August 2016 News

Mann Ki Baat: With 'Ekta, Mamata', PM Modi Reaches Out To Kashmir Valley

28 August 2016
The Indian Express
Anand Mishra

New Delhi: 'EKTA and Mamata', unity and compassion, were the twin themes of the political consensus on Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday. Elaborating on this new formulation in his Mann ki Baat radio address to the nation - days after he and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh echoed former PM A B Vapayee's mantra of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat for the Valley - Modi said that those who were provoking children to throw stones would have to answer these innocent boys some day. Any life lost in the Valley, he said, whether that of a protesting youth or of a security personnel, was a loss for the country. The Prime Minister's latest outreach came on a day when the J&K government decided to lift a 51-day curfew in the Valley from Monday, except in Pulwama town and a few areas of Srinagar. Modi, who met J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday and a delegation of Opposition leaders led by former CM Omar Abdullah last Monday, said, 'All political parties spoke in one voice on Kashmir, sending out a strong message to the world as well as separatists, and also expressed our sensitiveness towards the people of Kashmir. There was one common thread in my interaction with all parties on Kashmir. If I say it in a nutshell, Ekta (unity) and Mamata (compassion) were the crux of all interactions. This is the opinion of all of us, the 125 crore people of the country - from the village head to the Prime Minister - that any life lost in Kashmir, be it of any youth or security personnel, is our loss, the loss of the nation.' The Prime Minister also spoke on a range of issues in the course of his 35-minute address, including relations with Pakistan, the canonization of Mother Teresa, GST, Swachch Bharat, gas subsidy, floods, teacher-student relationships and sports in the context of India's performance at the Rio Olympics. Issuing a general appeal to people to strengthen the unity of the country, he said, 'This country is very big, full of diversities. To keep it united, it is the responsibility of all of us, as individual citizens, as a society and as a government, to strengthen our unity as much as we can, highlight it as much as we can. Only then can the nation achieve its bright future. I have confidence in the power of 125 crore people of the country.' Days after raising issues of human rights violations in Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK, the Prime Minister on Sunday made no mention of Pakistan, but said that India had always made sincere efforts to strengthen its relations with its neighbours. 'India's attempts from the very outset have been that our relationship with our neighbours should be deep, warm and lively,' he said, citing as an example the launch of Akashvani Maitri channel in collaboration with Bangladesh Betar. The sharing of content would deepen the connection between India and Bangladesh, he said. The PM also hailed Mother Teresa, saying her work for the poor of India would always be remembered. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would lead a 12-member delegation for her canonisation ceremony at the Vatican next month, he said. 'It is a matter of pride for us that Mother Teresa will be granted sainthood on September 4. Mother Teresa dedicated her entire life to the service of the poor of India. It is natural for Indians to feel proud when a person who has dedicated her whole life to serve the poor in India gets sainthood,' the PM said. 'Government will send a delegation led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on this occasion. We learn a lot from saints and great leaders. We will always be learning from them ways to do good for society,' he said. The PM also referred to the Ganesh Utsav started by Lokmanya Tilak, and called for the need to move from Swarajya to Suraj (from self governance to good governance). He also asked people to eschew plaster of paris idols and go instead for environment-friendly clay idols for the coming Durga Puja. Speaking on his pet scheme of cleaning the Ganga, Modi congratulated the chief ministers who took a pledge in Allahabad recently not to spoil the holy river and to keep it clean. He also shared a story on a campaign for toilets by students in Chhattisgarh, and a satyagrah by a girl in Karnataka. To promote cleanliness, he asked people to make 2-3 minute films on Clean India, and enter them in a competition to show their creativity. On the gas subsidy issue, the Prime Minister recounted how he had got a letter from an 84-year-old woman who had not only given up subsidy on LPG on his appeal, but had also sent a donation of Rs 50,000 to save poor women from polluting chulhas. On the flood situation, the PM said people, the affected states and the Centre had tried to do their level best to tackle the situation collectively. Referring to the passage of the key economic reform measure GST in Parliament's Monsoon Session, Modi said it demonstrated the country's unity of vision. 'We learnt the lesson of unity through passing the historic GST bill,' he said, adding that great things could be achieved if people achieved consensus over an issue.