In his first Mann ki Baat after being re-elected, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday stressed on the importance of conservation of water to meet the ongoing crisis across the country, comparing water to “God’s prasad”.
“We together should resolve to save every drop of water,” Modi said in his monthly radio address. “I believe, like other problems on hand, we can solve this predicament with the participation of the people, janbhagidari, and their power, janshakti… We are bound to find a solution through the strength, cooperation and resolution of 130 crore citizens.”
Pointing out that “only 8% of the water received from rains in the entire year is harvested in our country”, he talked about the Jal Shakti Ministry created recently to “allow faster decision-making on all subjects related to water”, after merging the Water Resources and Drinking Water ministries. The Modi government has also promised to provide piped water to all households across the nation in the next five years, as part of a “Nal se Jal” initiative.
Many people had messaged him about the “prevailing water problem”, Modi said, adding that he had recently written to all sarpanchs and gram pradhans asking them to “discuss the resolution of this problem with villagers”. In response, Modi said, on June 22, “crores of people contributed free labour across thousands of panchayats” and “people in village after village resolved to accumulate every single drop of rainwater”. It seems villagers “have become involved in competition for raising a water temple in their respective villages”, he said.
Modi asked people to make water conservation a “mass movement” like the cleanliness drive, urging luminaries to take up the issue, and people to share traditional methods of water conservation as well as information on those working in the field to create “an intensive database”. “We must wake up society, unite society and join society in this endeavour.”
Modi also spoke about the importance of democracy, while raising the issue of Emergency imposed on June 25, 1975. Resistance against it was not limited to the political arena or “the confines of prison cells”, he said, adding that there was “an outrage in the conscience of one and all”. “The collective torment over the loss of democracy was evident.”
He said it was easy to forget the “the joys of democratic rights, unless they are snatched away”, and that the Emergency reinforced that. He said this showed that for Indians, democracy was embedded in their culture and heritage “beyond laws and rules”. In the elections after Emergency was lifted, the PM said, people had voted “without bothering about other rights and requirements, just for the sake of saving democracy”. “We must keep reminding ourselves that our democracy is gloriously great, it flows in our veins.”
Talking about the recent Lok Sabha elections, he said it was the first time that “women enthusiastically voted, as much as men did”. “Another encouraging fact is that today there are a record 78 women MPs.”
Thanking people for re-electing him, Modi talked about his trip to Kedarnath after polling had concluded and the results were not yet out. He said he did not want to “change the course of conversation” by talking about it at length, but said people had the right to ask him about it. “Most people have derived political conclusions out of that. For me, it was an opportunity to meet myself. In a way, I undertook the journey to meet my inner self. I shall not reveal other things today, but I certainly want to tell you that perhaps in that solitary cave, I got an opportunity to fill the vacuum created by the long pause in Mann Ki Baat (due to the model code of conduct for elections).”
He added that his confidence before the elections “was not Modi’s”, but a factor of “the trust of your foundation”.
Moving on to the importance of reading, especially in the digital world, Modi mentioned several stories of author Premchand like Poos Ki Raat, Nashaa and Eidgah. He said that though Premchand’s stories were written about a century ago, they remain relevant even today.