Recalling the “dark night” of the imposition of Emergency on its 42nd anniversary Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and “one needs to be constantly alert about our democracy”. In his Mann Ki Baat radio talk, the Prime Minister said “present-day students of journalism and the champions of democracy have been endeavouring towards raising awareness about that dark period, by constant reminders, and should continue to do so”.
He referred to one Prakash Tripathi who had written to him about Emergency and calling it “a dark period in the history of democracy”. Modi said: “Not only is democracy a system, but also a ‘sanskar’ — a part of our ethos. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. One needs to be constantly alert about our democracy, that is why we must also keep remembering the events that inflicted harm upon our democracy; and at the same time move ahead, carrying forward the virtues of democracy.”
“1975, 25th June, was a dark night that no devotee of democracy can ever forget. No Indian can ever forget. The country had virtually become a prison. The voice of the Opposition had been smothered. Several prominent leaders, including Jai Prakash Narayan, had been jailed. The judicial system too could not escape the sinister shadows of the Emergency. The press was completely muffled.”
Modi quoted lines from a poem of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was among those jailed during the Emergency. “After one year of Emergency, Atalji wrote a poem in which he describes the state of mind during those turbulent times.” In the poem, Vajpayee refers to “the scorching summer… the sobbing monsoon, an emptiness pervading within… the world confined behind bars… the soul like a restless bird, the freedom song resonates”.
Modi said: “The believers of democracy fought a prolonged war, and the great nation that India is, where the spirit of democracy pervades the very being of all its people, the strength of that spirit was demonstrated when the opportunity of elections came. We have to further fortify that legacy.”
The Prime Minister greeted the people on the occasion of Rath Yatra and Eid.
“The underprivileged of the country are deeply connected to Lord Jagannath. Those who have studied the life and works of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar would have observed that he had wholeheartedly praised the Lord Jagannath temple and its traditions since social justice and social equality were inherent to these. Lord Jagannath is the god of the poor. But few would know that in English, there is a word, ‘juggernaut’ which means, a magnificent chariot, that is unstoppable. In the dictionary, the etymology of the word ‘juggernaut’ traces its roots to the chariot of Lord Jagannath. And therefore, we can observe that the world has in its own way accepted the significance of the car festival of Lord Jagannath, the Rath Yatra.”
“India’s diversity is its unique characteristic, and India’s diversity is also its strength. The holy month of Ramzan is observed all across, in prayer with piety. And now the festival of Eid is here. On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, my heartiest greetings to one and all. Ramzan is a month of charity, and sharing joy. The more you share joy, the more it multiplies. Let us come together and take inspiration from these holy festivals and share their joyous treasures, and take the nation forward.”
The speech made no mention of the the killing of a Muslim boy, Junaid, who was stabbed to death on board a Mathura-bound train, not very far from Delhi, after being subjected to communal taunts, including being called “beef-eaters”.
Last August, the Prime Minister, while addressing a town hall meeting to mark the second anniversary of his government’s MyGov initiative, spoke out against violence by cow vigilantes, saying most of them were “anti-social” elements running “shops” in the name of cow protection.
In the Mann Ki Baat programme, Modi praised the Muslim-majority village of Mubarakpur in Uttar Pradesh for deciding to construct toilets there with their own funds and returning Rs 17 lakh given by the government as financial assistance.
“In this holy month of Ramzan, I came across a very inspiring incident at Mubarakpur village of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. About three and a half thousand families of our Muslim brethren reside in that little village and in a way, form a majority of its population. During this Ramzan, the villagers decided to get together and construct toilets. Now, to construct these household toilets, the government gives financial assistance, under which, they were provided a sum of 17 lakh rupees. You will be pleasantly surprised and happy to know that, during this holy month of Ramzan, these Muslim brothers and sisters, returned this money to the government, saying they would construct these toilets with their own labour and their own money; and that this sum of 17 lakh rupees be used for providing other facilities in the village.”
“I felicitate the residents of Mubarakpur for transforming the pious occasion of Ramzan into an opportunity for the welfare of society on. Each and everything about them is inspiring. And the most important of it all is that they have freed Mubarakpur of the scourge of open defecation. We know that in our country there are three states that have already been declared Open Defecation Free states, that is, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Uttarakhand and Haryana have also been declared ODF this week. I express my gratitude to the administration, government and especially the people of these five states, for achieving this objective,” he said.