Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
11-April-2015 18:05 IST
English Rendering of the Text of PM's remarks at Community Reception in Paris

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Your zeal and enthusiasm when watched on TV will bring in a sense of pride among the Indians back home. The zeal of Indians living in France hundreds of miles away enthralls 125 crore Indians and happiness and excitement prevails in India as well. That is why I would like to applaud you. I want to thank you. I arrived here day before yesterday. It is almost like the last public program here after which I will fly to Germany. I have visited France earlier as a tourist. But today, I am here to invite the tourists present here to India. Earlier I visited out of curiosity, I wanted to see and explore what France is like. Today I have come, with a dream that sometime India may be ahead of France.

Today I went to the monument celebrating those brave men who sacrificed their lives. I do not know if anyone had visited that place before me. Had I not been there, it would have left a sense of void and a pain in my heart. The world is not aware but India is considered a land of sacrifice and penance. When that sacrifice and penance become a part of the history, it fills one with pride. I experienced the same when I visited the place. It made me feel proud about the rich legacy that our ancestors have left us. Anyone can fight for his kin or himself, there are many people of this kind. But there are some who would die for others, this one can understand only after revisiting the events of the World War I. This is the centenary year of the World War I. A hundred years ago carnage took place. All those memories need to be revisited from a historical point of view. How terrible war is! And what about its  implications for humanity. Hence this centenary year should be marked with a resolve to create a war free world for humanity. In India too, we are not told the details of the sacrifice of our ancestors. Sometimes the history itself is forgotten. A society that forgets history loses the power to create history. Only those can create history who know and understand it.

The world needs to understand that in World War I, 14 lakh jawans put their lives at stake. They entered the warfield.  The war lasted for four years. These soldiers were completely unaware what other people would be like, what would the weather be, what their nature would be like, what kind of water or food habits the people would have. They knew nothing yet they were fighting for someone. They were not fighting for themselves, it was not as if India wanted to access some territories, nor that India wanted to emerge victorious, that is never seen in Indian history. Our history dates  back to thousands of years, but we have never been ivaders. We fought shoulder to shoulder with the people of France. If you were to see the picture of those times, I have tweeted a few of the images today. In those pictures one can see a French woman welcoming the Indian soldiers with flowers when they came here for war. I have tweeted today the images of that time. Just imagine, that 14 lakh soldiers come out to sacrifice their lives. Almost 75,000 Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in World War I. This is not a small number.  The martyrdom of 75,000 soldiers! And 11 of them were the recipients of the highest award- the Victoria Cross for their bravery establishing the highest standards of sacrifice. Out of these, 9000 people laid down their lives in France. The memorial has been erected in their honour and I had gone to pay my tributes. I had gone to seek the blessings of those brave souls and wanted to send a message that the global community should try to understand India and changes its perception about how it views India. What a country it is! It sacrifices not for itself but others and that too in such huge numbers.  Not only this , India has made its presence felt in peace keeping operations across the world. It gives me immense pride to state that India has been the largest contributor to the UN peace keeping force and our soldiers are the ones praised the most for their discipline,  bravery, and their intelligence.  India has never attacked any other country in its history spanning hundreds of years, its  soldiers sacrifice their lives in large numbers in the first and the second World Wars, and  it has sent the largest number of soldiers in the peace keeping operations across the globe,  always been making efforts to secure peace in the world. The world owes a lot to India but it has yet to get its due recognition. A nation which works for world peace and the one whose soldiers are ready to die and sacrifice for peace is still yearning for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

I would request the world that this centenary year of the World War I, is an opportunity to honour the peacemakers. It is an opportunity to grant the right to the land of Gandhi and Buddha. Those days are long gone where India would beg. This nation demands its right. No one can have a better moral authority than the people from the land of Gandhi and Buddha to give the message of world peace. I believe that when U.N celebrated its 70 years, it will reconsider all these facts. So I went to the memorial especially to pay respect to those brave people and give a message to the world that we can sacrifice ourselves for peace and the world should be aware of it.

Today, I am delivering this speech in front of you in France, but I have been told that many miles away,  there is a small island where small Indian population resides with the French people. People have gathered in Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin; almost 2.5 lakh Indians live there. I send my greetings to all of you sitting in those far off places.  I am aware that those present here might understand Hindi and are proud to be Indians, but are not aware much of any language other than French. A simultaneous translation in French language is going on, so those on the far off island can hear this speech in French.  I applaud all those Indians for participating in that program. I want to assure you that if you do not understand Hindi, you have been out of India for very long, the colour of your passport has changed, but the colour of our blood still remains the same. India does not worry about you based on the colour of your passport, but it worries for you because of the same DNA, this I assure you. And we have made a good beginning about it. We are celebrating the Prawasi Bhartiya Diwas. This year it is special for it marks the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915. It was organized in Gujarat, the place he returned to and started the freedom movement.  This time it was special because a separate program was conducted for the French Speaking people.  Separate consultations were held with them. We tried to understand their issues separately and efforts are being made to find solutions.

I know that there are certain professionals who have just arrived in France. They know many Indian languages and India also very well. Some people have arrived before them especially the people from Pondicherry and are more connected with the people here. But some have arrived even before that. They do not have even the documents. When did they arrive, how did they arrive, where they stayed, no one knows.  All they know is that they are Indians and for us that is enough. I would want to reconnect with those people. Sometimes when we leave behind our land, our language and traditions, the name changes- then after a few centuries the future generations find problems in getting associated with.  They fail to understand who they are and why does no one accept them.  The people here do not accept you to be one among them and you cannot say which place you belong to.  I am witness to one such incident.  The West Indies team was in Gujarat for cricket matches. In those days we did not have any mobile phones etc. A gentleman called me. I  was living in RSS headquarters and got a call that the manager of the West Indies Cricket team wants to meet me. I was very surprised. I was a just a commoner….I am narrating you an incident some 30 years ago. In those days it was a rare privilege to shake hands with cricketers and it was considered lucky. I instantly contacted him. He said- My name is Rikhi, I have come from West Indies and a person in West Indies gave your reference to me.  I said fine, I will come and meet you.  When he said Rikhi, I could not understand who he is, which tradition he belonged to or which society he came from.  When I went I saw that he looked very much Indian and his wife too was clad in a saree. I said “You are Rikhi’. He said “I do not know how I got this name, but my wife’s name is Sita. Our ancestors  came to West Indies some 50-200 years ago, so possibly my name can be Rishi. It got distorted as Rikhi, I work in the education department there and have come here as team manager. Well the next day I accorded him a warm welcome as per Vedic traditions.  At that time it struck me that it is very difficult for those who get disconnected from the basic culture and traditions. Now if you go to Mauritius you don’t encounter much problem. Those who went to Mauritius carried the Hanuman Chalisa and the Ramayana by Tulsidas and hence they remained connected with India. They kept reciting these texts and hence could understand the language. But if you go towards West Indies, Guyana etc, the people there have forgotten the language, as the language did not reach there.  There is some connectivity due to English. But you are not even that fortunate.  Hence those who reconnect with this heritage should maintain some contact.

I urge all the interested families that now it’s the age of Internet and social media. I too am easily available. If you write in this context to the Indian government, if you send a letter on my website, then I will make all efforts to connect you to India or any of its state based on your language or traditions. We will make all efforts because I want that these relationships be established.  When asked, I was told that the people here watch Indian movies but cannot understand without French sub titles. Once I was travelling to Caribbean countries. The day I reached there, a death occurred in the family of one of the persons of  Indian origin. The people I was supposed to stay with, did not come to pick me up from the airport. Someone else came, so I asked what happened. He said that there was a death in one of the acquaintances family, so my hosts went there. So I said “Fine, I too will go there. The cremation arrangements were being made.  They wanted the cremation as per the Indian tradition, the family members were crying and a Hindi movie song was playing. The song being played was in 180 degree contrast to the incident. It was completely unrelated to death and mourning.  It was a sad song so they thought it would be correct to play it here. That time there were no videos. But I thought that Hindi songs should be translated in the local language so the people could understand their meaning. There was no connect of the song with the incident. They were following Indian traditions but the link had been severed. This in itself is very difficult task. I understand that you have the same difficulty as is experienced in the Caribbean region. I believe that we should work together to resolve those issues.  I assure you that we will do whatever we can to deepen our bonds, to simplify our relationship not just for now but for future generations. Especially the people on the islands who are hearing us, they have the maximum problem. People living in big countries do not have much problem, but those residing on smaller islands, I will make special efforts to help them in any way that I can.

You saw that elections were held in India last year. The elections were being held in India but you all were waiting for the results. You were bursting crackers here. Sweets were being distributed here.  This happiness expressed by you is borne out of expectations. I want to assure you that the expectations with which the citizens of India have chosen us to govern, in my experience of past 10 months I can say that we will fulfill all those. I can say based on my experience we can tackle the challenges. I have a firm belief that there is no reason for India to be poor.

Swami Vivekananda said “I can see that my motherland India will once again be restored as a  guru / teacher to the world . I believe in the principles of Vivekananda. Vivekananda Ji visited France in 1985 and then again in 1900.  He came twice and said something very important that France holds the reigns of European culture. He presented the analogy that the way Ganga is identified from Gomukh, similarly the European culture is identifiable with France.  Mahatma Gandhi visited  France in 1931 and many of our freedom fighters like Madam Cama, Shyam Ji Krishan Verma and others lived here. The first ever tricolor was manufactured in France and it was hoisted in Germany.

Madam Cama , Sardar Sri Rana and Shyam ji Krishan Verma was the trio spearheading the freedom movement at that time.   I am proud that as the Chief Minister of Gujarat I had the great fortune of undertaking a huge task. There are many good tasks left and I am destined to fulfill those. Shyam Ji Krishan Verma strove hard for freedom movement in India and to keep the  revolutionary streak alive amongst Indians. He constructed India House in London right under the nose of the Britishers. He would give scholarships and call up the revolutionaries like Veer Savarkar and mentor them. His was a great contribution. He passed away in 1930. He was a stalwart of the freedom struggle. He wrote a letter that his ashes be kept safely after his demise. I could not see an Independent India in my lifetime, but whenever India becomes free my ashes be taken there. Just see , how the minds of the patriots work. I became the Chief Minister of Gujarat and started the paper work in 2001, I wrote to Swiss government, Indian government and to authorities in Geneva. In  2003. I got the permission. I came 70 years after his death and his ashes were still kept. I salute the foreigners for this. These ashes should have arrived the very next day of India’s independence on 15th August. But perhaps it was forgotten. Maybe I was destined to undertake this pious task. So I came here, and took the ashes back to Katch Mandvi which is his birthplace. We have created a replica of India House and made it into his memorial. Anytime you visit Katch do visit the memorial and pay your respects. What I want to imply that France has been a witness to our efforts and endeavors for the freedom struggle of India.

India and France have a special bond. These days that any mishap that happens in France, even the terrorist attacks, pains entire India and if any injustice is met out to India, France is the first one to raise its voice. This is the kind of bond we share. Since yesterday we have made many important decisions, there have been many deals, important deals in defence sector and important deals for development have been signed. In India I am currently running a campaign called “Make In India”. I have spoken  about “Make in India” on most of the occasions in these past few days. Every French leader said it almost 25 times. The French President here talks about “Make in India” in every third line. That means our thought has been conveyed in the right words. Everyone realizes it since  India has taken certain important initiatives. We have opened up insurance sector to 49% for FDI and we are opening the railways 100% for the FDI. France will lay a major role for defence. India today has the workforce. I visited the airbus plant today and found out that most of the workers were Indians. I said in India you work in bus, whereas here you work in Airbus. India has ample opportunities and whatever that is best in the world should be present on the Indian Soil. W should go even beyond that. These kinds of agreements were inked with France this time.

There was a time when we would describe railways as a force that connected India. But I believe that a railway has the power not just to connect India but to drive India forward.  But the precondition is that railways be modernized. We need to upgrade technology, increase speed and expand it. France has the technological expertise. Yesterday I met the railway officials here. I have invited them saying that India has several opportunities and in our county rail lines pass through the heart of the city. Railway lines cross the most premium land. I said that the rail can run on tracks whereas you undertake construction above it. Erect seven storied buildings above it. There can be malls and hotels above them. See how huge it can be, a whole city can be erected on Indian railway stations.  We have stations extending upto 20 kms. I told them that our railways is so huge that at any point of time passengers equivalent to 20% French population are travelling in a go.

The world is still not aware of the enormity of India, leave apart its potential.  We are making efforts that they know us and acknowledge us. And I am sure my friends, that day is not far when they will know us and acknowledge us too.  These days there are numerous parameters of economic development. Based on those parameters the world is saying that the Indian economy is the world’s fastest moving economy. You can see the records of the World Bank or the IMF. Just now Moody and not Modi has expressed the same.  Every single parameter indicates that India is fastest moving economy. Then I ask the world what are you waiting for? The opportunities are ripe and we are trying that the world vies for these opportunities. People from all over the world come to India expressing a desire to do something.  Come, we will give opportunities to all. We will surge ahead and you march forward too. There are numerous possibilities for development.  At the heart of this development is the foreign direct investment. There should be works in Indian railways, warships should be manufactured in India, submarines be manufactured here and equipments for health care sector too should be manufactured in India. We want to do all these works in India? Why? The main reason is that I wish that Indians find job on the Indian soil itself. They get job according to their capabilities and potential. I don’t want that the Indian youth leave their aged parents or their villages in search for a job. We want to create such a country where we achieve the welfare of the poorest of the poor. There should be development focusing on the employment of the youth.

I was explaining the company owners here. I said you might be getting huge incentives all over the world to establish factories, but after 20 years you will not find any manpower to do the work. The entire world is ageing. India alone is the youngest nation in the world.65% population is below 35. After 20 years India will be the only place to meet  the global work force requirements .The biggest industrialists of the world, whichever corner of the world they establish a plant in, the day is not far when they will have to come to India scouting for work force. So I am explaining them that instead of coming 20 years down the line, why not come now instead? If we are able to nurture the workforce according to your requirement then they can  take charge of a similar plant at some other place on the earth. We have the demographic dividend which is our greatest strength.

India and France are connected because of the common democratic values. The likes of us born on the land of Buddha and Mahatma live by one mantra and that is “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam” Meaning the whole world is a family. It is our culture …….to treat the entire world as a family. We consider all others to be our own and no one is a stranger to us. The same sentiments echo in the soil of France which has followed the principles of freedom and equality. Both the countries share the same values so both can achieve a lot together. This is our core strength on which we will move forward.

This time an important decision has been made. The youth of India who come here to study have to leave after the completion of the course. Now those days are over. Now you can stay here if you like. You will get some time to stay post the completion of your course. The French government has acknowledged that it will be a huge opportunity for the students who come here to study. This time can be utilized to build experience and practice whatever has been learnt, to earn a livelihood, to cover the study expenses so that they can bail out the loans. I understand that this will benefit a lot in the coming days. So we have to embark on new heights of success. Our Indian brethren living all over the world, well their potential needs to be capitalized and they also have to be provided security. We will have to use our clout meticulously to enhance their prestige. We are working in that direction and we have the world support in this endeavour.

In the past few days certain such incidents have taken place in India which are generally not thought of  India. We are not able to believe when we hear about such things. Someone with a bitter past experience is very cautious the next time.  We have heard so many bad things that it takes a while to believe that something good is actually happening. You must have recently heard about the coal deals, you understand what I am talking about. Everyone knows what happened. But how it happened we are still not aware. See, I have to interact with you to convey some good things that are happening. 204 coal mines were allocated just like that. “Ok you have come, take my pen, you can take my handkerchief and you can have some papers if that is what you want.  Even if you give your pen to someone you think twice. But here 204 coal mines were allotted just like that without any consideration. There was no one to question it. So a controversy arose, court cases were filed indicting even the then Prime Minister. A lot happened. I do not wish to discuss all that nor I am here to criticize anyone. But the Supreme Court took a stand. But to our misfortune it happened after we took charge. In September the court ruled that coal extraction cannot happen from these 204 mines.  Now if coal supply is stooped how will we get power . If there is no power how will the industries run? If there is no electricity how will the children study? The conditions were such; it felt there will soon be darkness everywhere. The Supreme Court said though you are new, we are not ready to hear any excuses. You have to do whatever you can by 31st March. From 1st April onwards you will not be able to extract even a gram of coal. We were new, but when one is thrown into a crises situation, a new energy rises within. I was wondering what will happen to my country from 1st April; vehicles will stop, no electricity, factories will shut down, people will become unemployed there will be darkness and the children will be unable to study. Do we see the nation being ruined while waiting till 1st April. We started working hard from September and tried to find new avenues.  Before 31st March we did the primary formalities. Earlier they were given for free, given away just like that. We decided to auction it. The CAG report indicated the coal scam to be worth 1,76,000 crores.  When these statistics were published in the newspapers nobody would believe that something of such magnitude can happen. We would also quote the CAG, but were ourselves not sure of the numbers. We auctioned 20 mines out of the 204. We have obtained 2 lakh crores by the auction of just 20 mines. For 204 mines the losses were estimated at 76,000 crores. Till now, only 10% have been auctioned and we have received 2 lakh crore rupees. If any government had achieved the same feat in its entire tenure the country would have given the reigns of governance in its hands for the next 25 years. Such a big job was accomplished. Those who were allocated free of cost were now having problems because they have to now pay from their pockets. This money is now in the government coffers.  But it will not remain with Central government; rather it has been passed onto the state governments. The states have been asked to utilize the money in creating infrastructure to fight poverty. Industries have to be established, improvement in education and access to better healthcare have to be pursued by the states. They are being pressurized to do these tasks. Which states are these which have been given money? Gujarat does not have coal mines. If I had given the money there, the newspapers would write that I am giving the money to states because Gujarat has coal mines. Gujarat does not produce even a gram of coal. This money is being sent to Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. It will go to those states which have development potential but are currently lacking behind. I have to bring them forward.

If you were to see the eastern coast of India, you will realize its backward. The west coast including Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat or Haryana, things seem to be happening here.  But seeing eastern end we wonder when will it develop.  My first intention is to develop eastern coast at par with the western one. You will see that the east will march ahead of the west, it has such a potential.  The entire natural resource reserves are located in the east. If they start on the developmental journey, then there is no stopping them. What I am saying friends is that the nation is now scaling new heights of progress.

We started the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana campaign. I started it on 15th August and wanted it to finish by 26th January.  The poorest of the poor in India should have a bank account. Banking system is the mainstream of today’s finance and no one should remain deprived of it. I can say it with immense pride that the nation completed this task in 150 days. Almost 14 crore new accounts were opened. !4 crore accounts, that is probably more than the population of France. Just see, if we decide, anything can be accomplished. After that we focused on the gas cylinders which are available for domestic use on subsidy. This subsidy was given by the government. We decided to transfer this subsidy directly into the accounts.  You can understand that we did so because earlier it would get siphoned. It is the largest event in the world, the transfer of subsidy in the accounts of 13 crore people. As a result there are no middlemen now, the leakages have stopped , there is no corruption and the common man has benefitted too.

These are such times when nobody is ready to give away easily. No one does so.  During the Indo Pak war Shastri ji had asked the people of India to give up one meal, once a week. He asked that on a Monday, eat just once and not twice. And people from that generation might be remembering that the nation had indeed given up one meal. Why? Because the nation was at war and we had to save the food supplies.  The nation trusted the words of Lal Bahadur Shastri and gave up their meals. I thought that the people of the country have an amazing power. We should trust the citizens of India. And so I just mentioned casually. I said that should the people who can afford be availing subsidy? This 200-400 rupees is not a big deal. I just said this casually and I saw around 2 lakh people voluntarily gave up the gas subsidy.  This gave us even more courage. I said “ see the country is just the same as it was during Shastriji’s time. So then I publicly said that ‘ if you are prosperous and can afford a gas , then please give up the subsidy . Day before yesterday I was told that around 3.5 lakh people had given up their subsidy. So we saved a lot of money. What was to be done with it. We decided to not deposit it in the exchequer but to transfer it to a family where the meals are prepared on wood fire ovens; families where there is lot of smoke and the children cry because of it and the mother of the house falls ill.

The world is worried about Climate Change. The solutions of Climate Change problems are here itself. The solution to Global warming lies here. Deforestation will stop when people stop using wood to cook. Then the smoke too will cease and we can develop smoke free systems. We took help from the prosperous and transferred it to the needy. Its been just a week of the request and already 3.5 lakh people have chipped in and surrendered their subsidy.  All I want to say is that within or outside India, each Indian nurtures the zeal that something needs to be done for the country. The nation is moving ahead with such dreams.

I once again assure you my countrymen that India is standing tall today with all its might. The nation has decided to develop speedily. The decisions taken in the past few days have all been proven to be right. Based on this I say that in front of your very own eyes you will see India of your dreams. My best wishes to you all.

I am humbled by  your love, affection and your presence here in large numbers. I send my greetings to the fellow countrymen residing on those islands.  My best wishes to you all. Raise both your hands and join me in saying “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!’ “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!’ “ Bharat Mata Ki Jai !’

Thank You very much.