My dear countrymen, Namaskar. The moment to bid adieu to 2019 is round the corner knocking at our doors! In a matter of just 3 days, not only will 2019 wave good bye to us; we shall usher our selves into a new year and a new decade; the third decade of the 21st century! I extend my heartiest greetings to all countrymen on the arrival of year 2020. One thing is certain about the decade to come. And that is, it will witness the active contribution of those who were born in the 21st century, in the country’s progress; these are people who are growing up, understanding the significant issues pertaining to this century. The young people such as these, are known by myriad terms. For some they are millennials; others call them generation Z or Gen Zee too; and broadly speaking, one thing that has captured the collective psyche is that this is the ‘Social Media Generation’. All of us experience that this generation is extremely talented. It thrives on the dream to do something new, something different. It has its own set of opinions. And the best part is; especially in the case of India; according to me, they appreciate the system. Not just that, they prefer to follow the system. And in the event of the system not responding properly, they get restless and even courageously question the system itself! I consider this attribute as a virtue. One can even say with certitude here, that the country’s youth detests anarchy of any sort. They despise any element of lack of governance and instability; abhorring any shades of nepotism, casteism, favouritism or gender discrimination. There are times when we see them at an airport or a cinema theatre; if someone tries to break a queue, the first to react vociferously are these young people. And we have noticed; if such an incident takes place, the youth present around make a video of it on their mobile phones, which goes viral within no time! And the culprit instantly realizes the consequence. Thus, our new generation is an embodiment, a reflection of a new system, a new order, a new age, a new thought. Today, India eagerly awaits this generation expectantly. These are the very people who have to elevate the country to greater heights. Swami Vivekanand ji had observed, “My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation; out of them will come my workers”. Referring to the youth, he had remarked, “The value of youth can neither be ascertained, nor described!” Youth is the most valuable phase, of one’s life. Your life & future entirely depends on the way your utilized your youth. According to Vivekanand ji, young people are the one’s full of energy and dynamism, possessing the power to usher in change. I am of the firm belief that for India, this decade will be, not only about development & progress of the youth; it will also prove to be about the country’s progress, harnessing their collective might. This generation will play a major role in modernizing India; I feel it beyond any doubt. On the birth anniversary of Vivekanand on the 12th of January, on the occasion of National Youth Day, every young person should give a thought to this responsibility, taking on resolve or the other for this decade.
My dear countrymen, many of you must be aware of the rock in Kanyakumari where Swami Vivekanand ji had entered into the meditative state, the spiritual ‘Antardhyan’. That very rock Memorial is completing 50 years of existence. For the last five decades, it has earned a place of pride for India. Kanyakumari exudes a special attraction, nationally as well as for the world. For anyone seeking to experience spiritual consciousness filled with national pride, this has become a centre of pilgrimage, a temple of faith. Swamiji’s Memorial has inspiringly instilled a sense of national pride amongst people, irrespective of their sect, age or class. It has shown the way to realize & follow the mantra, ‘In service of the poorest of the poor’. Whoever visits the place, naturally experiences a surge of inner energy, a sense of positivity; the resolve to contribute something to the country.
Recently, in connection with the 50 years, our Honourable President paid a visit to the Rock Memorial. And it’s a matter of joy that our Vice President too visited the Desert Festival held in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat for the inauguration. When our Hon’ble President & Vice President are visiting such important tourist destinations in India, it is bound to inspire our countrymen. I urge you too to travel & visit these places.
My dear countrymen, all of us study in myriad colleges, universities & schools. But after completing studies, Alumni Meets are joyous occasions. At any Alumni Meet, members come together, sharing youthful memories, going back 10, 20 or even 25 years. At times, such meets turn out to be a special attraction that gets noticed. And it is also important for it to catch the attention of our countrymen. Actually, an alumni meet is an occasion for old friends to come together, refresh memories; these are happy moments indeed. Alongside, if this union comprises a shared purpose, a resolve, an emotional connect, it lends additional hues to the event. You must have seen alumni groups at times, contributing something or the other to their schools. Some arrange for systems for computerization, some organize a better library, others go for revamping drinking water facilities or new rooms. Some have gone to the extent of facilitating sports complexes. One thing or the other! It gives them inner joy to do something for the place that shaped their life…. everyone feels so and should feel so.And people do come forward for the same. But today, I wish to present before you a special occasion. Just recently, I came across on the media, a story on the Bhairavganj Health Centre in the West Champaran district of Bihar. It was such a nice feeling that I could not stop myself from sharing it with you. At this Bhairavganj Health Centre, thousands of people from neighbouring villages converged for a free health check up. Of course, you will not be surprised at that! You may say, “So what? What is new in that? People must have thronged there, as usual!” Not at all. A lot about it was new. This was not a government programme, nor was it a government initiative. This was a step taken as part of an Alumni Meet organized by former students of the local K.R. High School. And they named it ‘Sankalp 95’. ‘Sankalp 95’ means, the resolve undertaken by the 1995 Batch of that High School. Actually, students of this batch held an Alumni Meet and thought of doing something different. Under this, the former students resolved to do something for society and decided to shoulder responsibility in the area of Public Health Awareness. Under the aegis of ‘Sankalp Ninety Five’, Government Medical College of Bettiah and many hospitals also joined in this campaign. And after that, an entire movement centred on public health got started. Be it free medical tests, distribution of free medicines, or, just spreading awareness, ‘Sankalp Ninety Five’ has become a shining beacon for everyone. We often say that when every citizen of the country takes a step ahead, our nation moves 130 crore steps forward! And when such things are witnessed first-hand in the society, then everyone gets elated, derives satisfaction and is infused with motivation to do something in life! On one hand, in Bettiah in Bihar, a group of alumni took up the task of health care delivery, on the other, some women of Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh have inspired the entire region with their tenacity.
These women have proved that if a resolution is taken with the true spirit of solidarity, nothing can stop conditions changing for the better. Till some time ago, these women of Phulpur were hampered by financial constraints and poverty, but, they had the resolve to do something for their families and society. These women aligned withthe women self-help group of Kadipur, joined in learning the skill of making slippers, and thus not only managed to pluck the thorn of helplessness from their feet, but by becoming self-reliant, also became the support of their families. With the help of ‘Gramin Ajivika Mission,’a slipper manufacturing plant has also been established here, where slippers are being made with the help of modern machines.
I especially congratulate the local police and their families, who encouraged these women entrepreneurs by purchasing slippers for themselves and their families made by these women. Today, due to the resolve of these women, not only the financial condition of their families have been fortified; their standard of living has also improved. Whenever I hear about the police personnel of Phulpur or their families, you will also recollect, that I had urged from the ramparts of Red Fort on the 15th of August, requesting the countrymen to buy local produce preferably. Today once again I suggest, can we promote locally made products? Can we prioritize them in our shopping? Can we link local products with our status and pride? Can we become a medium to bring prosperity to our fellow countrymen with this spirit?
Friends, Mahatma Gandhi viewed this spirit of Swadeshi as a lamp illuminating the lives of millions as well as bringing prosperity in the lives of the poorest of the poor. A hundred years ago, Gandhiji started a huge public movement to promote Indian products as one of its objectives. This was the path shown by Gandhi ji towards self reliance. The India that we breathe freely in was liberated by millions of worthy sons and daughters who underwent numerous tortures and hardships; many even sacrificing their lives. We attained freedom owing to sacrifice and penance of innumerable people; a freedom that we are fully enjoying. We hardly know the names of those countless beings who made the supreme sacrifice for the country, who went through untold hardships for Her. Of some we know; others will always stay anonymous. They all made sacrifices, firmly carrying that dream in their hearts….that of a free India…for the sake of a prosperous, flourishing and free India.
My dear countrymen, can we pledge, that by 2022, when we achieve 75 years of independence we insist and remain steadfast at least, for about two-three years on buying local products? Products made in India, made by the hands of our citizens, carrying the fragrance of the sweat of our countrymen, can’t we resolve to buy such things? I do not advocate this for a long time, just till 2022, till the completion of 75 years of independence. And this work should not be carried out by government, instead of this young people should step forward at various places, form small organizations, motivate people, explain and decide –“Come, we will buy only local, products, emphasize on local products, carrying the fragrance of the sweat of our countrymen – That will be the exultant moment of my free India; let these be the dreams with which we proceed!
My dear countrymen, it is very important for all of us, that the citizens of our country become self-reliant and live their lives with dignity. I would like to discuss one such initiative that has caught my attention and that is the ‘Himayat Programme’of Jammu- Kashmir and Ladakh. The ‘Himayat Programme’ is actually associated with skill development and employment. In this programme, teenagers and youth from 15 to 35 years of age, those denizens of Jammu and Kashmir whose studies, for some reason, could not be completed, who had to leave school and college midstream are associated.
My dear countrymen, it would gladden you that under the aegis of this programme, during the last two years, eighteen thousand youths, have been trained in seventy seven different trades. Out of these, around five thousand people are working somewhere or the other, and many have moved towards self-employment. The success stories of lives which have changed under the aegis of the ‘Himayat Programme’, truly touch the heart!
Parveen Fatima has become a Supervisor-cum-Coordinator following a promotion in a Garment Unit in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu. Until a year ago, she was living in a small village in Kargil. At present, her life has undergone a major change, she has become confident – she has become self-reliant and has also brought an opportunity for prosperity for her entire family! Like Parveen Fatima, the ‘HimayatProgramme’ has changed the fate of other daughters and residents of Leh-Ladakh region and all of them are working in the same firm in Tamil Nadu today. Similarly, the ‘Himayat Programme’ came as a boon for Fiaz Ahmad of Doda district. Fiaz passed the 12thclass examination in 2012, but due to an illness, he could not continue his studies. Fiaz, battled a heart disease for two years. Meanwhile, one of his brothers and a sister also died. In a way, his family was overwhelmed by trials and tribulations! Eventually, he was helped by the ‘Himayat Programme’. He received training in ITES i.e. ‘Information Technology Enabled Services’ uder the aegis of the ‘Himayat Programme’ and today he is employed in Punjab.
Fiyaz Ahmed’s graduate studies, which he continued simultaneously with his training under the ‘Himayat Programme’, is also nearing completion. Recently, he was invited to share his experience at a ‘Himayat Programme’ Fiyaz while narrating his story, had tears welling in his eyes. Similarly, Rakib-ul-Rahman of Anantnag could not complete his studies due to financial constraints. One day, Rakib came to know about the ‘Himayat Programme’ through a mobilisation camp in his block. Rakib immediately enrolled himself in the Retail Team Leader course. After completing his training today he is working in a corporate house. There are many examples of talented youth who have become symbols of change in Jammu and Kashmir, benefiting from ‘Himayat Mission’. The ‘HimayatProgramme’is a perfect example of a great synergy between the government, training partners, job providing companies and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
This program has given a new found confidence to the youth in Jammu and Kashmir, and shown them a way to forge ahead.
My dear countrymen, on the 26th of this month, we witnessed the last solar eclipse of this decade. Possibly, this solar eclipse prompted Ripun to write a very interesting comment on the MyGov portal. He writes, “Hello sir. My name is Ripun…I belong to the North-East, and am currently working in south India. I would like to share something with you. I remember that due to the clear skies in our region, we used to gaze at the stars in the sky for hours together. I used to enjoy star-gazing. Now I am a professional, and because of my daily routine, I am unable to find time for such activities…can you discuss this topic in your show. Particularly, on how to popularise astronomy among the youth.
My dear countrymen, I receive a lot of suggestions, but it would be safe to say that this suggestion is unique. I have often spoken about many aspects of science. Especially the insistence of the youth has given me an opportunity to talk about science. But this topic has never been broached, and since the solar eclipse occurred on the 26th of this month, possibly you might also be interested in this topic. Like my countrymen, especially the youth among them, I too was eager to watch the solar eclipse on the 26th of December. But unfortunately, on that day overcast skies in Delhi prevented me from enjoying the sight. Though, I did get to see beautiful pictures of the solar eclipse that was visible in Kozhikode and some other parts of India. The sun was visible in the form of a shining ring. On that day, I had the opportunity to talk to some experts in this field…and they told me, that this is caused due to the fact that the moon is located far away from the earth and hence, it is unable to completely cover the sun. Hence, a ring-like shape is formed. This solar eclipse is an annular solar eclipse, also referred to as ‘Valay Grahan’ or ‘Kundal Grahan’. The eclipse reminds us that that we are travelling in space while residing on the earth. Sun, moon and other planets and celestial bodies are orbiting in space. Due to the shadow of the moon, we get to see the various forms of solar eclipse. Friends, India has an ancient and glorious history of astronomy. Our connection with the twinkling stars in the sky is as old as our civilisation. Many of you might be aware that at various places in India, there are magnificent observatories (Jantar Mantars) – which are worth seeing. And these observatories have a deep bond with astronomy. Who doesn’t know about the prodigious talent of the great Aryabhatta.
During his career, he has expounded in great detail about the solar eclipse, as well as the lunar eclipse. And he has explained it both from a philosophical as well as a mathematical standpoint. Mathematically, he has described how to calculate the size of the shadow of the earth. He has also provided accurate information on how to calculate the duration and extent of the eclipse. His disciples like Bhaskara, strived hard to further this spirit of inquiry and knowledge. Later, in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, Maadhav of Sangam village in Kerala, used calculus to calculate the position of planets in the universe. The night sky, was not merely something that whetted the curiosity. It was an important source for mathematicians and scientists. A few years ago, I had unveiled a book called “Pre-modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages’. This book, in a way, is the diary of Maalam. Maalam was a navigator and whatever he experienced professionally, he recorded it in his diary. Even in the modern age, the very same “Maalam’s volume’ exists as a collection of ancient Gujarati manuscripts. It describes ancient navigation technology, and that ‘Maalam’s volume’ repeatedly references, the sky, the stars, the speed of the stars, and clearly describes how the direction is determined in sea voyages with the help of stars; it is stars that navigate us towards our destination.
My dear countrymen, India is quite advanced in the field of astronomy, and we have taken path-breaking initiatives in this field. We have a giant meter-wave telescope near Pune. Not just that, in Kodaikkaanal, Udagamandala, Guru Shikhar and Hanle Ladakh as well, powerful telescopes are located. In 2016, the then Prime Minister of Belgium and I, had inaugurated the 3.6 metre Devasthal optical telescope in Nainital. This is known as Asia’s largest telescope. ISRO has an astronomical satellite called ASTROSAT. ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aditya, to study the sun. Whether it be our ancient knowledge in astronomy, or modern achievements in this field, we should strive to understand them and feel proud of them. Today, our young scientists not only display a great desire to know their scientific history, but also are resolute in fashioning astronomy’s future.
The planetariums in our country, in addition to increasing the understanding of the night sky, also motivate people to develop star gazing as a hobby. Many people install amateur telescopes on their balconies or terrace. Star gazing can also encourage rural camps and rural picnics.
And there are many such schools and colleges that form astronomy clubs, and such steps must be encouraged.
My dear countrymen, we consider our Parliament as the temple of our democracy. Today, I wish to proudly mention, that the parliamentarians that you have elected have broken all the records of the last 60 years. In the last 6 months, both the sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha have been very productive. Lok sabha’s productivity stands at 114%, while that of Rajya Sabha is 94%. And prior to that in the budget session, it had a productivity of 135%. Often, Parliament functioned till late at night. I am mentioning this because all Parliamentarians deserve to be congratulated and complimented for this. The Parliamentarians that you elected, have broken all the records of the last 60 years. So much accomplishment, in itself shows the strength of Indian democracy and the faith in democracy. I wish to congratulate all the Presiding officers, all political parties and all members of parliament for their active role in this regard.
My dear countrymen, the movement of the sun, moon and earth doesn’t just determine eclipses, rather many other things are also associated with them. We all know, that based on the sun’s motion, various festivals will be celebrated throughout India in the middle of January. From Punjab to Tamil Nadu…from Gujarat to Assam…people will celebrate various festivals. Makar Sankraanti and UttaraayaN is celebrated with great fervour in the month of January. They are considered a symbol of energy. During this time, we will see the celebration of Lohri in Punjab, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Maagh Biihu in Assam. These festivals have a close link with the prosperity of farmers and their crops. These festivals remind us of India’s unity as well as its diversity. The countrymen have the proud privilege to celebrate the last day of Pongal as the birth anniversary of the great Tiruvalluvar . This day is dedicated to the great writer-philosopher-saint Tiruvalluvar and his life.
My dear countrymen, this is the final episode of “Man ki Baat” in 2019. We will meet again in 2020. New Year, new decade, new resolutions, new energy, new enthusiasm, new zeal – come let’s move forth. Let’s enable ourselves to fulfill our resolutions. We have to walk far, we have to achieve a lot, we have to take our country to new heights. Let’s show immense faith in the pursuits (actions), the abilities and the resolve of 130 crore countrymen, and come – let’s move forth. Many many thanks, many many good wishes.