By Narendra Modi on birthday of our beloved #Bapu
Today, we mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of our beloved Bapu. Mahatma Gandhi connected India, in letter and spirit, in thought and action. In the 21st century, the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi remain as essential as they were in his time, and offer solutions to several problems the world faces.
In a world where terrorism, radicalisation, extremism and mindless hate are dividing nations as well as societies, Mahatma Gandhi’s clarion call of peace and ahimsa have the power to unite humanity. At a time when inequalities are not uncommon, Bapu’s emphasis on equal and inclusive growth can herald an era of prosperity for the millions on the margins.
In an era where climate change and environmental degradation have become central issues of discussion, the world can refer to the thoughts of Gandhiji. Sometime back, a crisp, comprehensive and concise document penned by Mahatma Gandhi caught my attention. In 1941, Bapu wrote the ‘Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place’, which he subsequently modified in 1945 when there was renewed fervour around the freedom movement.
In that document, Bapu has talked about a wide range of topics ranging from rural development, strengthening agriculture, enhancing sanitation, promoting khadi, empowerment of women, economic equality among other issues. I would urge my fellow Indians to have a look at Gandhiji’s ‘Constructive Programme’ and make it a guiding light on how we can build the India of Bapu’s dreams.
Many topics in the ‘Constructive Programme’ are absolutely relevant today and GoI is fulfilling many of the points venerable Bapu raised seven decades ago but remain unfulfilled even today. One of the most beautiful aspects of Gandhiji’s personality was that he made every Indian feel that he or she is working for India’s freedom. He instilled the spirit of self-belief that a teacher, lawyer, doctor, farmer, labourer, entrepreneur, in whatever they were doing they were contributing to India’s freedom struggle. In the same light, today, let us embrace those aspects we think we can act upon that will fulfil Gandhiji’s vision. It can start with something as simple as ensuring zero waste of food to imbibing values of non-violence and togetherness.
The Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention is a milestone programme, which has brought together stakeholders from all over the world, adding strength to the movement towards global sanitation. #Gandhi150 pic.twitter.com/H8jolVpPLy
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 2, 2018
Almost eight decades ago, when the threats of pollution were not as much, Mahatma Gandhi took to cycling. Those in Ahmedabad recall Gandhiji cycling from Gujarat Vidyapith to Sabarmati Ashram. Despite a prosperous legal career in South Africa, Gandhiji would use the bicycle to travel in Johannesburg. It is said that when plague hit Johannesburg, he rushed to the worstaffected spot on a cycle and immersed himself in relief work. Can we emulate this same spirit today? Over the last four years, 130 crore Indians have paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in the form of the #Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
With the hard work of each and every Indian, SBM, which completes four years today, has emerged as a vibrant mass movement with commendable outcomes. A few days ago, a Divyang brother from Rajasthan called me during the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme. Not able to see from both eyes, he narrated how having his own toilet made an extremely positive difference in his life.
There are several Divyang sisters and brothers like him who have been saved from the inconvenience of going to public open-defecation spots. The blessings I received from him will remain etched in my memory. One of Bapu’s favourite hymns was ‘Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je peed parai janey re’ — a good soul is one who feels the pain of others. Today, we, 1.3 billion Indians, are committed to working together to fulfil the dreams Bapu saw for a country for which he gave his life.
The writer is Prime Minister of India.