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PM’s address in the 90th Birthday Celebrations of Reverend Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan

Honorable  Reverend Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan,   Revered Fathers,   Distinguished  members of  Mar Thoma Church,

It is my great  privilege  to address this august  gathering.  We have gathered  to mark the special  occasion of  the 90th birthday of  Most Revered  Doctor Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan.    I convey my greetings to him,  and I wish him  a long life  and best health.   Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma   has devoted his life  for the betterment  of our society and nation.   He has been  particularly  passionate   about  removal of poverty  and women  empowerment.     


The Mar Thoma Church is closely linked with  the noble ideals of  Saint  Thomas,  the Apostle  of  Lord Christ.  India has always been  open to  spiritual influences from many sources.   The contributions of Saint Thomas  and,  following him,  the Indian Christian community are deeply valued.  With Saint Thomas   we associate  humility.   He rightly said  “Humility which is a virtue,   is always  fruitful  in good works”. It is with this spirit of humility that the Mar Thoma  Church  has worked to bring a positive difference  in the lives of our fellow Indians.   They have done so in areas such as healthcare and education.  Saint Thomas was blessed  with immense wisdom.  The  Mar Thoma  Church played a role in India’s freedom struggle.  The Church  was at the  fore-front of  working towards  national integration.

This Church  fought  the Emergency.  It is a matter of  immense pride  that the  Mar Thoma Church is  firmly rooted in Indian values. The contribution of the Church has also been recognized  at the national level.   The former Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Church,  Philipose Mar Chrysostom,  was conferred with  the Padma Bhushan in 2018.   He inspires many.    


The world is fighting  a strong battle against  a global  pandemic.  COVID-19 is not only  a physical sickness   that is a threat to the lives  of people.   It also takes  our attention to unhealthy life-styles.    A global  pandemic   implies that  humanity as a whole  needs healing.   Let us do everything possible  to further  harmony   and happiness in our planet.    


You would be happy  to know that  powered by our Corona warriors,  India is firmly fighting COVID-19.  Earlier this year,  some people had predicted that the impact  of the virus in India  would be very very severe.   But,  Due to lockdown and  many initiatives taken by the Government as well as a people driven fight,  India is much better placed than many other nations.  India’s recovery rate is  rising.

Any loss of life is unfortunate, due to Covid or otherwise.   However,  India’s death per million  due to Covid is under 12.  To place this in context, the death rate in Italy is 574 per Million.   The figures in America, Britain,  Spain,  and France  are also much higher than India.    Lakhs of villages,  home to 85 crore people, remain almost untouched  by Coronavirus.    


A people  driven fight  has given good results  so far but can we let our  guard   down?  NO, Not at all.  Infact,  we have to be  even more careful now.  Wearing masks, Social distancing,  दो गज की दूरी(Do Gaj ki doori),  Avoiding crowded places, Regular hand washing,  these remain  important.

At the same time, we have to focus  on economic growth  and prosperity for 130 crore Indians.  The wheels of trade and commerce have to move.  Agriculture has to flourish.   In the last few weeks, the Government of India  has addressed both short-term and long-term issues  relating to the economy.  From the sea to space, From the farms to the factories,  people-friendly  and growth friendly decisions have been taken.

The call for Atma Nirbhar  Bharat,  self-reliant India  will ensure economic strength  and prosperity for every Indian.  A month ago,  the Union Cabinet cleared  the Pradhan Mantri  Matasya Sampada Yojana.  This scheme  is going to transform  our  fisheries  sector.  With an investment  of over Rupees Twenty Thousand Crore,  this scheme seeks  to boost the sector.   The aim is to also increase export earnings and provide more employment to over fifty five lakh people.   We want to ensure better technology, infrastructure and make value chains  stronger.   I am confident my fishermen sisters and brothers in Kerala will gain  from this scheme.     


Historic reforms  have been undertaken in the space sector.   These reforms will ensure greater use of space assets and activities.   Access to data and technology will improve.   I see  several youngsters in Kerala  and particularly in South India taking a keen interest  in science and technology.   They will gain from the reforms.     


Our Government has always been guided  by sensitivity and  a long-term vision  to make India a growth engine.   We have taken decisions  not from comfortable Government offices in Delhi but after feedback  from people of the ground.  It is this spirit that ensured  every Indian has access to a bank account.  Over 8 crore families  have access to smoke free kitchens.  Over 1.5 crore houses  have been made to give shelter to the homeless.

India is home to  the largest healthcare scheme  in the world,  Ayushman Bharat.  Over a crore people have got quality treatment.   For the poor, we are bringing one nation-one ration card scheme to help them where they are.  For the middle class,  we have brought  a number of initiatives,  to boost  Ease of living.   For farmers,  we have   increased  the MSP  and made sure  they get the  right price and making the sector free from middle men.

For women,  we are ensuring  that their health  gets due attention  via various schemes.   And, their career path  is not compromised through extension of maternity leaves.  The Government of India  does not discriminate between faith,  gender,  caste,  creed or  language.   We are guided  by the desire to empower  130 crore Indians  and our guiding light  is the ‘Constitution of India’.     


The Holy Bible talks extensively about togetherness.  Now is the time to join ranks, work together for the advancement of our nation.  Think of this- how can our actions contribute to national development?  Today India is saying-  we will produce locally  and also buy local products.   This will light the lamp of prosperity  in the homes of many.  There are many ways to strengthen our nation.   The Mar Thoma Church,  in line with its values  will surely rise to the occasion and play a key role  in India’s growth  trajectory  in the times to come.

Once again,  I convey my greetings  to Honourable  Reverend Dr. Joseph  Mar Thoma  Metropolitan .

Thank you all.   Thank you very much.