ON HIS birthday on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held out hope for farmers — that a “big change” will happen and they will all “be rich by 2022”. And for the disabled — that the days of “hota hai-chalta hai-dekhenge” are over.
Addressing a public function in Limkheda, in the tribal district of Dahod — his first visit to the area since becoming Prime Minister — Modi said: “I am not used to celebrating my birthday. I do not celebrate it. But it is a blessing to be among Adivasi brothers and sisters who showered me with so much love”.
The gathering comprised mostly tribals from Dahod, Chhota Udepur, Panchmahals and adjoining areas. “It is a matter of pride that the Adivasis of Dahod are pioneering flower cultivation. Very shortly, we will introduce solar pumps for farming. Innovations are constantly being attempted and a big change will come in the agriculture sector in the coming days. By 2022, the farmers of the country will be rich,” said Modi.
Modi, who turned 66 on Saturday, began his day by meeting his mother, Hiraba, for about half-an-hour in Gandhinagar. He also received birthday greetings from Gujarat Governor O P Kohli and Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, who was in Ahmedabad to attend an official function of the Gujarat High Court.
“The freedom struggle in Gujarat began from Dahod district. There is not a single Adivasi area in Hindustan where the British didn’t face trouble… As the country celebrates 70 years of independence, we must pay tribute to these Adivasi fighters,” the PM said in Limkheda.
Recalling his old association with Dahod, Modi said he used roam around on a scooter. He said he used to think that these areas were important, but nobody was doing anything. “In the past, governments used to plan schemes, but only on paper. They were never implemented,” he said. Modi inaugurated development projects worth Rs 4,800 crore, including 10 tribal welfare schemes and irrigation projects.
“When Gujarat was separated from Mumbai, there was talk that Gujarat would not survive without water and business. Today, the entire country is proud of Gujarat for having overcome challenges and successfully walked the path of development. The biggest challenge has been water. The entire eastern stretch of the state has rains but its geographical structure doesn’t allow water to seep into the ground. My Adivasi brothers suffer under the scorching sun of 50 degrees in trying to fetch water. I am glad that projects for irrigation and drinking water have been inaugurated today,” he said.
He emphasised that his government was “for the poor”. “There were banks but no entry for the poor, there were insurance policies but not for the poor. Since our government has taken over at Delhi, we have worked to ensure that all facilities reach the poor. My government is dedicated to the poor,” he said.
In Navsari, Modi attended a function to distribute various kits to over 11,000 disabled people. Speaking on the occasion, Modi expressed his government’s commitment to the cause of the “divyang”. “Has any other PM got an opportunity to attend this kind of a programme… Dozens of PMs have come and gone, but I am the first PM to have got an opportunity to serve the divyang,” he said. “Many times, we see things happening before our eyes, but our response is casual. I believe that a country like India cannot afford such an attitude. The days of hota hai-chalta hai-dekhenge are over, as the world is watching us with expectations.”
Modi said his government was developing a sign language laboratory, which would help standardise sign language learning in the country through a common syllabus.