Urging the Muslim community to become “job-creators” instead of “job-seekers”, Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Friday asked members of the minority community to “stand on their own feet” and not “seek help” for a living.
Modi was addressing a gathering, primarily comprising Muslim businessmen from Gujarat and the Middle East countries, during the inaugural function of a three-day conclave on Business Harmony, organised by socio-economic organisation Ummat, which helps over 1,200 Muslim businessmen network with each other in the state “Dear friends, we have to make our own efforts. It is not good for any community to extend their arms and seek help for a living,” Modi said.
“We will have to stand on our own feet. Our kids have to become job-creators and not job-seekers,” Modi said on the opening day of the event that was meant to bring together businessmen belonging to both the majority and minority communities and bridge the “trust” gap between them.
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“Since my childhood, I have felt that the poorest of the poor kid born in a Muslim home is talented. For instance, they make or repair locks…They have the skill, but no opportunity. We want to give them that opportunity,” Modi told the 150-strong gathering, mostly comprising participants and stall-attendants at the conclave which is being supported by the Gujarat government.
The CM also floated an idea “to map the top 10-12 talents” inherent in the youths from the Muslim community. “Such talented people from the Muslim community should be brought together. They will not only stand on their own feet, but also release a fresh lease of productivity to Gujarat,” Modi said, while suggesting ways and means to bring the Muslim youth into the “mainstream”.
Modi also cited several examples of Muslims in Gujarat, who have succeeded in making a name for themselves. Apart from the traditional kite-making and textile printing sectors that employ a large number of Muslim artisans, he narrated the efforts of an old gentleman from Dharampur in Valsad district who used to make musical instruments, and a young farmer Ismail Sheru from Banaskantha who currently holds the record of producing the highest number of potatoes on a hectare of land.
“In the course of the past 10 years in Gujarat, we have literally lived with the four ‘mantras; — security, equality, prosperity and equity,” he said, while stating that efforts should be made to enhance the skills of Muslim women entrepreneurs and provide them with an equal opportunity and be “part of progress” in the state.
He also spoke of how the image of Gujarat has changed from being a “traders’ state” to being a “manufacturing hub”. He also mentioned how Kutch district, having the highest Muslim population in the state, has 1,732 industrial units owned by Muslims who directly contribute to the growth of the state.
Stating that every section of the society has to be taken along the path of progress, Modi said, “ BJP needs power. We need the power to empower people,” he said.
Some of the participants at the business conclave appreciated the Modi government’s efforts to organise such an event.
“The Chief Minister spoke about a lot of micro-issues and the various opportunities. He has given a number of tips. It is now for the community to make a difference,” said Mustafa Saasa, a Gujarat-born businessmen who is currently based in UAE.
“Muslims should not live in history. We should live in the present and look forward towards the future,” Saasa said when asked about the communal history of the state.
Similar views were voiced by Zafar Sareshwala, a prominent Muslim businessmen from Gujarat, when he said, “Being victims in Gujarat is nothing new for Muslims. But for the past 10 years, there has not been a single incident in the state. There is definitely a softness growing among Muslims towards Modi.”
Federico Tauber, president of Tameer Group from UAE, said, “The chief minister has encouraged us to invest in Gujarat. We see a lot of potential in the state.”