Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s election propaganda eclipsed the closing ceremony of the two-day National Education Summit organised by the Gujarat education department and the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) on Saturday at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.
The official itinerary of the two-day education summit that saw participation by 100 faculty delegates, 2500 students, 170 international students studying in universities in Gujarat, read, ‘Closing Ceremony of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary Celebration’.
A saffron-coloured Gandhi cap that had one of Modi’s prime-ministerial campaign slogan, ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, and a kit containing a Gujarati book on ‘Swami Vivekananda’, (which was to be launched by Modi at the ceremony) along with a small booklet on Vivekananda were distributed to the audience, a majority of whom were students attending the summit.
When asked if Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary celebration was the same as the closing ceremony of the summit, Dev Ranjan Mukherjee, Director, Confederation of Indian Industry (Gujarat), which co-hosted the event said, “The audience included faculty, some industries, institutions who had come for the education summit and the closing ceremony also had the same set of people. However there were also many school children and teachers who had attended the same.”
Keeping his entire speech tethered to Swami Vivekananda, Modi interspersed his speech during the closing ceremony with examples of Gujarat being a model state and having done pioneering work in implementing skill development among youngsters.
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While a line-up of state ministers was on the dais, once Modi came on stage, a video called ‘Vivek Vani’ was played which had the message of sacrifice by spiritual gurus like Baba Ramdev, Ramesh Oza, Morari Bapu, Chidanand Saraswati and Tarun Sagar.
Unable to comprehend Modi’s speech, some foreign students were even overheard asking if this was a BJP event. On being quizzed about the event, Yusif Abdul Rahman, a student of NICM Gandhinagar who hails from Nigeria and was sitting along with two of his friends, also from African countries, said, “The event definitely looks interesting and amazing but unfortunately for us, we wished we knew Gujarati. I do not have much information about Modi, but I know he is a good man.” The trio were part of 170 foreign students who participated in the National Education Summit —- thanks to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR).
“In just a year of our functioning in Gujarat we have got close to 330 students from 43 countries studying in different universities of Gujarat at the UG, PG or PhD level and their tuition is paid by the Government of India. Of this, around 170 students have been a part of the summit for the past two days. Unfortunately language has been a major problem for these foreign students since two days, but they did not face any language issues in the technical sessions of the summit,” said Makrand Shukla, ICCR, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.