My dear countrymen, Namaskar. On the one hand, these days, our country is enjoying the feast of rains; on the other, every corner of the country is celebrating festivals and fairs. And this will go on till Diwali. Perhaps our ancestors intricately wove the annual seasonal cycle, the economy cycle and social & life systems in a way that ensured, that under no circumstances, dullness crept into society. We celebrated quite a few festivals in the days gone by. Yesterday, Krishna- Janma Mahotsav, the festival of the birth of Lord Krishna was celebrated throughout India. Can anyone even imagine the greatness of his personality, that, even after thousands of years, the festival comes along with renewed novelty, a new inspiration with fresh energy. And the noble being that he was; although millennia ago, yet it is relevant in providing solutions to problems as well as inspiration even today. Everyone can find solutions to present day problems from Shri Krishna’s life. Despite the tremendous might that he possessed, there were times when he would immerse himself in performing the RAAS; at other times he would be in the midst of cows and cowherds; sometimes indulging in sports & games; often playing the flute. A personality brimming with diverse talents and immense capability, yet devoted to empowering society and people, a persona that embodied pioneering accomplishments, a repository, a savior of people. What qualities should the virtue of friendship possess? Who can forget the incident of Sudama? And on the battlefield? Despite his myriad facets of greatness, assuming the role of a charioteer! Or running errands such as lifting a hillock, or at other times picking up leftover leaf plates! One feels a sense of newness in whatever he does. And that’s why today, as I converse with you, my attention is drawn towards two Mohans. One is the Sudarshan Chakra bearing Mohan and the other is the Charkha bearing Mohan. The Sudarshan Chakra bearing Mohan left the banks of the Yamuna for the sea beach of Gujarat, establishing himself in the city of Dwarika, while the Mohan born on the sea beach reached the banks of the Yamuna, breathing his last in Delhi. Sudarshan Chakra bearing Mohan, thousands of years ago, had amply used his wisdom, his sense of duty, his might, his worldview to avert war, to prevent conflict, a sign of the times then. And spinning-wheel bearing Mohan too chose a similar path, for the sake of Freedom, for preserving human values, for strengthening the basic elements of personality & character- for this he lent a certain hue to the Freedom struggle, a turn, that left the whole world awe struck, which it still remains today. The importance of selfless service, the importance of knowledge, or be it marching ahead smilingly, amidst the trials and tribulations of life, we can learn all these from Lord Krishna’s life’s message. And that is why Shri Krishna is known as Jagatguru – teacher to the world… ‘Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum’.
Today, as we discuss festivities, preparations are under way for a mega festival in India. Not just in India, it is a part of the discourse in the whole world. My dear countrymen, I’m referring to the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. On the 2nd of October, 1869, at the beach of Porbandar, in Kirti Mandir as it is known today,… in that tiny abode, not just a person; an era was born, that charted the course of human history on an altogether new path, with trail blazing accomplishments on the way. One attribute has always been part & parcel of Mahatma Gandhi’s being – and that was his sense of service and the sense of duty towards it. If you view his life in entirety, you will note that he served communities in South Africa that were bearing the brunt of apartheid – in those times, it was, by no means a small feat. He served farmers in Champaran who were being discriminated against. He served millworkers who were being underpaid. He served the poor, the destitute, the weak and the hungry… he took it as life’s prime duty. There were many myths associated with leprosy then. In order to dispel them, he closely served people suffering from leprosy. He presented shining examples through the medium of service in his own life. He set examples of the sense of service for others to learn- not through words, but through deeds. Gandhiji shared an unbreakable bond with truth; he shared a similar unique bond with the spirit of service. Whoever, needed him, and wherever, Gandhiji was present to serve. He emphasized not only on the spirit of service, but also on the inner happiness it led to. Service as a virtue is meaningful when it is performed with a sense of joy-‘Seva Parmo Dharmah’. But simultaneously, deep inner joy, the essence of ‘Swantah Sukhaayah’ is inbuilt in the spirit of service. We can understand this from Bapu’s life. Mahatma Gandhi, of course, became the voice of innumerable Indians, in the larger backdrop of upholding human values & human dignity; in a way, he had become the voice of the world. For Mahatma Gandhi, the individual and society, human beings & humanity was everything. Whether it was the Phoenix Farm or the Tolstoy Farm in Africa, the Sabarmati Ashram or Wardha, he laid special emphasis on community mobilization in his own distinct way. I have been extremely fortunate to have been blessed with the opportunity to visit a number of significant places associated with revered Mahatma Gandhi and pay my homage. I can say that Gandhi emphasized on the spirit of collectiveness through a sense of service. Community service and community mobilization are virtues which we have to imbibe into our real lives. This would be the real way of paying true tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, the Karyanjali, the offering of deeds. Opportunities like these come often & we get associated with them. But should Gandhi 150 just come & go; will it be acceptable to us? No dear countrymen. All of us should introspect, dwell upon it, discuss it, bring it into collective discourse. Joining hands with more people of the society, from all strata, from all age groups; people from villages, cities, men, women, we should ask ourselves. As an individual, what can I add to the effort? What value addition could be there from my side? And being collective acquires its own strength. In all the programmes of Gandhi 150, let there be a sense of collectiveness, let there be a spirit of service. Why don’t we join hands and let the entire neighbourhood move together? If there is a football team, then the entire team. Of course we’ll play football, but along with it, we’ll pick up a deed to perform in conformity with one of Gandhi’s ideals of service. There could be a Ladies’ club! Routine tasks of a modern day Ladies’ club shall be taken up, but besides that, let all members of the Ladies’ club come together & perform an activity of service! We can do a lot. Collect old books, distribute them amongst the poor, spread the glow of knowledge. And I do believe that perhaps 130 crore countrymen are endowed with 130 crore ideas & there could be 130 crore endeavours. There is no limit- whatever that comes to your mind- but only with a genuine wish, a noble intention, within the realms of harmony, and with complete dedication… that too for the sake of enjoying that rare inner bliss, the core of ‘Swaantah Sukhaayah’.
My dear countrymen, a few months ago, I was in Dandi. In our Freedom struggle, the salt satyagrah at Dandi was an important turning point. There I’d inaugurated a state of the art museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. I sincerely urge you to visit at least one place associated with Mahatma Gandhi in the days to come. It could be any site… such as Porbandar, Sabarmati Ashram, Champaran, the Ashram at Wardha or spots in Delhi related to Mahatma Gandhi. When you visit them, do share your photographs on social media so that others may be inspired. And do pen a couple of sentences or couplets to express your feelings. Emotions that emanate from the core of your heart will be more compelling than any great literary composition. And it is possible that in present times, from your viewpoint, the pen-picture of Gandhi sketched by you, may perhaps appear more relevant. In the times to come, many programmes, competitions & exhibitions have been planned. In this context I feel like sharing with you something very interesting. There is a famous art show called the Venice Biennale’, where people from the world over congregate. This time, in the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’, a very interesting exhibition based on memories of Gandhiji was organized. Of special interest were the Haripura Panels. You may remember that in the Haripura Congress Session in Gujarat, Subhash Chandra Bose being elected as President is recorded in history. These Art Panels have a beautiful past. Before the Haripura Session, in 1937-38, Mahatma Gandhi had invited the then Principal of Shantiniketan Kala Bhavan, Nandlal Bose. It was Gandhiji’s wish that the lifestyle of the people of India be depicted through the medium of art and this artwork may be exhibited during the session. This is the same Nandlal Bose whose artwork adorns our Constitution; lends to the Constitution a new, unique identity. The very commitment & reverence of Nandlal Bose have made him, along with the Constitution, immortal. Nandlal Bose toured villages around Haripura, concluding with a few works of art canvas, depicting glimpses of life in rural India. This invaluable artwork was a high point of discourse at Venice. Once again, along with greetings on Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, I express my expectations from every Indian, of one resolve or the other. One should do something for the sake of the country, society or just for someone else. This will be a good, true & genuine Karyanjali to Bapu, a tribute through a good deed.
O glorious children of Mother India, you may remember that for the last few years, we have been running a countrywide campaign ‘Swachchata Hi Sewa’, ‘the quest for cleanliness is service’, around a couple of weeks before the 2nd of October. This time around it will commence on the 11th of September. During this period, all of us will move out of home, donating toil & sweat through ‘Shramdaan’, as a ‘Karyanjali’ to Mahatma Gandhi. Home or the neighbourhood lane, street circles, crossings, or drains, schools and colleges … we have to involve ourselves in a Mega campaign of ensuring cleanliness at public places. This time our emphasis must be on plastic. On 15th August, I had urged you from the Red Fort…the way one hundred & twenty five crore countrymen ran a campaign for cleanliness with utmost enthusiasm and energy, and toiled tirelessly towards freedom from open defecation; in a similar manner, we have to join hands in curbing ‘single use plastic’. This campaign has enthused people from all strata of society. Many of my merchant brothers & sisters have put up a placard at their establishments, boldly mentioning that customers ought to carry shopping bags with them. This will result in monetary savings, as well as one would be able to contribute towards protection of the environment. This year, on the 2nd of October, when we celebrate Bapu’s 150th birth anniversary, we shall not only dedicate to him an India that is Open Defecation Free, but also shall lay the foundation of a new revolution against plastic, by people themselves, throughout the country. I appeal to all strata of society, residents of every village, town & city, take it as a prayer with folded hands; let us celebrate Gandhi Jayanti this year as a mark of our plastic free Mother India. Let us celebrate 2nd October as a special day. Let us celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary as a special ‘Shramdaan’ Festival, where everyone will donate one’s own labour. I urge all municipalities, municipal corporations, District Administration, Gram Panchayats, Government & non Governmental bodies, organizations; in fact each & every citizen to work towards ensuring adequate arrangement for collection & storage of plastic waste. I also appeal to the corporate sector to come out with ways & means proactively for appropriate disposal of all accumulated plastic. It can be recycled; it can be transformed into fuel. This way we can accomplish our task of ensuring safe disposal of plastic waste before this Diwali. All that is needed is a resolve. And for inspiration, there’s no need to look hither- tither; what can be a greater inspiration than Gandhi?
My dear countrymen, our Sanskrit Subhashit, epigrammatic verses are, in a way, gems of wisdom. We can derive from them whatever we need in life. These days I’m not in regular touch with the form… earlier it was frequent. Today I want to touch upon a very important point from a Sanskrit Subhashit. These lines were written centuries ago, but even today, carry great relevance. There is an excellent Subhashit that mentions –
“ पृथिव्यां त्रीणि रत्नानि जलमन्नं सुभाषितम् |
मूढैःपाषाणखण्डेषु रत्नसंज्ञा प्रदीयते” ||
That is, water, grain and subhashit are the three gems found on earth. Imprudent people call stones as gems. In our culture much glory has been ascribed to food. We have even converted the knowledge about food into a science. Balanced and nutritious food is essential for all of us, more so for women and the new-born, since these two categories are the foundation of the future of our society. Under the ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ campaign, nutrition made available with the help of modern scientific methods is being converted into a mass movement all over the country. People are fighting a battle against malnutrition in innovative and interesting ways.
Once, an interesting fact was brought to my notice. The ‘Mutthi Bhar Dhaanya’ initiative has turned into a big movement in Nashik. In this novel scheme, during the harvest period, Anganwadi workers collect a handful of rice grain from the people. This grain is used to make piping hot food for children and women. In this way, the person contributing the handful of grain transmutes into a conscientious civil social worker. In the process, he gets himself dedicated to this cause and becomes a soldier of that movement. All of us have heard about the ‘Ann Praashan Sanskar’, the first solid morsel ritual for toddlers in families all across India. This ritual is performed when the toddler starts feeding on solid food for the first time; solid and not liquid food!
In 2010, Gujarat embarked upon planning to provide kids complimentary food on the occasion of ‘Ann Praashan Sanskar’ so that this initiative spreads awareness among the masses. This is a great initiative that can be adopted anywhere. In many states, people run meal campaigns on certain dates. If the family celebrates a birthday, certain auspicious day or observe an in- memoriam day, then the family members with self-prepared nutritious and delicious food, go to the Anganwadis and also to the schools and these family members themselves serve the children and feed them. They not only share their happiness but in the process receive happiness magnified manifold! There is a wonderful confluence of a sense of service and satisfaction.
My Friends, there are many little things that can be employed in our country’s effective fight against malnutrition. Today, due to lack of awareness, both poor and affluent families are affected by malnutrition. The month of September will be celebrated as ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ across the country. You must get connected with it, get information about this initiative, add some new facet to ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ by contributing to it. If you manage to save a few people from malnutrition, it would mean that we can bring the country out of the circle of malnutrition.
Srishti Ji thank you for your phone call and just like you KK Pandey ji from Sohna, Haryana, and Aishwarya Sharma from Surat and many other people have expressed a desire to know more about the ‘Man vs. Wild’ television episode aired on Discovery Channel. This time when I was thinking about ‘Mann ki Baat’, I was sure that a lot of questions would crop up about this subject and that’s what exactly happened. In the last few weeks wherever I went and met people, ‘Man vs. Wild’ gets a mention! With this one episode, I have not only formed a connect with the youth around the world but I had never thought that I would find a certain place in young hearts in this way. I had never thought that the youth of our country and the world pay attention to diverse things.
I had never thought that there would be an opportunity in my life to touch the hearts of young people around the world. And look what happens? Just last week I went to Bhutan. I have seen that whenever I have had the opportunity to go as Prime Minister, and of course credit also goes to International Yoga Day, the situation now is that wherever I go in the world or interact with someone, people invariably spend close to 5-7 minutes asking questions on yoga.
There must hardly be a major world leader who has not discussed yoga with me and this has been my experience all over the world. But these days I’m experiencing something new. Whoever I meet or wherever there is a chance to talk, the focus is on Wildlife, discussions about the environment, the Tiger, the Asiatic Lion, evolution etc. and I am amazed how interested people are in nature.
The Discovery Channel plans to broadcast this programme in 165 countries in their respective languages. Today, when there is a global churning of thought on environment, Global Warming, and Climate Change, I do hope that in such circumstances, this episode of Discovery Channel will help greatly in familiarizing the world with the message from India, the traditions of India and the empathy for nature in India’s trail of glorious traditions.
It is my firm belief that people want to know the steps taken in the direction of climate justice and clean environment in India. But there is another interesting thing, some people ask me one thing albeit with some hesitation -Modi ji, you were speaking in Hindi and Bear Grylls does not know Hindi, so how did you carry on such a fast conversation between the two of you? Was this episode edited later? How many times did the shooting happen for this episode and how it happened? They ask with great curiosity.
Now, there is no secret in this. Many people have this question in their minds, so I will unravel this secret. Well, in a way it is no secret at all! The reality is that technology was used extensively in my conversation with Bear Grylls. Whenever I spoke immediately there was a simultaneous translation into English or simultaneous interpretation and Bear Grylls had a small cordless instrument in his ear. So I used to speak in Hindi but he heard it in English and because of that the communication became very easy and this is an amazing aspect about technology.
After the broadcast of this show, a large number of people have been discussing about Jim Corbett National Park. You must also visit sites associated with nature and wild life and animals. As I have said before, and I emphasize, that you must visit the north-east in your lifetime. What a glorious abundance of nature exists there. You will be left wonderstruck! Your horizon will expand. On 15th August, I urged all of you from the ramparts of the Red Fort to visit at least 15 places within a span of the next 3 years, 15 places within India and for 100% tourism, visit these 15 sites! Witness and observe. Do take the family and spend some time there.
Our country is full of diversity and this wide range of diversity will also inculcate variations within you as a teacher. Your life will be enriched. Your thinking will expand. And trust me, there are places within India from where you will come back with renewed energy, enthusiasm, zeal and inspiration, and maybe you will feel like returning to certain places again and again; your family too would feel the same.
My dear countrymen, the concern and care for the environment in India seems natural. Last month I had the privilege of releasing the tiger census in the country. Do you know how many tigers there are in India? The tiger population in India is 2967, two thousand nine hundred sixty seven.
A few years ago, we were with great difficulty at a figure half of what we have at present. The Tiger summit took place in 2010 at St. Petersburg, Russia. At this summit, a resolution was taken expressing concern about the dwindling tiger population in the world. It was resolved to double the number of tigers worldwide by 2022. But this is New India, where we accomplish goals in the quickest time possible. We doubled our tiger numbers in 2019 itself. Not only the tiger population in India was doubled, but the number of protected areas and community reserves has also increased.
At the time I was releasing the data on tigers, I also remembered the Asiatic lion of the Gir in Gujarat. I had the charge of the Chief Minister of Gujrat at a period of time when the habitat of lions in the forests of Gir was shrinking. Their number was decreasing. We took several innovative steps, one after the other in the Gir. In 2007, it was decided to deploy female guards. There were improvements in the infrastructure to increase tourism. Whenever we talk about nature and wildlife, we only talk about conservation. But, we now have to move beyond conservation and think about compassion. Our scriptures have provided great guidance with respect to this subject. Our scriptures have said centuries ago: –
निर्वनो बध्यते व्याघ्रो, निर्व्याघ्रं छिद्यते वनम |
तस्माद् व्याघ्रो वनं रक्षेत्, वनं व्याघ्रं न पालयेत् ||
That is, if there are no forests, tigers are forced to venture into the human habitat and are killed, and if there are no tigers in the forest, then man cuts the forest and destroys it, so in fact the tiger protects the forest and not that the forest protects the tiger – our forefathers explained this great truth in a befitting manner. Therefore, we need to not only conserve our forests, flora and fauna, but also create an environment wherein they can flourish properly.
My dear countrymen, who can forget the historic speech of Swami Vivekananda delivered on September 11, 1893. This young monk of India, who shook the conscience of the human race of the entire world, imparted onto this world a glorious identity of India. The enslaved India which was gazed at by the world in a much distorted manner was forced to change its way of looking at India due to the words of a great man like Swami Vivekananda on September 11, 1893. Come, let us look anew at India which Swami Vivekananda had seen and let us put in practice the inherent strength of India realized by Swami Vivekananda. We possess everything within us, let us proceed with confidence.
My dear countrymen, all of you will remember that the 29th of August is celebrated as ‘National Sports Day’. On this occasion, we are going to launch the ‘Fit India Movement’ across the country. We have to keep ourselves fit and the nation has to be made fit. It will be a very interesting campaign for everyone – children, the elderly, the young and women and it will be your own movement. But today I am not going to reveal its specifics; you must wait for 29thAugust! I will tell you about ‘Fit India Movement’ in detail on 29thAugust and I am not going to forget connecting you with the movement because I want to see you fit! I want to make you aware about fitness and for a fit India, we should unite to set some goals for the country.
My dear countrymen, I will be waiting for your participation on 29th August in ‘Fit India Movement’, in ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ during the month of September and especially in the ‘Swachhata Abhiyan’ beginning from the 11th of September to the 2nd of October. And 2nd October as a day has been totally dedicated to riddance from plastic. All of us with all our might must try to get rid of plastics from our home and everywhere outside our houses. And I know that all these campaigns will make a big splash on social media. Come, let us proceed with a new zeal, new resolve and renewed strength.
My dear countrymen, this is all that this episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ has in store for you today. I shall be meeting you later. I will wait for your say and your suggestions. Come, let us all march together to make the India which was dreamt of by our freedom fighters and realize Gandhi’s dreams – ‘Swantah: Sukhayah’. Let us proceed, enjoying our inner bliss, expressing our spirit of service.