Breaking his silence on the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula inside a hostel room at the University of Hyderabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said that “Mother India had lost a son” and that he “felt the pain”.
The moment he began his address at the sixth convocation of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, two students in the audience shouted “Narendra Modi go back”. Almost immediately, they were escorted out by security personnel.
Modi then continued, “Desh jawaan hai, desh ke sapne jawaan hain, sankalp jawaan hain, desh ke liye mar mitne vaale jawaan hain. Yeh yuva shakti kitni badi dharohar hai hamaare liye (The nation is young, its dreams and resolutions are young, those who die for the nation are young. The power of youth is a big legacy for us).”
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“Lekin ussi samay jab yeh khabar milti hai ki mere desh ke naujawan betey Rohith ko atmhatya karne key liye majboor hona padha… Uske pariwar par kya beeti hogi… Maa Bharti ne apna ek lal khoya (But then we hear that my country’s young son, Rohith, was forced to commit suicide… What would his family be going through… Mother India has lost a son),” he said.
“Kaaran apni jagah par honge, rajniti apni jagah par hogi, lekin sachchai yeh hai ki Maa Bharti ney apna ek lal khoya. Iski peeda mein bhali bhati mehsoos karta hoon (Reasons and politics aside, the truth is that Mother India has lost a son. I can feel the pain),” he added.
Invoking Ambedkar several times, Modi said, “Today, I feel elated as I am among youth… Ambedkar has given a lot to this country. But one thing necessary for this country, and what Babasaheb was committed to, is education. He used to tell everyone this, his mantra was: Shikshit bano, sangathit bano, sangharsh karo (imbibe education, organise and take up the fight).”
“One has to do sangharsh with himself, around himself, and that is possible only when you are educated,” he added.
“At times, being unsuccessful acts like fertiliser for success. One should not feel ashamed in front of friends,” he said.
Modi also highlighted the progress made by the Dalit community, citing the example of Dalit industrialists. He said there are 1.25 lakh bank branches in the country and urged every branch to give money for a start-up to a Dalit or a tribal without guarantee so they can become self-sufficient.