Addressing his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on May 27 Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that May 1857 was not only evaluated as a minor historical incident but was also an attempt to dent our self-respect. Here, highlights of the speech is being given for our esteemed readers:
I am sure you distinctly remember that for the last many months, a naval team comprising six women Commanders was on a voyage. I want to tell you something about the ‘Naavika Saagar Parikrama’. These six illustrious daughters of India circumnavigated the globe for over more than 250 days on board the INSV Tarini, returning home on the 21st of May. The entire country welcomed them with open arms, with high spirits. They traversed a multitude of oceans, many a sea, over a distance of almost twenty two thousand nautical miles. This was a first of its kind event in the entire world. Last Wednesday, I got an opportunity to meet these daughters and listen to their experiences. Once again, I congratulate these daughters and their spirit of adventure for bringing laurels to the country.
My dear countrymen, especially my young friends, just a couple of months ago, when I mentioned ‘Fit India’, I did not think it would draw such a good response; that a large number of people would come forward to support it. When I say ‘Fit India’, I believe that the more we play, the more we will inspire the country to come out & play. People are sharing videos of Fitness Challenge on social media; they are tagging each other to spread the challenge. Everybody is now getting connected with this Fit India Campaign.
It is true that sports & games that were once a part & parcel of every child’s life, in every lane in the neighbourhood, are fading into oblivion. These games used to be a special feature of summer holidays. Sometimes in scorching afternoons; at times after dinner, children used to play with exuberant abandon for hours together, leaving all worries behind. Some games saw the participation of the whole family. Aiming the ball at the crooked column of stone slats- Pitthoo, playing marbles, testing one’s agility in Kho kho, spinning the top, A single game is known by distinct names at different places.
India will officially host the World Environment Day Celebrations. This is a very important achievement for India and it is also an acknowledgement as well as recognition of India’s growing leadership in the direction of tackling climate change. This time the theme is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. I appeal to all of you, that while trying to understand the importance of this theme, we should all ensure that we do not use low grade polythene and low grade plastics and try to curb the negative impact of plastic pollution on our environment, on our wild life and our health.
My dear countrymen, memories of this May month are also linked with Veer Savarkar. This was the very month, the month of May 1857, when Indians had displayed their strength against the British. In many parts of the country, our youth and farmers demonstrated their bravery whilst standing up against the injustice. It is indeed sad that we kept on calling the events of 1857 only as a rebellion or a soldiers’ mutiny for a very long time.
In fact, May 1857 was not only evaluated as a minor historical incident but was also an attempt to dent our self-respect. It was Veer Savarkar who boldly expostulated by writing that whatever happened in 1857 was not a revolt but was indeed the First War of Independence. Savarkar along with his band of brave hearts celebrated the 50thanniversary of the First War of Independence with great fanfare at India house in London. It is also an amazing coincidence that the month which witnessed the First Struggle for Independence was the month in which Veer Savarkar ji was born. Savarkar ji’s personality was full of special qualities; he was a worshipper of both weapons or shashtra and Knowledge or shaashtras. Generally Veer Savarkar is renowned for his bravery and his struggle against the British Raj. But besides these sterling qualities, he was also a striking poet and a social reformer who always emphasized on goodwill and unity.
I was watching a story on TV about our underprivileged daughters of certain slums in Sikar, Rajasthan. Our daughters, who were forced to sift through garbage and beg from home to home in order to earn a living – today they are learning sewing and stitching clothes to cover the impoverished. This is an example where the daughters are stitching ordinary to good quality clothes for themselves and other families. Along with this, they are undergoing a training course in skill development. These daughters have become self-reliant today and are living their lives with respect and have become a strong support to their families.
I wish all these daughters, brimming with hope and trust, a very bright future. But there are some people who go ahead with their work, to bring about a change through their hard work and dedication; they make it a reality. Such is the story of D. Prakash Rao, living in the slums of Cuttack, Orissa, Shriman D. Prakash Rao has been a tea vendor in the city of Cuttack forthe past five decades. A meagre tea vendor; today you will be surprised to know that the lives of more than 70 children are being illuminated through education due to his efforts. He has opened a school named ‘Asha Ashvaasan’, spending 50% of his incomefor children living in slums and hutments. He ensures education, health and meals for all the children coming to this school. I congratulate D. Prakash Rao for his hard work, his persistence and for providing a new direction to the lives of those poor children attending his school.