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PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Programme on All India Radio on August 28, 2016

My dear countrymen, Namaskar,

Tomorrow, 29th August is the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand. This occasion is celebrated as ‘National Sports Day’ throughout the country. I offer my tributes to Dhyan Chand ji and wish to remind you all about his invaluable contribution. He played a pivotal role in helping India win Hockey Gold Medals in Olympic Games of 1928, 1932 and 1936. All of us cricket lovers know Bradman’s name very well. He had complimented Dhyan Chand ji by saying that ‘he scores goals like runs’. Dhyan Chand ji was a living example of sportsman spirit and nationalism. During a match in Kolkata one player from the opposite team hit him on the head with the hockey stick. At that point, only 10 minutes were left in the game. And, Dhyan Chand ji scored three goals in just those ten minutes and said – “I avenged the hit by scoring goals”.

Dear countrymen, as the time of Mann Ki Baat draws near, a very large number of suggestions are received on MyGov or NarendraModiApp. These are on diverse topics. But, I saw that this time in most of these suggestions, people had asked me to say something about the Rio Olympics. I find it a very positive sign that our common people have such attachment and awareness about Rio Olympics and they are insisting that the Prime Minister of the country says something on this matter. It shows that besides Cricket, our people have so much involvement in and awareness and knowledge about other sports and games also. For me, even reading these messages proved to be a source of inspiration. One Shri Ajit Singh ji has written on NarendraModiApp – “Please, this time in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ do talk about the education of our daughters, our ‘Betis’ and their participation in sports because they have brought laurels for the country by winning medals at the Rio Olympics.” One Shri Sachin has written to urge that in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ this time a mention may please be made about Sindhu, Saakshi and Deepa Karmakar. Whatever medals we got have been earned by our daughters. These Betis have once again proved that they are second to none in any respect. One of these daughters is from North India while there is one who belongs to South India and then there is one from the Eastern part. All in all, they represent all corners of our country. It seems that our daughters in the whole of India have decided to take up the responsibility of bringing glory to the nation.

Shikhar Thakur has written on MyGov that we could have performed better at the Olympics. He has written – “Respected Modi Sir, first of all, congratulations on our winning two medals at Rio. However, I want to draw your attention to the question – was our performance really good? And, the answer is ‘No’. We have to go a long way in the field of sports. Our parents, even today, insist on focusing on studies and academics. Sports are considered a waste of time in our society. We need to change this mindset. Society needs motivation for this. And, no one can do this better than you.”

Similarly, one Shri Satya Prakash Mehra ji has written on NarednraModiApp – “In Mann Ki Baat, there is a need to focus on extra-curricular activities, especially on encouraging children and youth to play.” Thousands of people have expressed similar sentiments. There is no denying the fact that we could not perform up to the expectations. Some of our players could not even touch during these Games their own performance level which they had achieved during the domestic events in India. In the medals chart, our tally was only two medals. However, it is also a fact that if we look closely, we shall find that despite missing medals, Indian players gave a very good account of themselves for the first time in some of the events.

See, our Abhinav Bindra very narrowly missed the medal and got fourth place in Shooting. Dipa Karmakar produced a superb performance in Gymnastics, although she remained at the fourth place and missed a Bronze by a very narrow margin. But, how can we forget that she is India’s first daughter to qualify in Gymnastics for the Olympics and also to reach the final round. The pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna met almost a similar fate in Tennis. Our athletes this time gave a creditable performance. After 32 years of P.T. Usha’s feat, Lalita babar qualified for the finals in track and field. Our Women’s Hockey Team qualified for the Olympic Games after a space of 36 long years. Men’s Hockey Team reached knock out stage after 36 years. Our team is quite strong. And the interesting part is that Gold Medalist Argentina lost just one match in the entire tournament and the team which defeated them was INDIA. Thus, the future surely seems bright for us.

Vikas Krishna Yadav reached the quarter finals in Boxing but could not win Bronze. Many players like Aditi Ashok, Dattu Bhokanal, Atanu Das gave a very good performance. But my dear countrymen, we do have to go a long way. And if we stick to the same routine, we may perhaps keep facing the same disappointment. I have announced setting up of a committee. The Government of India will make an in depth in-house analysis and will study the practices being followed around the world. We shall prepare a roadmap on how we can do better. We have to prepare a far reaching plan keeping in view the Olympics in 2020, 2024, 2028. I urge the State Governments also to set up similar committees to find out as to what we can do in sports. What can each state do? The states can take up one or two sports of their choice and display their strength.

I urge our sports associations also to do objective and impartial brainstorming on this. And, I also request all citizens of the country who have interest in this matter to mail their suggestions on NarendraModiApp. They may write to the government; associations may discuss these issues and submit their memoranda to the government. State governments too should deliberate on this matter and provide their suggestions. But, we must prepare ourselves fully and thoroughly. And, I am confident that we, the nation of 125 crore people comprising 65 percent youth population can reach an exalted status in the world of sports too. We have to move ahead with this resolve.

My dear countrymen, 5th September is ‘Teachers Day’. For many years, I have been spending a lot of time with students on Teachers Day and that too as a student myself. I used to learn quite a lot from those young children. For me, 5th September was Teachers Day as well as an Education Day. But, this time I have to leave for G-20 Summit and so felt in my heart that I should express my feelings in this regard in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ today.

In our life, a teacher holds the same place which a mother does. We have also seen such teachers who care more for their pupils than for themselves. They devote their lives for their disciples, their students. These days, after Rio Olympics, Pulela Gopi Chand ji is being talked about everywhere. He is a player first but he has set up a glorious example of what a good coach, that is, a teacher should be. I see Gopi Chand ji today as an excellent teacher besides being a very accomplished player. And, on Teachers Day, I salute Pulela Gopi Chand ji for his hard work, his dedication towards sports and his manner of finding happiness in the success of his disciples. We always feel the contribution of our teachers in our lives. 5th September happens to be the birthday of India’s former President Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan ji and the country celebrates this as Teachers Day. Whatever post he held in his life, he always tried to live like a teacher, an educator. Not only this, he always said that “a good teacher can only be one who keeps the student within always alive”. Dr. Radhakrishnan ji showed this by living as a teacher and by keeping alive the student within him despite holding the highest office of the President.

Some times when I think of it, I remember so many incidents related with my teachers because they were our heroes in our small village. However, I can happily say that even now I receive a hand written letter every month from one of my teachers, who has turned 90 now. In this letter, he mentions books read by him during that month along with quotations. He also gives his comments on what he deems correct or otherwise in whatever I have done during the month. It is as if he is, even now, teaching me in the class room. In a way, he is conducting a correspondence course for me even today. And, about his handwriting even at the age of 90, I marvel that he writes so beautifully whereas my own handwriting is very poor. That is why, whenever I look at somebody’s good handwriting, I have a great respect for it. You may also be having similar experience. If you tell the world about whatever good has happened in your life because of your teachers, people’s attitude towards teachers would change. It will be a matter of pride and it is our duty to enhance the honour of our teachers in the society. If you have a photograph with your teacher or an incident connected with your teacher or an inspirational thing associated with your teacher, please do share the same on NarendraModiApp. Looking at the contribution of teachers in the country from the point of view of students is also immensely valuable in itself.

My dear countrymen, Ganesh Utsav is drawing near. Ganesh ji removes all obstacles and let us all wish that our country, our society, our families, and each one of us may lead a life free of obstacles. But, when we mention Ganesh Utsav, it is natural to remember Lokmanya Tilak ji. The tradition of public celebration of Ganesh Utsav is Lokmanya Tilak’s gift to us. By publicly celebrating Ganesh Utsav, he turned this religious occasion into a festival of national awakening and social refinement. These Ganesh festivities included holding wide-ranging discussions on the issues that touched our lives and society, and comprised such programmes which provided a new vigour and vitality to our social fabric. Also, his mantra “Swaraj, that is, freedom is my birthright” should have the main focus thereby strengthening the freedom movement. Now, not in Maharashtra alone but in each corner of India, Ganesh Utsav is celebrated publicly. Young people make elaborate preparations, they are full of vigour. Some people even now try to follow the path shown by Lokmanya Tilak ji. They organise debates on topics of public interest, and hold essay competitions and rangoli competitions. Tableus depict the issues of social concern in a very artistic manner. In a way, a mass campaign of public education gets underway through these Ganesh festivities. Lokmanya Tilak ji gave us the inspirational mantra – “Swaraj, that is, freedom is our birthright.” But now we live in independent India. So do we through these public Ganesh festivals move now to SURAAJ, that is, good governance by proclaiming ‘SURAAJ is my birthright’. Good governance, SURAAJ, should be our priority; can we not recite this mantra and give a message for it in the public Ganesh festival celebrations? Come on, I invite you all.

It is true that festivals express the vitality of a society. Festivals infuse new life into individuals as well as the society. Life seems to be impossible without festivals but these have to be moulded according to the needs of the changing times. I have seen that this time, many people have written to me mentioning Ganeshotsav and Durga Puja. They are worried about environment. One Shri Shankar Narayan Prashant has strongly urged –“Modi ji, kindly tell the people through your Mann Ki Baat that they should not use Ganesh idols made of Plaster of Paris. Why should we not use Ganeshji idols made of the clay from the village pond. POP idols are not environment friendly”. He has expressed a great pain, others have also. I request you all as to why should we not use clay in making Ganesh and Durga idols and revert to our old tradition. This will help in environment preservation, prevent pollution of our rivers and ponds and also provide protection to small creatures living in water. This is also the service of God. Ganesh ji removes obstacles. So, we should not make such Ganeshji idols, which create problems. I do not know how you will take my suggestions but it is not just me but many other people saying the same thing. I have heard about many such people including Pune based sculptor Shri Abhijit Dhondphale, Kolhapur institutions Nisarg-Mitra and Vigyan Prabodhini, Nisarg Katta in Vidarbh, Gyan Prabodhini of Pune, and Girgaoncha Raja of Mumbai. Many such institutions work hard to promote Ganesh idols made from clay and they also propagate it. Eco-friendly Ganeshotsav is also social service. There is still time left before the start of Durga Pooja festivities. If we resolve now, our efforts will lead to employment generation for those families which traditionally used to make clay idols in the past. Also the clay will go back and get dissolved in the pond or the river and will thus help in protecting the environment. I offer my best wishes to you all for Ganesh Chaturthi.

My dear countrymen, Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa will be canonized, that is, accorded sainthood on 4th September. Mother Teresa devoted her entire life to the service of the poor in India. Though she was born in Albania and her mother tongue was not English, yet she transformed her life and did everything to be able to serve the poor. When Mother Teresa, who served the poor in India all through her life, is accorded Sainthood, it is quite natural for we Indians to feel proud. Indian government will send an official delegation under the leadership of our External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to represent 125 crore Indians at the canonization ceremony to be held on 4th September. We keep learning something or the other from great men and women, saints, sages, holy people. We shall continue to receive something, learn something from them and keep on doing some good things.

My dear countrymen, when development becomes a mass movement, a big transformation takes place. Peoples’ power is, in a way, considered to be a divine incarnation. Government of India has made a successful effort to clean the Ganga and involve the people for this project with the cooperation of five State governments. Pradhans of villages situated on the banks of the river Ganga were invited to Allahabad on the 20th of this month. They included men as well as women. They came to Allahabad and took an oath before Mother Ganga that they will make all out efforts to immediately stop the practice of open defecation in their villages situated on the banks of Ganga, start a campaign of building toilets and also that these villages will make their full contribution in cleaning up Ganga and will ensure that Ganga is not polluted now. I congratulate all the Pradhans who had assembled in Allahabad with this resolve from different States; they had come from Uttrakhand, from Uttar Pradesh, from Bihar, from Jharkhand and from West Bengal. I also congratulate all those Ministries of the Government of India and also those ministers who turned this vision into reality. I also want to thank the Chief Ministers of these five States for taking the vital step in the direction of making Ganga clean by involving people’s power.

My dear countrymen, certain things touch me very deeply and my heart bows in respect to those who visualize such heartwarming initiatives. In Kabirdham district of Chhatisgarh more than 1.25 lakh students from about 1700 schools collectively wrote letters to their parents. Some students wrote in English, some wrote in Hindi and some in Chhatisgarhi to their parents telling them that there should be toilets in their houses. They demanded building toilets. Some students even wrote that they would rather go without celebrating birthday but the toilet must be constructed.

Students of age between seven to seventeen took up this task. And this had such an impact, such an emotional impact that while the students were going to school the next day, their parents handed over reply letters to them addressed to the teacher in which they promised to build toilets by a certain date positively. My compliments to those who visualized this idea, compliments to these students and special compliments to those parents who took their childrens’ letters so seriously and also took a decision to construct a toilet. This is what inspires us.

In Koppal district of Karnataka, a sixteen year old girl Mallamma started a Satyagrah against her own family. She launched the Satyagrah and stopped eating and she did that not to ask something for herself, not to demand good clothes or have sweets. This daughter Mallamma was adamant to have a toilet built in her house. But, the family was not in a good position economically. The daughter stuck to her demand and was not prepared to end her Satyagrah. The village pradhan Mohammad Shafi came to know about this. He was told that Mallamma had protested to press for her demand for getting a toilet built in her house. Now, look at the gesture of village Pradhan Mohammad Shafi, he arranged eighteen thousand rupees and got a toilet built within a week. Just see the power and strength in Mallamma’s protest, and also consider the grand gesture of a village Pradhan like Mohammad Shafi. Look how the solutions to problems are found, this is the power of the people.

My dear countrymen, Swachha Bharat has become the dream of each Indian. Some Indians have made it their resolve. Some Indians have made it their aim and purpose. But, each one is connected to it in one or the other way and everyone is making a contribution. Daily we hear about the various innovative efforts in this direction. Acting on one such idea, the Government of India has called upon the people to make short films of 2 to 3 minutes duration on Swachhta, that is, cleanliness and send these to the Government. You can find details of this plan on website. A competition will be held and the winners will be awarded prizes on Gandhi Jayanti Day on 2nd October. I request TV channels also to invite such films and hold a competition. Creativity can give a new strength to Swachhata Abhiyan or cleanliness campaign. New slogans will emerge, newer methods will come to knowledge, a new inspiration will be generated and all this will happen with the great support of the people. Lesser known artists could be taken and it is not necessary to have a big studio and a big camera. You can even shoot a film these days using your mobile phone camera. I call upon you all to come forward and participate.

My dear countrymen, India has always tried its best to have close, cordial and vibrant relations with its neighbours. A very important event took place recently. The Honourable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a new radio channel named ‘Akashvani Maitree Channel’ at Kolkata. Now, some people may wonder whether Honourable President should inaugurate a Radio Channel? But this is no ordinary Radio Channel, it is a very big and very important step. We have Bangladesh as our neighbour. We know that both Bangladesh and West Bengal continue to have a common cultural heritage. So, Akashvani Maitree on this side and Bangladesh Betaar on that side will mutually share the content and Bengali speaking people on both sides will enjoy the programmes of Akashvani, that is, All India Radio. This people to people contact is a big contribution of Akashvani. The President launched this radio channel. I extend my thanks to Bangladesh also for collaborating with us in this initiative. I congratulate the friends in All India Radio too for making their contribution in our foreign policy also.

My dear countrymen, although you have entrusted me with the responsibilities of Prime Minister but I also am a human being just like you. At times, sensitive events touch me a little too deeply. Such sentimental incidents generate new energy, give new inspiration and this is what motivates us Indians to do some remarkable things. I received a letter recently which touched my heart. A motherly lady of about 84 years of age who is a retired teacher wrote that letter to me. If she had not forbidden me from revealing her name, I from the core of my heart wanted to announce her name while talking to you. She wrote in her letter that after my appeal to the people to forego their cooking gas subsidy, she had given up her subsidy and then she even forgot about it. However, a few days ago a person on my behalf went to her and delivered a letter in which she was thanked for her giving up the subsidy. And, she has said that a letter from the Prime Minister was no less than a Padma Shree honour for her.

Dear countrymen, you may be knowing that I have tried to send a letter, to be delivered personally through my representatives, to all those who surrendered their cooking gas subsidy on my appeal. My effort is to send letters to more than one crore people. Under this plan my letter had reached this mother who wrote back to me saying that I was doing a good work under the campaign of providing relief to those poor ladies who are getting freedom from the smoke of a Chulha. I am a retired teacher and will cross the age of 90 years within a few years and I am sending you a donation of fifty thousand rupees which you can use in this mission of providing relief from the Chulha smoke to the poor women. You may well imagine the missionary spirit of this retired teacher living on pension and donating an amount of fifty thousand rupees for the sake of provision of gas connection to the other poor mothers and sisters, in order to save them from the ill effects of Chulha smoke. It is not a question of 50 thousand rupees but the basic question is of the empathy in this old lady and it is because of the blessings of this lady and of crores of our other mothers and sisters which strengthens my confidence in the future of the country. And, she did not write to me this letter as a Prime Minister but she straightforwardly wrote – “Modi Bhaiya!” I salute this wonderful mother and I also salute crores of similar mothers in India who keep doing something or the other all the time for the benefit of others despite facing many difficulties themselves.

My dear countrymen, we were struggling with drought-like conditions last year but this August we have been facing the fury of floods all through. In some parts of the country, there have been repetitive floods. State governments, Union government, local self-government bodies, social organisations and the citizens did whatever best could be done. Yet, even amidst the reports of these floods, some such events happened which should be remembered. Which show the power of unity, and how big results can be achieved by working together? The month of August this year has become memorable. In August 2016, about 90 political parties in the country, many of these parties in the Parliament, which were staunch opponents of each other and which do not miss the slightest opportunity against each other, all these parties got united and passed the GST Act. The credit for this goes to all the parties. And, this is an example which shows that great tasks can be accomplished by working in unison to move ahead. Similarly, about the incidents that took place in Kashmir and all that happened in Kashmir, all political parties in the country collectively expressed their views in one voice. A massage was sent to the whole world, a massage also went to the separatist forces and our sympathy was expressed towards the people of Kashmir. Whatever interaction with whomsoever I had on Kashmir resounded with these views quite prominently and if I may try to summarise these views and comments, the gist and essence were unity and affection; these two were the fundamental points. And, we all are of the view, and this is the view of all 125 crore Indians, right from the village Pradhan to the Prime Minister that every loss of life in Kashmir – whether it is of a young man or of a security personnel – it is our own loss, a loss of our people, a loss for the nation! Those trying to disturb peace in Kashmir by putting small children in the front and hiding behind them will have to be answerable to these very innocent children some day.

My dear countrymen, ours is a vast nation, full of diversities. To keep this country of manifold diversities united, we all as citizens, as society and as the government, have a responsibility to encourage things which strengthen our national unity and highlight these with full vigour, only then we can make our country’s future bright, and, of course, this will be achieved. I have full faith in the power of my 125 crore countrymen. That is all for today, many many thanks.

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