’ in their respective villages. As I’ve said, a collective effort begets massive positive results. There cannot be a single formula for dealing with water crisis across the country. For this, efforts are being made in different parts of the country, in diverse ways. But the goal remains the same, and that is to save water and adopt water conservation.
The drainage lines are being fixed in Punjab. This effort would rid of the problem of water logging. The construction of the water-tank in Telangana’sThimmaipalli is changing the lives of the people of the village. There has been a major change through construction of small ponds in the fields at Kabirdham in Rajasthan. I was reading about the collective endeavour in Vellore of Tamilnadu where 20 thousand women came together to revive the Nag river. I have also read about those women of Garhwal, who are working together on the good work of implementing rainwater harvesting. I believe that many such attempts are being made and we can turn impossible in to possible when we are together and strive with collective resolve. When people will join hands, water will be conserved. Today, through the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme, I am entreating 3 requests to the fellow countrymen.
My first request is that just like cleanliness drive has been given the shape of a mass movement by the countrymen, let’s also start a mass movement for water conservation. We together should all resolve to save every drop of water and I believe that water is God’s prasad to us, water is like philosopher’s stone! Earlier it was said that by the touch of philosopher’s stone, iron could be transmuted in to gold. I tell you, water is philosopher’s stone and its mere touch creates and regenerates life! Let us start an awareness campaign to save even a single drop of water. In this campaign not only should we focus on water related problems but propagate ways to save water as well. I specifically urge the luminaries belonging to different walks of life to lead promotion of water conservation through innovative campaigns. Whether it be from the world of films, sports, our friends in the media, people belonging to social organizations, people associated with cultural organizations or people involved in conducting devotional congregations such as Katha – Kirtan, everyone should lead this movement in their own fashion. We must wake up the society, unite the society and join the society in this endeavour. You’ll see, we will find change occurring in front of our own eyes.
My second request to the countrymen is to share many traditional methods that have been in use over the centuries in our country for the conservation of water. I urge all of you to share these traditional methods of water conservation. If any of you gets an opportunity to go to Porbandar, the place of birth of revered Bapu, then there is a house behind the house of revered Bapu, where a 200-year old water tank still exists. It is still capable of storing water and has a mechanism to harvest rain water! As I always say that whosoever visits Kirti Mandir, should also pay a visit to that Water Tank. And there must be many types of such examples of experimentation in water conservation throughout our nation!
My third request to all of you is that share the information concerning the people who are making significant contributions towards water conservation, NGOs and everyone else associated in the area of water conservation in order to create an intensive database of individuals and organizations dedicated to water preservation. Come let us join water conservation, and involve ourselves in making a list of more and more innovative methods to motivate people to conserve water. You can all share your content using the # JanShakti4JalShakti hashtag.
My dear countrymen, I must express my gratitude to you and to the people of the world for one more thing! On 21st June, once again, Yoga Day was celebrated together with fervor and enthusiasm, there were instances of three-four generations of each family coming together to participate on Yoga Day. The awareness about Holistic Health Care has enhanced the glory of yoga and Yoga day. In any corner of the world, yoga enthusiast welcomes the sun as soon it rises and then there is the complete journey ending with sunset. There must hardly be a place where a human being exists without a bond with Yoga; Yoga has assumed such an iconic form. In India, over the Himalayas, across the Indian Ocean, from the lofty heights of Siachen to the depths of a Submarine, from air-force to aircraft carriers, from air-conditioned gyms to hot desert and from villages to cities – wherever possible, yoga was not just practiced everywhere, but was also celebrated collectively.
The Presidents, Prime Ministers, celebrities and ordinary citizens of many countries of the world showed me on the Twitter how they celebrated Yoga in their respective nations. On that day, the world appeared to be like one big happy family.
We all know that healthy and sensitive denizens are required to build a healthy society and Yoga ensures this very principle. Therefore promotion of Yoga is a great example of social service. Should we not recognize such service and bestow it with honour? In the year 2019, the announcement of Prime Minister’s Awards for excellence in the promotion and development of yoga was a matter of great satisfaction for me. This award would be bestowed on those organizations around the world, whose significant and unique contributions in the promotion of yoga you cannot even imagine!
For example, take ‘Japan Yoga Niketan’, which has made Yoga popular throughout Japan. Japan Yoga Niketan runs many institutes and conducts various training courses. Italy’s Ms. Antonietta Rozzi, has started “Sarv Yoga International,” and popularized Yoga throughout Europe. These are inspirational examples in themselves. If there is a topic related to yoga, then can Indians lag behind others? The Bihar Yoga Vidyalaya in Munger dedicated to yoga from past many decades was also honoured. Similarly, Swami Rajarsrhi Muni the founder of Life Mission and Lakulish Yoga University was also honoured. The widespread celebration of Yoga and honouring those missionaries taking Yoga to the doorsteps of the common folk made this Yoga day special.