I firmly believe that dream of ‘New India’ will be realized through the skill & fortitude of youth: PM

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Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on December 31st, 2017 addressed the nation through his monthly radio programm ‘Mann Ki Baat’. On this occasion he said, ‘People born in the year 2000 or later; those born in the 21st century will gradually begin to become eligible voters from the 1st of January, 2018. The Indian Democracy welcomes the voters of the 21st century, the ‘New India Voters’. Excerpts…

The following are highlights of the address:
Over the last few days, the festival of Christmas was celebrated across the world with gaiety and fervor. People in India too celebrated Christmas with warmth and cheer. The pious occasion of Christmas reminds us of the great teachings of Jesus Christ who laid much emphasis on the spirit of service, ‘Sewa bhaav’.

This year was also the 350th ‘Prakash Parv’ of Guru Gobind Singh ji. The illustrious life of Guru Gobind Singh ji, full of instances of courage & sacrifice is a source of inspiration to all of us. Guru Gobind Singh ji preached the virtues of sublime human values and at the same time, practiced them in his own life in letter & spirit. A guru, a poet, a philosopher, a great warrior, Guru Gobind Singh ji, in all these roles, performed the great task of inspiring people. He fought against oppression & injustice.

The 1st of January, 2018, i.e. tomorrow, in my view, is a special day. You’ll be surprised, since the New Year comes every year, the 1st of January arrives every year! But, when I refer to it as special, I really mean it as special. People born in the year 2000 or later; those born in the 21st century will gradually begin to become eligible voters from the 1st of January, 2018. The Indian Democracy welcomes the voters of the 21st century, the ‘New India Voters’. I congratulate our youth & urge them to register themselves as voters. The entire nation is eager to welcome you as voters of the 21st century. As voters of this century, you too must be feeling proud. Your vote will prove to be the bedrock of New India. The power of the vote is the greatest strength of a democracy.

I consider them ‘New India Youth’, ‘New India Youth’ stands for aspirations, enthusiasm & energy. I firmly believe that the dream of our ‘New India’ will be realized through the skill & fortitude of these energetic youth.

When we talk of new India then that new India will be free from the poison of casteism, communalism, terrorism and corruption; free from filth and poverty. In the New India everyone will have equal opportunity and aspirations and wishes of everyone will be fulfilled. New India will be a place where peace, unity and amity will be our guiding force. My New India Youth should come forward and deliberate on how this New India would be formed. One should decide one’s own path and also decide a way for connecting along those attached to one and the Caravan should get going. You should move forward and thus should the country move ahead. Right now, while taking to you I got an idea whether we could organize a mock parliament in every district of India? Where the youth between 18 and 25 could sit together and brain storm about new India, find ways and chalk our plans. How could we realize our resolves before 2022? How could we build an India of the dreams of our freedom fighters? Mahatma Gandhi had transformed the freedom movement into a mass movement. My young friends, the need of the hour is that we build up a mass movement for making a magnificent- glorious 21st century India; a mass movement of development, a mass movement to build a capable and strong India.

I propose that a mock Parliament be organized around the 15th August in Delhi comprising one young representatives selected from every district of India who would participate and deliberate on how a new India could be formed in the next five years. How can resolve be transformed into reality? Today, a lot of new opportunities have been created for the youth. Our youth are coming forward in areas like skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship and are achieving success. I wish that the New India Youth get information and details of all these new opportunities and plans at one place and a system be created so that every young person on turning 18 should automatically get to know all this and benefit from it.

There are a large number of such persons who have brought in positive transformation in the lives of many people through endeavour at their own level. In fact, this is the New India which we are all collectively building. Let us enter into the New Year with such little achievements, begin our New Year and take concrete steps in the journey from ‘Positive India’ to ‘Progressive India’.

Just last week, I had a chance of meeting some daughters of Jammu & Kashmir. I was amazed at the spirit that they had, the enthusiasm that was there in their hearts and the dreams they nurtured. I was listening to them on how they wanted to make progress in various facets of life and, how their lives were filled with hope. I talked to them, there was no sign of despair; there was only enthusiasm, optimism, energy, dreams and a sense of resolve. Whatever little time I spent with these daughters, I got inspired myself. These are the strength of our nation, they are my youth, they are the future of my country.

Whenever there is a reference to famous religious places, not only of India but of the whole world, it is very natural to mention about the Sabrimala temple of Kerala. Millions of devotees come to this world famous temple, seeking blessings of Lord Ayyappa Swami. It is a huge challenge maintaining cleanliness around such a large religious place where devotees in such huge number come. And especially, since this place is situated in the midst of hills and forests. But, Sabrimala temple in itself is an example to show how this challenge could be converted into a sanskar, a habit and what a tremendous strength public participation has! One police officer P. Vijayan initiated a programme Punyam Poonkavanam and commenced a voluntary campaign of creating awareness on cleanliness. And, he began a tradition that the yatra of devotees will remain incomplete if they do not contribute by performing some physical labour or the other in the cleanliness programme. No one is big or small in this campaign. Every devotee considers doing physical labour in the cleanliness drive as a part of the Lord’s worship. Every morning, there is a uniquely pleasant scene of cleanliness here when all devotees join in the drive. However big a celebrity be, or however rich one might be or however high an official be – each one contributes as an ordinary devotee in this Punyan Poonkavanam programme and becomes a part of this cleanliness drive.

For waste- collection the principle of reduce, reuse and re-cycle is very effective. Now ranking of cities will be done on the basis of this survey- if your city has a population of more than one lakh, ranking will be done on the national level and if the population of your city is less than one lakh than it will be ranked on regional level. Achieving the highest ranking must be your dream and you should put all out efforts in this direction. Be sure that you do not remain lagging behind in the Cleanliness Survey to be conducted from 4th January to 10th March, 2018. This should become the talking point in every city. And all of you must have a dream – ‘Our city – our efforts’, ‘Our progress – country’s progress’. Let us all, once again remembering revered Bapu and taking a resolve to build a Clean India, put in our best endeavours.

There are a few things which appear small but they have a far reaching impact on our image as a society. Today, in this episode of Mann Ki Baat, I want to share one such thing with you. It has come to our notice that if a Muslim woman wants to go on Haj Pilgrimage, she must have a ‘Mehram’ or a male guardian, otherwise she cannot travel.

When I first heard about it, I wondered how it could be possible! Who would have drafted such rules? Why this discrimination? And when I went into the depth of the matter I was surprised to find that – even after seventy years of our independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions. For decades, injustice was being rendered to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it. Even in many Islamic countries this practice does not exist. But Muslim women in India did not have this right. And I’m glad that our government paid heed to this matter.

Our Ministry of Minority Affairs issued corrective measures and we ameliorated this restriction by phasing out a tradition that had been in practice for the past seventy years. Today, Muslim women can perform Haj without ‘mahram’ or male Guardian and I am happy to note that this time about thirteen hundred Muslim women have applied to perform Haj without ‘mahram’ and women from different parts of the country from Kerala to North India, have expressed their wish to go for the Haj pilgrimage. I have suggested to the Ministry of Minority Affairs that they should ensure that all women who have applied to travel alone be allowed to perform Haj. Usually there is a lottery system for selection of Haj pilgrims but I would like that single women pilgrims should be excluded from this lottery system and they should be given a chance as a special category. I not only reiterate this wholeheartedly but it is my firm belief that the journey of India’s progress has been possible due to women-power and on the basis of their talent and we will continue to march onwards on this path of progress. It should be our constant endeavor that our women also get equal rights and equal opportunities just like men get so that they can proceed simultaneously on the path of progress.

My dear countrymen, 26th January is a historic festival for all of us. But 26th January, 2018, will especially be remembered through the ages. The Republic Day will be celebrated with leaders of all ten ASEAN countries coming to India as Chief Guests.

The month of January is the period of the northward movement of the Earth on the celestial orbit around sun and in this month Makar-Sankranti is also celebrated. This is a festival linked with nature. Though all of our festivals are associated with nature in one way or the other, but in our country blessed with the bounty of cultural diversity, there are different ways to celebrate this wonderful episode of nature in different forms. Lohdi is celebrated in Punjab and North-India, while UP-Bihar eagerly await for Khichdi and Til-Sankranti. In Rajasthan, it is called Sankrant, Magh-bihu in Assam and Pongal in Tamil Nadu – all these festivals are special in their own right and they have their own importance. All of these festivals are usually celebrated between 13th and 17thJanuary.These festivals may have different names, but their origins stems from attachment to nature and agriculture.