Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said people need not agree on everything “but there must be enough civility… for differing streams to be able to hear each other’s point of view” and that he looked forward to “constructive criticism”.
Addressing the Malayala Manorama New Conclave 2019 in Kochi via a video link from New Delhi, Modi said: “Usually, it is believed that public figures prefer to be on forums whose thought process matches with the person’s own world view. Because there is a lot of comfort in being among such people. Of course, I also cherish being among such surroundings but at the same time, I believe there must be a constant and continuous dialogue between individuals and organisations irrespective of one’s thought process.”
“We need not have to agree on everything but there must be enough civility in public life for differing streams to be able to hear each other’s point of view. Here I am, at a forum where perhaps I do not have many whose thought process is similar to mine but there are enough thinking people whose constructive criticism is something I greatly look forward to,” he said.
“The organisers of this conclave have picked a very interesting theme — New India. Critics will ask you: Are you also speaking the language of Modiji now? I hope you have your answers ready for that. But, since you have picked a theme so close to my heart, let me take this opportunity to share with you what I think is the spirit of New India.”
“I have always said: we may move or not, we may be open to change or not, India is changing fast and this change is happening for the good. At the core of the New India spirit are individual aspirations, collective endeavours and a spirit of ownership for national progress. New India is about participative democracy, a citizen-centric government and pro-active citizenry. New India is the era of responsive people and responsive government.”
For many years, the Prime Minister said, a culture was perpetrated in which aspiration became a bad word. “Doors opened depending on your contacts. Success depended on whether or not you belonged to an Old Boy’s club. Big cities, select big institutions and big families. This is all that mattered. The economic culture of Licence Raj and Permit Raj struck at the heart of individual ambitions. But, today things are changing for the better. We see a spirit of New India in the vibrant start-up eco-system. Thousands of talented youngsters are creating fantastic platforms, show-casing their spirit of enterprise. We also see this spirit on the sports field.”
“New India is not about the voice of a select few. It is about the voice of each and every of the 130 crore Indians. And, for media platforms, it is vital to hear this voice of the people. Today we are seeing that every citizen wants to do something or the other for the nation. Every citizen either wants to contribute or give up something for the nation. Take for example, the most recent step to reduce single use plastic. This is not only Narendra Modi’s idea or effort. The people of India have taken it upon themselves to make India free of single use plastic at a time when we mark Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary. These are extraordinary times and we should not leave any opportunity that enables us to transform our nation.”
“You would be seeing changes that were earlier deemed as totally impossible. In a state like Haryana, it was not thinkable that recruitment for government jobs could be done transparently. But, go to any village of Haryana and people are talking about the transparent manner in which recruitments took place. Now, it is common to see people using Wi-Fi facilities in railway stations. Who would have ever thought this would be a reality. Earlier, platforms were associated with goods and passengers. But now, in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, students go to stations after school or college, use the free Wi-Fi and excel. The system is the same, the people are the same yet, massive changes have taken place on the ground.”
“India is perhaps the only country in the world with so many languages. In a way, it is a force multiplier. But language also been exploited by selfish interests to create artificial walls in the country to divide. Today, I have a humble suggestion. Can we not use the power of language to unite India?”
“Can media play the role of a bridge to bring people speaking different languages closer. This is not as difficult as it seems. We can simply start with publishing one word in 10-12 different languages spoken across the country. In a year, a person can learn over 300 new words in different languages. Once a person learns another Indian language, he will come to know the common threads and truly appreciate the oneness in Indian culture. This can also give rise to groups of people interested to learn different languages. Imagine a group in Haryana learning Malayalam and a group in Karnataka learning Bengali. All big distances were covered only after taking the first step, can we take the first step?” he said.