The importance of rivers, 'swachhata' or cleanliness, and self-sustainability in various sectors took centre stage in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 81st episode of the monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
The little over 30-minute speech, which was pre-recorded before Modi left for New York on 24 September, was broadcast on All India Radio and Doordarshan and on AIR News website and mobile app. It was also live-streamed on the YouTube channels of AIR, DD News, PMO, BJP, and the information and broadcasting ministry.
The radio programme comes after Modi's visit to the United States where he addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Here are what the prime minister's messages were for the people of the country:
World River Day
Prime Minister Modi opened his programme by emphasising the importance of rivers given 26 September was World River Day, which is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of every September.
Quoting a Sanskrit couplet, Modi said that rivers do not drink their own water but give mankind the gift of water, indicating that just the way rivers selflessly provide water for humans, people too should take steps to preserve them and keep them clean. He talked about the role rivers plays in Indian tradition, from festivals being celebrated near their ghats to the chanting of the shloka during ablutions. He called on people to come together and cooperate with one another to keep the rivers clean, while always bearing in mind that their river is life-giving and that there are several states like Rajasthan and Gujarat that often suffer from the water crises.
Namami Gange Programme & E-auction
While speaking on preservation of fresh water sources, Modi also touched upon the river rejuvenation programme, Namami Gange. It is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a 'Flagship Programme' by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga. It operates under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
He mentioned that the proceeds from the e-auction of gifts and mementoes received by him will go to the Namami Gange Programme. To mark the prime minister's birthday on 17 September, the ministry of culture has organised the e-auction.
He said that down the years, governmental organisations and NGOs have worked together to protect the rivers of the country and lauded them for their efforts. Among those who found mention were:
Naganadhi river: Over 20,000 women in Vellore got together to save the seasonal Naganadhi river, the primary source of water for the region some decades ago, after it had been dry for 15 years.
Sabarmati: Modi spoke about how the river was revived by connecting it with the river Narmada
He urged everybody to help preserve rivers in their own ways and called upon those who inhabit banks of river to celebrate "Nadi Diwas" or "River Festival".
Cleanliness and nationalism
Remembering Mahatma Gandhi, the prime minister asked the people of the country to never consider any effort small, because Gandhi achieved greats goals through simple efforts. Speaking on Gandhi, Modi said that the Mahatma has managed to link cleanliness with independence
Mahatma Gandhi had realised early in his life that the prevalent poor state of sanitation and cleanliness in India and particularly the lack of adequate toilets, in the then largely rural India, needed as much attention as was being devoted toward attainment of swaraj. He said that unless we "rid ourselves of our dirty habits and have improved latrines, swaraj can have no value for us." Along with the struggle for India's independence, he led a continuous struggle for sanitation, cleanliness, and efficient management of all categories of wastes throughout his public life (1893 " 30.1.1948), in South Africa and then in India.
Modi said, just the way Gandhi efforts helped carve out a new India, Swachh Bharat Mission will also aid the idea of a new India. He said that cleanliness is not just the responsibility of one or two governments but the responsibility of every generation.
While speaking on cleanliness, Modi mentioned the importance of a clean economy, hinting at efforts being made by the government to eradicate corruption. He made two points on the subjects:
Jan Dhan accounts and DBT: The prime minister drew attention to how corruption and irregularities could be bypassed because of the direct benefit transfer process. Just the day the building of toilets had helped restore the dignity of the people, the government's DBT and Jana Dhan accounts are helping the people live a dignified life.
Digital transaction: Focusing on the success of Digital India, he said that in August 2020 355 crore transactions took place through UPI and six crore transactions take place daily on average.
Promotion of Khadi and handloom
In keeping with the continuing Azida ka Amruta Mahotsav, which is being celebrated to mark the 75 years of Indian independence, he called on the people of the country to buy handloom and khadi on 2 October, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, and set a record under the Vocal for Local programme. Similarly, he said that the government's call to highlight the contribution of unsung heroes of independence has led to over 13,000 people registering themselves for the programme.
While lauding the team of differently-abled people who created a world record by hoisting a flag on the Kumar Post situated at an altitude of more than 15,000 feet at the Siachen glacier, he talked about how the country is making efforts to help its differently abled.
Coronavirus and healthcare
Modi said that the unprecedented pandemic has increased people's interest in wellness and healthcare, which in turn has fuelled the entrepreneurial spirit in people. He cited examples from Odisha's Kalahandi to Deori village in Jharkhand where such entrepreneurial spirit has not only made contributions to the healthcare and wellness sectors but also generated employment.
Referring to Dussehra, Modi said that this year while we celebrate Lord Ram's victory over Ravana we must continue efforts to defeat coronavirus. He urged people to not only get themselves vaccinated and follow COVID protocols but also help the unvaccinated get vaccines.
With inputs from PTI