Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked his countrymen to light lamps for the soldiers guarding the nation’s borders, and to go “vocal for local” in their festival shopping.
“We have to remember our soldiers who are on the borders during these festivities, protecting Bharat Mata. We must light a lamp in the honour of these sons and daughters of Bharat Mata. I want to tell our brave soldiers that you may be at the borders but the whole nation is with you,” the Prime Minister said during his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address.
Tens of thousands of Indian soldiers have been locked in a standoff with Chinese forces in high-altitude terrain in Eastern Ladakh since May.
“When you go shopping during these festivals please remember we have to give priority to local products. …Today when we are going vocal for local, the world is also becoming a fan of our products. Many of our local products have the potential to become global. Today Khadi is regarded as an eco-friendly fabric. It is not only becoming a fashion statement, but is also being manufactured across the world,” he said.
Modi gave the example of Oaxaca in Mexico, where khadi is woven in several villages. “Today the khadi of this place has gained popularity by the name Oaxaca khadi,” he said.
Modi narrated the story of one Mark Brown of Oaxaca, who as a young person had been inspired to visit India after watching a film on Mahatma Gandhi. Brown “visited Bapu’s ashram in India, understood him and learnt about him in depth. …He realised that khadi was not just a cloth; it was a complete way of life,” Modi said.
“Brown was deeply moved by the way khadi was intertwined with the rural economy and self-sufficiency. It was here that Brown resolved to work on khadi on his return to Mexico. He introduced the villagers of Oaxaca in Mexico to khadi and trained them. And now Oaxaca khadi has become a brand.”
The PM reminded people of the services of those who have been keeping day-to-day life going at a difficult time, and urged them to be included in the festivities.
“We must remember the period of lockdown. During this period we have been able to closely understand those friends from our society without whom our life would become very difficult. We have understood the important roles that safai karmchari, domestic helps, local vegetable seller, the milkman and security guards play in our lives. In our hour of difficulty, they stood by us. Now during the festivities, we have to keep them with us. I urge you to include them in your festivities like a family member. You will feel very happy,” Modi said.
Referring to Covid, he said Dussehra is as much a festival of the victory of patience over crises as it is of the victory of good over evil. “All of you are carrying on with immense patience, celebrating the festival with restraint… and hence, in our ongoing fight, our victory too is assured,” Modi said.
“Many more festivals are on the way in the days to come. There is Eid, Sharad Purnima, Valmiki Jayanti, Dhanteras, Diwali, Bhai dooj, Chhath and Guru Nanak Jayanti… During the pandemic, we have to exercise patience, observe restraint.”
The government’s new farm laws would revolutionise the agriculture sector, Modi said. He gave the example of “a company in Maharashtra (that) bought maize from farmers and gave them a bonus over the price. The farmers were pleasantly surprised. The company said that the new laws related agriculture brought in by the government have enabled farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country and they are getting paid well. So the company thought that this extra profit should be shared with farmers. This shows how the farm laws have the potential to revolutionise the sector.”
Modi spoke of Pulwama district in South Kashmir – often in the news for terrorist incidents – which is the largest manufacturer of pencils in the country.
“Pulwama is playing an important role in educating the country. If children across the country are doing their homeworks and filling up their notebooks, it is also because of the hard work of people from Pulwama,” he said. He mentioned one Manzoor Ahmad Alai from Pulwama who he said had risen from making apple boxes to large-scale manufacturing of pencils.
The PM also spoke about a hairdresser from Tamil Nadu, Pon Mariappan, who had converted a part of his salon in Thoothukudi into a library, and of similar inspiring efforts in Madhya Pradesh, Bhavnagar, Chandigarh, and Arunachal Pradesh by ordinary people and organisations.
Modi also spoke about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, and paid tributes to Indira Gandhi.
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