Updated: February 7, 2021 8:02:31 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday claimed that a global ‘conspiracy’ was afoot to defame the country’s tea industry and none behind it will be spared. On a visit to Assam, the PM said that the state would soon get colleges for medical and technical education where the mode of learning will be in the local language.
The word ‘conspiracy’ is being interpreted as a veiled reference to a ‘toolkit’ shared by Swedish teen environment activist Greta Thunberg wherein it was said that India’s ‘yoga and chai’ image should be disrupted as part of the pushback against the contentious farm laws brought by the Centre.
The climate activist and pop-star Rihanna were among some global celebrities who tweeted support to the ongoing farmer protest on Delhi’s borders against the farm Bills, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Addressing a public event at Dhekiajuli in Assam’s Sonitpur district after laying the foundation stone for two medical college and hospitals and launching ‘Asom Mala’, an ambitious project for constructing state highways and major district roads, the PM said Assam has had just six medical colleges since independence. “However, over the last five years, Assam has added six more medical colleges,” he said.
With an eye on the Assembly polls this year, the PM said, “With India stepping into its 75th year of independence, I have a dream that every state should have at least one medical college and one technical college where education is imparted in their native languages. Can one not become a good doctor studying in Assamese? With the formation of the new government, one more medical college and one technical college will open in Assam where lessons will be imparted in the local language.”
Claiming there is a ‘conspiracy’ afoot to malign the global image of India’s beverage industry, Modi said no one could appreciate the rich aroma and special taste of Assam tea more than him. He added that he has always believed that the welfare of Assam’s tea garden workers was central to the development of the state.
“The conspiracy to defame the country has reached such levels that they are not even leaving Assam tea alone. The conspirators are saying they will sully the image of Assam tea all over the world. Some documents that have come to light reveal that there are foreign hands that want to damage our connect with the world through the tea industry,” the PM said.
“Will accept such an attack on the country’s image? Will you spare the attackers? Will you stand with those who are praising the attackers?” Modi asked the crowd. He said such conspiracies to defame the country will never succeed as people will demand answers from the conspirators and those who are abetting them.
“Our tea workers will win this fight. Such attacks on our tea industry will be defeated as the strength of the conspirators don’t match the hard work of our tea garden workers,” the PM said.
The tea community, which comprises 17% of Assam’s population, is plagued with exploitation, economic backwardness, poor health conditions and low literacy rates. The BJP has developed a strong voter base in the community since make telling inroads in the erstwhile Congress stronghold.
While presenting the Union budget on February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1,000-crore welfare package for tea workers in Assam and West Bengal. On Saturday, Sitharaman launched the third phase of a DBT scheme for the community at an event in Guwahati, by virtue of which Rs 3,000 crore was transferred to around 7.5 lakh bank accounts.
The PM said that Northeast has left behind its legacy of violence, deprivation, tension, discrimination, favouritism and conflict and is now advancing on the path of development. He blamed earlier governments for alienating people in the Northeast by not focusing on the region’s development.
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