Modi Reaches Out To Muslims, In Maiden Speech In Parliament
INDIAN PM VOICES CONCERN OVER COMMUNITY’S CONDITION, SAYS A ‘BODY IS NOT HEALTHY, IF ANY PART ISN’T HEALTHY’
NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said that India needs to establish its identity as “skill India” and not “scam India” and there was need to create a people’s movement for good governance.
In his maiden policy speech in the Lok Sabha in reply to the motion of thanks to the President Pranab Mukherjee’s address, Modi, who came to power on May 26 at the head of a NDA government, said the government would “leave no stone unturned to fulfill” the promises made by it.
In his nearly hour-long speech, which he spoke ex tempore and was heard with rapt attention by members, Modi said there was need to take bold decisions and also make small innovative changes at every level for the country to realise its potential.
Reaching out to minorities and underprivileged groups, particularly Dalits, tribals and Muslims, he said there was need for focused activity to improve their economic condition.
He said the conditions of Muslims has remained unchanged, alluding to the fact that nothing much has been done for these people despite all the talk by previous governments.
“I don’t see it as appeasement. A body is not healthy, if any of its part is not healthy,” he said with specific reference to the community for the first time.
Sending a strong message on the issue of women’s security, Modi said politicians should stop commenting frivolously on such incidents.
“I want to appeal to the politicians of the country, stop this psychological analysis of incidents of rape. It does not behove of you,” Modi said.
“They are playing with the dignity of our mothers and sisters. Such commentary is not appropriate at political level. The respect and security of women should be the concern of all 125 crore Indians,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments come on a day when Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil was reported as blaming “obscene advertisements” for rapes. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had also commented on the issue drawing criticism from women’s groups.
Referring to the speeches made during the two-day debate which lasted over 12 hours and saw participation of 52 members, Modi said there were many who had voiced doubts if the high promises spelt out in the president’s address, which outlines the government’s policy intentions, could be fulfilled.
Giving the example of his time as Gujarat chief minister, Modi said similar doubts had been expressed on his promise of providing 24-hour power supply across the state but he had fulfilled the promise.
“It is understood that people will have doubts… But I assure this house that the path mentioned by the president, we will leave no stone unturned to fulfil them.”
“For us, the president’s address is not just a tradition or ritual. Everything we said has a sanctity. It will be our endeavour to fulfill (the promises) and it will also inspire us to work.”
Modi began his speech by asking members to excuse him for any lapses he might make as he was new to the house. Modi said that MPs were “the repositories of the people’s hopes”.
Modi said that government’s target of providing houses for all by 2022, the 75th anniversary of country’s independence, should be a “movement” and every MP, irrespective of his or her party, should support it.
“Let it be a 10-12 year long programme… make it a movement. On 75 years of independence, we will remember all the great heroes of our country ,” he said.
Modi said Mahatma Gandhi had converted the urge for freedom among people into a people’s movement.
“There is need to make a people’s movement for good governance,” Modi said and added that everyone should feel that the task he or she was doing was “for the country.”
He also called for paying fitting tributes to Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary by inculcating the habit of cleanliness and making it a nation’s movement.
Dwelling on the need for realsing the country’s demographic dividend, he said country should pay attention to skill development as India was a young nation and 65 percent of the country was below the age of 35, but the majority lacked skills.
In a veiled attack on UPA government whose term in office was riddled by controversies related to corruption, Modi said India’s image has become synonymous with “scam-India.”
“We have to make India’s identity as skill India,” Modi said.
Modi also said women need to come to the mainstream of economic activities.
“Our mothers and sisters need to be connected with the mainstream from economic point of view,” he said.
Citing the example of Sikkim, which will soon become an organic state, Modi said the goal, if achieved, will transform the lives of those living in the hill states.
He said the whole of north-east India should be developed as an “organic state” to help the region prosper and capture the global market for organic products.
“There exists a massive demand for organic agricultural produce in the world today. A large section of the world’s population today is interested in holistic healthcare, and is willing to pay any amount of money for such organic products,” he said.
“If a small state like Sikkim can do it, why can’t we dream of developing the whole of north-east as an organic state? The government of India will help it in capturing the global market.”