It has been quite a busy year for Narendra Modi in 2015 with the prime minister crisscrossing the globe to keep up with foreign appointments and election campaign appearances. PM Modi’s energy levels have surprised world and Opposition leaders alike. Recently, PM Modi wrapped up his tour of Russia by stopping for breakfast in Kabul, tea in Lahore all before arriving in Delhi for Dinner.
It wasn’t just Modi the prime minister who left his counterparts in awe, his speeches struck a chord with world audiences too.
From his second address in the United Nations, where he highlighted initiatives such as ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, to his remarkable speech at the British Parliament, a first delivered by any Indian leader, PM Modi has made headlines abroad and within the country. With his speeches in the UAE to SAP centre, San Jose he personally connected with the Indian diaspora like no other former prime minister.
Here in India, his address on the Independence Day to International Yoga day Day celebrations were widely followed by international and national media. However, his speeches during the Delhi and Bihar poll campaigns did not create the impact BJP was hoping for as the party suffered heavy losses.
As the year comes to an end, we take a look at his best speeches made in 2015.
At British Parliament:
Narendra Modi was the first ever Indian leader to speak at the British Parliament. His speech, peppered with humour and historical references, received a standing ovation at the UK Parliament’s Royal Gallery.
Modi, who read a prepared text, also flagged the challenges of radicalisation and terrorism, and pushed for the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN.
In his address before the British lawmakers, Modi said, “There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry. And, our strongest debates are whether the Lord’s pitch swings unfairly or the wicket at Eden Gardens cracks too early. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India.”
At United Nations General Assembly:
At UNGA, PM Modi pitched for climate justice and war on poverty. Reiterating the message of “common but differentiated responsibilities” on climate action with the slogan of “climate justice”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the UN Sustainable Development Summit that India was already on the way to implementing several of the Agenda 2030 goals adopted on Friday.
In a 13-minute speech, the Prime Minister invoked Deendayal Upadhyaya in his centenary year to draw similarities between the BJP icon’s concept of “antyodaya” — serving the last man — and the 2030 goals, and peppered his speeches with several Sanskrit phrases, including “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the world is one family).
At Dubai cricket stadium, UAE:
The visit to the United Arab Emirates, his maiden visit to an Islamic country — and the first by an Indian PM in 34 years to the UAE, a country in which over 2 million Indians live and work, and send home an estimated $ 12 billion every year was certainly the most important foreign trip, undertook by him in 2015.
Prime Minister’s outreach to the blue-collared skilled workers in the UAE – where they constitute almost 2.6 million – is a politically astute move. He visited the Indian workers’ camp in Abu Dhabi and addressed the community in Dubai was meant to invoke the pride in India, and the UAE government allotted a land for a temple – as a gesture to reach out to the new Modi government.
Modi’s speech covered a range of topics from terrorism, the “new-look India”, the warm welcome that he received in the UAE and initiatives launched by his government for Indian expatriates.
Although he spoke about his initiatives to improve relations with neighbours – help for Nepal after the earthquake, the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, his visit to Sri Lanka and assistance for Maldives over water crisis –the highlight of the 70-minute-long speech was the reference to terror and the indirect message to Pakistan.
At Facebook Townhall, Facebook Headquarters:
PM Modi was the first head of government to visit the Facebook campus in Menlo Park. He addressed a Townhall Q&A event at Facebook’s new headquarters with company CEO Mark Zuckerberg. From information highways to digital governance, PM Modi answered questions on a range of topics.
The Townhall was a unique occasion for everyone at the Facebook headquarters, with tightened security and notifications to ‘wear formals’. The event shall not be remembered for Modi’s another enigmatic speech, but for his emotional outburst.
The prime minister struggled to control his emotions after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked him about this mother. “My mother is not educated but keeps in touch with world events through news on TV,” he said, before pausing to wipe tears while speaking of her washing utensils at other homes years ago to provide for the family.
At Parivartan Rally in Muzaffarpur, Bihar:
Kickstarting the Bihar poll campaign in Muzaffarpur, PM Modi launched a scathing attack at the state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Seeking to play the Dalit card, he said Nitish had practised “political untouchability” not only against him but also a “Mahadalit” — former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. He said even George Fernandes and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi were not treated well by him. “There seems to be some problem in his DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy, you give respect even to your political rivals,” said Modi.
The ripple effect caused by the DNA remark was felt throughout the Bihar Assembly elections, and even resulted in a major embarrassment for the party as it lost in the state by a huge margin.
At Lok Sabha, Winter Session:
In an attempt to set the tone for Parliament’s winter session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said debate, discussion and dialogue are the soul of the Parliament. Speaking outside Parliament before the session began, Modi said: “Our constitution is a ray of hope: H for harmony, O for Opportunity, P for people’s participation and E for equality.”
Later, during the next few days in the Winter Session, Modi delivered quite a few speeches to strengthen the parliamentary form of government and reached out to the Opposition. The prime minister said ‘India first’ is the only religion of his government and Constitution is the only holy book while asserting his commitment to work for the welfare of people of all sections and religions.
He highlighted, “The spirit of this (Constitution)debate is not “you” or “I”, it is “We”.
During the speech, Modi invoked Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar and Nehru repeatedly and stressed that the “Idea of India” is reflected in the tenets of “ahimsa parmo dharma (non-violence is the supreme duty)”, “sarv dharma sambhav (equal respect to all religions)” and “vasudeva kutumbakam (the world is a family)”.
At Red Fort, Independence Day:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his second Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort, highlighted his 15-month-old government’s achievements in a speech that lasted for almost two hours.
Most of his one and a half hour speech was devoted to giving a report card of his government’s 15-month rule, specially about the programmes he had announced last year — Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachhta Abhiyaan, creation of toilets in schools, low-cost insurance schemes, crackdown on corruption and black money.
Like Make in India, and Digital India earlier, Modi came up with two new slogans during his speech — Start-up India and Stand-up India. These are aimed at extending support to people to start new ventures and businesses, especially those belonging to the weaker sections. It was in this context that he urged banks to provide loans to tribals and Dalits.
The loudest applause however, came when one or two times he took a swipe at previous governments and how they used to be indecisive, and when he spoke about the need to abolish interviews for small jobs.
At Paris Climate Change Summit:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech on making COP21 a success by promising to make India a champion in the fight against climate change.
In his address, Modi said, “The prosperous still have a strong carbon footprint. And, the world’s billions at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow. So, the choices are not easy. But, we have awareness and technology. We need now national will and a genuine global partnership. Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom are without access to energy.”
Modi along with French President Francois Hollande had launched the International Solar Alliance and pledged India’s assistance of USD 30 million for the initiative that brings together developed and developing countries.
At Hannover Industrial Fair, Germany:
In Germany, Modi and Merkel spoke in favour of a free-trade agreement between the European Union and India. Speaking at the industrial fair, PM Modi stressed on the importance of India expanding as a manufacturing hub. It remains as one of the highlights of PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The ‘lion’, the symbol of ‘Make in India’ was seen all over Hannover starting from the airport, the Indian pavilion was enthused and people greeted Prime Minister with the chant of ‘Modi-Modi’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. “They have been most generous in allowing us to unleash our lions in this city. The lions are a symbol of a new India. They roar; but with a message of friendship and promise of partnership, from .25 billion people of India,” Modi said in his address.
“Our presence as a partner country says something else also. We will naturally pursue our goals on the strength of our own resources, skills and enterprise. But, we know that we will be more successful when we do this in partnership with the world. For people in India, Germany is a valued partner; and, an enduring symbol of technology and innovation, quality and productivity, ” Modi said.
At SAP Centre, San Jose:
Addressing the Indian diaspora at the SAP Centre, PM Modi urged the world to stop differentiating between “good terrorism and bad terrorism”. “The UN is celebrating its 70th anniversary but till now it has not been able to arrive at a definition for terrorism. If defining it takes so much time, how many years will it take to to tackle terrorism,” he said.
Addressing thousands of Indian-Americans at the SAP Centre in San Jose, Modi made a veiled attack at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.