New Delhi: My dear countrymen, Namaskar. Today is the 26th of January. Heartiest greetings to you on the Festival of our Republic. This is our first meeting of minds in the year 2020, through ‘Mann Ki Baat’. This is the first such programme of the year; nay, of the decade. Friends, this time, it came across as appropriate to change the broadcast time of Mann Ki Baat, on account of the Republic Day Celebrations. And that is why I am reaching out to you this evening through Mann Ki Baat, having thought of a separate time slot. Friends, every day is a new day; weeks and months keep seeing change; years witness transformation, except for the enthusiasm and fervor of the people of India! And, of course, we are no less… we are certain to outdo ourselves. The spirit of ‘can do’, is emerging as a new resolve. The sentiment of contributing positively to the country and society is gaining strength, day by day. Friends, we have come together, once again, on the dais of Mann Ki Baat. This is to discuss newer subjects; to celebrate the latest achievements of our countrymen; in fact, to celebrate India. Mann Ki Baat has emerged as a fruitful, frank, effortless and organic platform for sharing, learning and growing together. Every month, thousands of people share their suggestions, their efforts, and their experiences thereby. And through the endeavour, we get a chance to discuss some extraordinary feats by people, which serve as a beacon of inspiration to society.
Somebody has succeeded in doing something – can we too achieve that! Can that particular venture be replicated to bring about a colossal transformation in the entire country? Can we establish that change into permanence, turning it into a simple, natural social habit? In a likewise quest to seek answers, the caravan of Mann Ki Baat progresses with a few appeals, some invocations and a lot of resolves to do something. For the past many years, we would have made varied resolves. Just as, ‘No to single use plastic’, buying Khadi or ‘local’, sanitation and cleanliness, respect and honour for the girl child, or emphasizing on the new aspect of ‘less cash economy’! Many a resolve such as these came into being on account of our conversations and chats through Mann Ki Baat. And, you have been the ones who strengthened that.
I have received a lovely letter, written by Shriman Shailesh from Bihar. In fact, he no longer stays in Bihar. He says, he stays in Delhi, working for an NGO. Shailesh writes, “Modi ji, you appeal to us on one point or the other, in every episode of Mann Ki Baat. I have implemented many of them in letter and spirit. This winter, I collected warm clothes from people, going home to home and distributed them to the needy. Taking a cue from Mann Ki Baat, I have embarked upon many initiatives. But gradually, I began forgetting… certain things started fading away. This new year, I have made a Charter pertaining to Mann Ki Baat, consisting of a list of all these, just the way people make resolutions at the onset of the New Year. Modi ji, this is my social resolution for this new year. I feel there are many little things that can usher in a big change. Can you inscribe your autograph on this Charter and arrange to send it back to me?” Well, Shailesh ji, heartiest congratulations and many good wishes to you. The Mann Ki Baat Charter in connection with your New Year resolution is very innovative. I shall certainly send it back to you, along with my best wishes inscribed. Friends, when I was glancing through this ‘Mann Ki Baat Charter’, I was taken aback at the magnitude of its contents… a multitude of hash tags. And, of course, we have striven together on myriad endeavours. There have been times when we tried to establish a stronger emotional connect with our soldiers through the campaign ‘Sandesh to Soldiers’; we have also catapulted sales of Khadi with ‘Khadi for Nation- Khadi for Fashion’. We internalized the Mantra of ‘buy local’. Through ‘Hum Fit toh India Fit’, we enhanced awareness, towards fitness. We turned sanitation into a mass movement, through the endeavours of ‘My clean India’ or ‘Statue Cleaning’. #‘No to Drugs’, #‘Bharat Ki Lakshmi’, #‘Self for Society’, #‘Stress free Exams’, #‘Suraksha- Bandhan’ #‘Digital Economy’, #‘Road Safety’…. Oh, the list is endless.
Shailesh ji, you must have realized after going through this Mann Ki Baat Charter that the list is indeed long! Come, let us continue this journey. Do join any cause of your choice listed in the Mann Ki Baat Charter. Using the hashtag, proudly share your contribution with one and all. Try motivating friends and family. When every Indian takes a step forward, it results in India going ahead by a 130 crore steps. And that’s why, it is said “Charaivetee, charaivetee, charaivetee…” Keep walking, keep marching, keep advancing! Your endeavour should revolve around that Mantra.
My dear countrymen, we touched upon the Mann Ki Baat Charter. The ethos of public participation, besides in the area of sanitation, is rising rapidly on another front… and that is water conservation. Quite a few extensive and innovative efforts are under way, in every corner of the country, for the sake of conserving water. It gives me joy to let you know that the Jal-Shakti Campaign that commenced last monsoon is taking rapid, successful strides with the aid of public participation. A large number of lakes and ponds have been built. And the best part is that in this campaign, people from all strata of society contributed wholeheartedly. Take for instance Jalore district in Rajasthan. There, two historical step wells had turned into storehouses of garbage and dirty water. But one fine day, hundreds of people from Bhadraayun and Thanawala Panchayats took a resolve to rejuvenate them, under the Jal Shakti Campaign. Much before the rains, people immersed themselves in the task of cleaning out the accumulated filthy water, garbage and morass. For this campaign, some donated money; others their labour and sweat. As a result, these step wells have turned into their lifelines now. A similar story comes across from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh.
Here, the Saraahi Lake, spread across 43 hectares was on the verge of breathing its last. But the villagers, through the power of their collective resolve pumped life into it. They did not let any deterrent enter in the way of this mammoth mission. Villages joined hands, one after the other. They built a one meter high embankment along all the four sides of the lake. The lake now is brimming with water; the surroundings wake up to the melody of the chirping of birds.
Village Suniyakot along the Almora-Haldwani highway in Uttarakhand has also emerged as a similar example of public participation. To tide over an acute water crisis, villagers took it upon themselves to ensure that water reached their village. There was no stopping to their resolve. People raised money among themselves. The plan was followed by collective donation of labour and from almost a kilometre away, a pipe was laid upto the village. A pumping station was set up. By and by, a two decade old agonizing problem came to an end. Whereas, a very innovative idea of harnessing a borewell for rainwater harvesting sprung up from Tamilnadu. The country is replete with innumerable such stories, of water conservation, lending more strength to the resolves of New India. Today the entire country is eager to hear similar accomplishments of our Jal Shakti champions. I urge you to share without fail, stories, photos and videos of such endeavours of water conservation and water harvesting undertaken by you or those around you using #Jalshakti4India.
My dear countrymen and especially all my young friends, today, through the forum of ‘Mann Ki Baat’, I congratulate the Government and the people of Assam for being the excellent hosts of ‘Khelo India’. Friends, on 22nd January, the third ‘Khelo India Games’ concluded in Guwahati. These games had around 6 thousand players from different states participating. You will be surprised to know that 80 records were broken during this grand sports festival. And I am proud that of these 80 records, 56 were broken by our daughters. These laurels have been recorded in the name of our daughters! I along with all the winners, congratulate all the participants. I also thank all the people, coaches and technical officers associated with ‘Khelo India Games’ for organising them successfully.
It is very pleasant for all of us to learn that the participation of athletes in ‘Khelo India Games’ is on the upsurge year after year. And this also tells you about the increasing inclination towards sports in our school children. I wish to tell all of you that in 2018, when ‘Khelo India Games’ were instituted, thirty-five hundred players took part, but in just three years the number of players has increased to more than 6 thousand, which translates to the fact that it has almost doubled. Not only this, in just three years, through ‘Khelo India Games’, thirty-two hundred gifted children have emerged on the sporting horizon! Many of these children grew up amidst dearth and poverty. The stories of the patience and determination of these children who participated in ‘Khelo India Games’ as well as their parents will inspire every Indian. Now take the example of Purnima Mandal of Guwahati, a sanitation worker in Guwahati Municipal Corporation! But whereas her daughter Malvika showed her mettle in football, one of her sons Sujit represented Assam in Kho-Kho, while the other son Pradeep did the same in hockey.
Somewhat similar is the story of Yogananthan of Tamil Nadu which fills you with great pride! Yogananthan makes beedis in Tamil Nadu, but his daughter Purnashree won everyone’s heart by bagging the Gold Medal in Weight Lifting. If I now take the name of David Beckham, you will think whether I’m referring to the legendary International Footballer. But now we also have a David Beckham amidst us and he has won a gold medal at the Youth Games in Guwahati. That too in the 200-meter Sprint event in Cycling! You know, some time ago I had visited Andaman-Nicobar Islands! There was David, a denizen of Car-Nicobar who had lost his parents while he was an infant! His uncle wanted him to become a footballer, and hence had named him after the famous footballer. But young David was obsessed with cycling. He was selected under the ‘Khelo India’ scheme and today you can witness for yourself that he has created a new record in cycling.
Prashant Singh Kanhaiya of Bhiwani broke his own national record in the Pole vault event. Prashant, 19, hails from an agrarian family. You will be surprised to know that Prashant used to practice Pole vault on clay! After knowing this amazing fact, the Sports Department helped his coach to run the academy at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi and today Prashant is being coached there.
The never say die story of Kareena Shankta of Mumbai inspires everyone. Kareena competed in the 100 metre breast-stroke event in swimming, won the gold medal in the Under-17 category and also set a new national record. However there was a time for Kareena, a 10th standard student when she had to forego her training due to a knee injury. But Kareena and her mother did not lose courage and the result of that fortitude is evident in front of all of us today. I wish all the players a bright future. Along with this, I also, on behalf of all our countrymen, bow in honouring those parents, who did not permit poverty to become a hurdle for the future of their children. We all know that National Games is an arena, where players get a chance to display their passion besides becoming acquainted with the culture of other states. Therefore, we have decided to organize ‘Khelo India University Games’ every year on the pattern of ‘Khelo India Youth Games’.
Friends, next month, the first edition of ‘Khelo India University Games’ is being organized in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, Odisha from 22nd February to 1st March. And more than 3000 players have qualified for participating in these games.
My dear countrymen, the exam season has arrived, and obviously all the students will be busy giving final shape to their preparations. After my experience with millions of students of the country through the platform of ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’, I can say with confidence that the youth of the country is brimming with self-confidence and is ready to face every challenge.
Friends, on the one hand, we are facing examinations; on the other, the winter season. Betwixt these two I urge you to try and keep fit. Do some exercises or play a little! Sports and games is the key to keeping fit. By the way, these days, I see that many events pertaining to ‘Fit India’ are being organised. On January 18, our young friends organized a Cyclothon throughout the country. Millions of countrymen participating in this Cyclothon spread the message of fitness. Efforts to ensure that our New India remains fit that are evident at every level fills us with fervour and enthusiasm. The ‘Fit India School’ campaign, which started in November last year, is also bringing results. I have been told that till date, more than 65,000 schools have obtained the ‘Fit India School’ certificates through online registration. I urge the rest of the schools in the country to integrate physical activity and sports with education and ensure that they become a ‘fit school’. Also concomitantly, I appeal to all countrymen to promote more physical activity in their daily routine. Remind yourself every day that if we are fit India is fit!
My dear countrymen, a couple of weeks ago, different parts of India were celebrating a variety of festivals. When Punjab was spreading the warmth of enthusiasm by celebrating Lohri, sisters and brothers of Tamil Nadu were celebrating Pongal and birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. Assam was aglow with the fascinating lustre of Bihu. In Gujarat, everywhere you could see kites in the sky and the pomp of Uttaraayan. In such an atmosphere, Delhi witnessed a historic event. A significant agreement was signed in Delhi. With it, the close-to-25-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, a painful chapter, was put to an end forever and ever. Due to the busy routine and festive season, you might not have been able to learn about this historic agreement in detail. So I thought, I should definitely discuss this in Mann ki Baat. This problem pertains to the 90s. In 1997, ethnic tension forced the Bru-Reang tribe to leave Mizoram and take refuge in Tripura. These refugees were kept in temporary camps in Kanchanpur in North Tripura. It’s painful that the Bru-Reang community lost a significant part of their life as refugees. Life in camps meant that they were deprived of all basic amenities. For 23 years – no home, no land, no medical treatment for their families, no education facilities for their kids. Just imagine, how difficult it must have been for them to live 23 long years in trying circumstances in camps! How painful it would have been to spend every moment, every day of their lives hurtling towards an uncertain future! Governments came and went, but there was no cure for their pain. Despite that, their unwavering belief in the Indian Constitution and culture continued. It’s a result of that belief that their life is on the threshold of a new dawn today. As per the agreement, the path to a dignified life has been opened for them. Finally the new decade of 2020, has brought a new ray of hope in the life of the Bru-Reang community. Around 34000 Bru refugees will be rehabilitated in Tripura. Not just that, the government will provide an assistance of close to Rs.600 crores for their rehabilitation and all-round development. Each displaced family will be provided a plot of land. They will be assisted in construction of a house. In addition, rations will be provided to them. They will now be able to benefit from the public welfare schemes of the state and central governments. This agreement is special for many reasons. It symbolises the spirit of cooperative federalism. The Chief Ministers of both Mizoram and Tripura were present during the signing of the agreement. This agreement was made possible only because of the consent and good wishes of people from both the states. I would like to especially express my gratitude to the people and the Chief Ministers of both the states for making this possible. This agreement also epitomises the inherent compassion and sensitivity of Indian culture. Considering everyone as its own and living with the spirit of togetherness is embedded in the ethos of this holy land. I would once again like to congratulate the residents of these states and the Bru-Reang community.
My dear countrymen, Assam, which hosted the grand ‘Khelo India’ games successfully, was witness to another great achievement. You might also have seen it in the news, that a few days ago, 644 militants pertaining to 8 different militant groups, surrendered with their weapons. Those who had strayed towards the path of violence, have expressed their faith in peace and decided to become a partner in the country’s progress and return to the mainstream. Last year, in Tripura as well, more than 80 people left the path of violence and returned to the mainstream. Those who had picked up weapons thinking that violence could solve problems, now firmly believe that the only way to solve any dispute is peace and togetherness. Countrymen will be thrilled to know that insurgency in the North-East has considerably reduced. And the biggest reason for that is that every issue of this region is being honestly and peacefully solved through dialogue. On the solemn occasion of Republic day, I would appeal to anyone in any part of the country, who’s still seeking solutions to problems through violence and weapons, to return to the mainstream. They should have faith in their own capabilities and the capabilities of this country to resolve issues peacefully. We live in the 21st century, that is the era of knowledge, science and democracy. Have you ever heard of a place where life has turned better due to violence? Have you ever heard of a place where peace and goodwill have been impediments in the quest of a good life? Violence never resolves any issue. No problem in the world can be solved by creating another problem. It can only be solved by seeking an optimal solution. Come, let’s together forge a new India, where every issue is resolved on a platform of peace. Solidarity should be the key to resolving every issue. And brotherhood, should foil every separatist attempt to divide us.
My dear countrymen, on the solemn occasion of Republic Day, it gives me great joy to tell you about ‘Gaganyaan’. The country has taken another step towards this goal. In 2022, we will be celebrating 75 years of Independence. And on that occasion, we have to fulfill the pledge to take an Indian into space through the Gaganyaan mission. Gaganyaan mission will be a historic achievement in the field of science and technology for India in the 21st century. It will prove to be a milestone for New India.
Friends, you would be aware that four candidates have been already selected as astronauts for this mission. All of them are pilots of the Indian Air Force. These promising youngsters symbolise India’s skill, talent, ability, courage and dreams. Our four friends are about to go to Russia in a few days for their training. I am confident that this would script another golden chapter in India-Russia friendship and cooperation. They will be trained for over a year. After that, the responsibility of carrying the hopes and aspirations of the nation and soaring into space, will rest on the shoulders of one of them. On the auspicious occasion of Republic Day, I congratulate these four youngsters and the Indian and Russian scientists and engineers associated with this mission.
My dear countrymen, in March last year, a video had become the centre of attention in the media and the social media. The buzz was about how a 107 year old elderly motherly figure broke the protocol to bless the President. This lady was Saalumarada Timmakka, who is famous in Karnataka as ‘Vriksha Maataa’. And the ceremony was the Padma Awards distribution. The country recognised and honoured the extraordinary contribution of Timmakka who comes from an ordinary background. She was being decorated with the Padma Shri award ceremony.
Friends, today India feels proud of such great personalities and feels honoured to honour such down to earth, rooted individuals. Like every year, last evening Padma awards were announced. I urge you to read up about each of the awardees. Discuss their contribution with your family. This year over 46000 nominations were received for the 2020 Padma awards. This number is more than 20 times the number of nominations received in 2014. This statistic reveals the faith of every one of us and tells us that the Padma Awards have now become the Peoples’ awards. The entire process of the Padma Awards is now completed online. Earlier, the decision was taken by a select few. Now, it’s completely people driven. We could even say that there is now a new found faith and respect for these awards in the country. Many among the awardees are those who have risen from the bottom of the pyramid through dint of their hard work. They have overcome limitations of resources and a terrible atmosphere of despair around them and forged ahead. In fact, their strong resolve, spirit of selfless service, inspires us all. Once again, I would like to congratulate all the Padma award recipients. I urge you to read up about them and gather more information. The extraordinary stories of their lives, will inspire the society in the true spirit.
My dear countrymen, once again many many good wishes for the Republic Day celebrations. May this new decade bring new resolve and new achievements for each of you, and for the country. And may India surely achieve the capabilities to fulfill the expectations that the world has from India. With this belief, come, let’s start a new decade. Let’s serve Mother India with a new found resolve. Many many thanks. Namaskar.