Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extolled the virtues of river conservation and greeted the nation on World Rivers Day today. Addressing the nation in his Mann Ki Baat programme on All India Radio, the Prime Minister said World Rivers Day is in sync with traditions that the people of the nation have been following for centuries. He highlighted that rivers do not drink their own water but give away selflessly to others. He drove home the point that rivers are not just mere physical entities but akin to a life giving Mother.
In the very banks of these rivers, numerous festivals, occasions and functions are held by people. With the advent of the month of Magh, people perform Kalpvaas on the banks of river Ganga or other rivers for an entire month. Mr Modi said people used to remember the different names of rivers while taking bath in earlier times. He said it was a way to instill values among people.
The Prime Minister said it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that rivers do not get polluted. He said scriptures distinctly disapprove of polluting rivers, a fact which is reflected in Indian traditions as well. The western region of India, especially Gujarat and Rajasthan, suffer from scarcity of water and face famines often. Mr Modi said this has led to new traditions. He gave the example of Gujarat where Jal-Jeelani Ekadashi is celebrated during the rains. He said Jal Jeelani is similar to ‘Catch the Rain’ as each and every drop of rain is collected. Mr Modi added that Chhatth festival is celebrated in Bihar and other regions of the East on similar lines. He hoped that keeping Chatth Pooja in mind, preparations for cleaning and repairing riverbanks and ghats would have commenced.
The Prime Minister stressed that the endeavour of cleaning rivers can be undertaken with collective effort and support. He said public awareness and mass movement have a major role to play in keeping rivers clean.
The Prime Minister drew people’s attention to the special E-auction being held of gifts presented to him by people. The money that accrues through this E-auction is dedicated solely to the Namami Gange Campaign. Mr Modi mentioned how the Naagnadi river that flows through Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts of Tamilnadu had dried up. The womenfolk of the region took up cudgels to rejuvenate the river. Canals were dug up through public participation, and check dams and recharge-wells were built. The Prime Minister happily noted that today, the river is brimming with water.
Mr Modi also gave the example of Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat which had dried up in the last few decades. He said that the river has now been rejuvenated following the linking of river Narmada and river Sabarmati. The Prime Minister praised all the people who have dedicated themselves to rejuvenation of rivers. He also said that River Festivals must be held at least once a year on the banks of the rivers.
Touching on the topic of cleanliness, Prime Minister Modi said it was Mahatma Gandhi who turned cleanliness into a mass movement. He said today’s youth should be aware of how the campaign for cleanliness continuously gave energy to the nation’s freedom movement. Mr Modi stated that Mahatma Gandhi had connected cleanliness to Independence back then and now, the cleanliness movement has once again connected the country to the dream of a new India. Mr Modi said cleanliness is not just the responsibility of one government or the next, but a practice that should continue from generation to generation. He emphasised that cleanliness is a great tribute by this country to the revered Mahatma Gandhi and this is a tribute that must be paid year after year.
The Prime Minister spoke about Mann Ki Baat’s listener, Ramesh Patel, who wrote to him saying the nation should take the resolve of economic cleanliness as well to mark the Amrit Mahotsav. Mr Modi said economic cleanliness ensures rights of the poor and eases their life. He said due to the Jan Dhan scheme, rightful money of the poor is getting credited directly into their accounts and corruption has significantly reduced. The Prime Minister expressed delight that even in villages, the common person is now capable of digital transactions through fin-tech UPI. He said it is a matter of pride that 355 crore UPI transactions took place in the month of August this year.
He added that today, on average digital payments of more than two lakh crore rupees are taking place through UPI. He said the economy of the country is thereby acquiring cleanliness and transparency, and now everyone knows the importance of fin-tech.
Prime Minister Modi expressed satisfaction that as the nation is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence, the young generation is giving Khadi the place of pride that it had during the freedom struggle. Production of Khadi and handloom has increased multiple times as well as its demand. There were many times when the Khadi India showroom in Delhi did business of more than crore rupees. Mr Modi said people should aim to create another record on this 2nd of October, which is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He said doing so would also be a push for Vocal for Local.
A campaign to disseminate the untold stories of freedom is also going on during Amrit Mahotsav. Upcoming young writers were called upon for the campaign. Mr Modi stated that more than 13 thousand people have registered for this till now in 14 different languages. He said it is a matter of joy that non-resident Indians from more than 20 countries have expressed their wish to join this campaign. He added that more than 5000 upcoming writers are researching lesser known tales of struggle for freedom.
Prime Minister Modi hailed a team of 8 Divyang persons who created a world record by hoisting the flag on the Kumar Post situated at an altitude of more than 15 thousand feet at the Siachen glacier. He said the feat that the Divyangs have achieved is an inspiration for the whole country. This operation to conquer the Siachen Glacier was aided by the veterans of the special forces of the Indian Army. Mr Modi commended the team for this historic and unprecedented achievement. He said it also shows the spirit of countrymen to tackle every challenge with a “Can Do Culture”, a “Can Do Determination” and a “Can Do Attitude”.
He said many efforts are being made for the welfare of Divyangjan in the country. He cited one such example from Uttar Pradesh – “One Teacher, One Call”. This unique effort in Bareilly is being led by the principal of a school in Dabhaura Gangapur, Deepmala Pandey. During the COVID period, admission of a large number of children became possible due to this initiative under which teachers go from village to village ensuring admission of Divyang children in schools. Mr Modi expressed deep appreciation for this noble effort of Deepmala and her fellow teachers for the sake of Divyangjans.
The Prime Minister said there has been an increase in curiosity and awareness about Healthcare and Wellness during this COVID period. He said natural products which are beneficial for wellness and health are available in abundance in the country. He urged scientists, researchers and people associated with Startups to pay attention to such products, which not only increase the wellness and immunity of the people, but also help in increasing the income of farmers and youth.
Mr Modi mentioned Patayat Sahu from Nandol, Kalahandi, Odisha, who has been doing unique work in this area for years. He planted medicinal plants on one and a half acres of land and carried out documentation of these medicinal plants. The Prime Minister also gave the example of an Aloe Vera Village in Jharkhand. The women of Deori village near Ranchi had undergone training in Aloe Vera cultivation from Birsa Agricultural School following which they started cultivating aloe vera. Mr Modi said that this led to benefits in the field of health as well as increased income. One of the major reasons for this was that the companies making sanitizers were buying Aloe Vera directly from them. Today a team of about forty women is involved in this work.
The Prime Minister said the 2nd of October also marks the birth anniversary of Lal Bahadur Shastri. He said this day also teaches about those who attempt new experiments in agriculture. To promote start-ups in the field of medicinal plants, an Incubator by the name of Medi-Hub TBI is operational in Anand, Gujarat. In a very short time, this Incubator associated with medicinal and aromatic plants, has supported the business idea of 15 entrepreneurs. Sudha Chebrolu launched her start-up after getting the help of this Incubator.
Mr Modi said priority is given to women in this company and they are also responsible for innovative herbal formulations. Another such entrepreneur – Subhashree – also received help from this Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Incubator. Her company is working in the field of herbal room and car fresheners. She has also created a herbal terrace garden which has more than 400 medicinal herbs.
The Prime Minister was pleased to note that the Ayush Ministry has taken an interesting initiative to increase awareness about Medicinal and Herbal Plants among children. He said a comic book by the name of Professor Ayushman has been brought out which contains short stories through different cartoon characters. The usefulness of healthy medicinal plants like Aloe Vera, Tulsi, Amla, Giloy, Neem, Ashwagandha and Brahmi has been mentioned in the comic.
Mr Modi stated that novel initiatives and options are being done in agriculture which are in turn creating new means of self-employment. He gave the example of two brothers from Pulwama – Bilal Ahmed Sheikh and Munir Ahmed Sheikh who launched a start-up in agriculture. Bilal installed a unit of Vermi composting at his home. The bio-fertilizer prepared from this unit has not only benefited a lot in agriculture but has also brought employment opportunities to the people.
The Prime Minister said 25th September is the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay who is one of the greatest thinkers of the last century. His economic philosophy, policies aimed at empowering the society, the path of Antyodaya shown by him remain relevant in the present context. Mr Modi said the Ayushman Bharat scheme was implemented three years ago, on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
Today, more than 2.5 crore people have received free treatment up to 5 lakh rupees in the hospital under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Mr Modi said such a massive scheme for the poor is dedicated to the Antyodaya philosophy of Deen Dayal Upadhyay. He urged the youth to learn about the great personality as they can learn many things from the life of Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
The Prime Minister asked the people to follow necessary protocols during the upcoming festive season and keep in mind that the fight against COVID is not won yet. He said the country has made many records for its COVID vaccination programme. He reminded that every Indian has an important role in this fight against COVID and urged people to get the vaccine shots when their turn comes.