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Monday, April 19, 2021

Venkaiah Naidu: Farmers made India self-reliant in agri sector, should feel proud of them

The vice-president had taken a tour of Prarthna Mandir, followed by a tour of Saifee Villa, where MK Gandhi had stayed a night during the Dandi March in 1930.

Written by Sohini Ghosh | Dandi |
Updated: April 7, 2021 8:58:50 am
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel interact with participants at Prarthana Mandir, Dandi, on Tuesday. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Marking the closing ceremony of the commemorative Dandi March at Dandi, Navsari, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said that India is a nation that “cherishes its constitutional values and nurtures its democratic roots” and hailed farmers, adding that in an economic sense, farmers have made India ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) in the agriculture sector.

“We should feel proud of our farmers, our kisan…In spite of so many negatives happening during the corona (virus pandemic), one sector which has withstood (Covid-19) and then provided a record production of foodgrains, that is the agriculture sector. Doctor, nurse, sanitation workers, security personnel are frontline warriors, no doubt, but first among them are the farmers. Farmers are the most frontline warriors, because they’re annadatas (food-providers) and have increased production even in these trying times,” said Naidu. Naidu, was the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the 386-kilometre commemorative Dandi March, which was initiated to launch the celebration of 75 years of Independence – Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The march was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 12 from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.

The vice-president had taken a tour of Prarthna Mandir, followed by a tour of Saifee Villa, where MK Gandhi had stayed a night during the Dandi March in 1930. Naidu visited the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial (NSSM). The tour ended with Naidu signing the visitor’s book at the NSSM. Naidu was gifted a framed replica of a wall painting of the march at the NSSM by MSU, Baroda alumnus Alexander Devasia.

Meanwhile, hailing the initiative of a commemorative Dandi March, Naidu added, “It is more remarkable that the Dandi March we’re symbolically rebuilding today signifies the nation’s ability to stand united… I’m very happy that our Prime Minister when he takes up any issue, he makes it memorable, he makes it historical. Take the case of Statue of Unity, take the case of Ambedkar memorial in Delhi…”

Also present at the event and on the dais were Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy CM Nitin Patel, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel and Navsari MP CR Paatil.

Notably, the last 12 kilometre stretch of the Dandi March saw 45 school students from Gangtok, studying in classes 10 and 12, join in. The Sikkim CM too had joined in on the march. As Lakshman Adhikary, one of the four escorts who were accompanying the students for the march from Gangtok, said, “Over 120 people from Sikkim participated in the march here which included the Sikkim CM, political leaders, bureaucrats and students. We were informed in very short notice (by the central government) so the education department overnight gathered names of students who were athletes from around eight schools in Gangtok. They had to be then tested for Covid-19 and flown in by April 2 and participate in the march by April 3.”

CM Tamang said that the “andolan” of Dandi March of 1930 till date inspires all to fight against injustice, which is an ideal of a democracy but “the way Indian jawans were martyred in Chhattisgarh by Naxalites, while expressing condolences, I also condemn the anti-nationals in strong words,” added Tamang.

‘Make in India’, ‘Vocal for Local’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ found unanimous mention among all dais-speakers, with special praise reserved for the ‘Make in India’ vaccine (Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR).

Rupani, who reminisced on how a public-driven movement in 1930 that involved taking a pinch of salt had caused havoc in the colonial powers’ ranks, added that it is a matter of pride that Azadi Amrit Mahotsav, to mark 75 years of independence, started from Gujarat “at the hands of Gujarat’s son and Prime minister Narendrabhai Modi.”

“On the direction of the Centre, which is that of the PM Narendrabhai, a self-righteous (swabhimaan), a self-belief (aatmavishwas) has developed among citizens… we’ll live for this country and we’ll die for this country… In the Covid-19 pandemic, we are working with the feeling that Corona loses, India wins…”

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