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Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
18-May-2015 18:10 IST
English Rendering of the Text of PM’s address at the Indian Community Reception in South Korea

Namaste,

Namaste,

I took leave from both China and Mangolia after meeting the Indian Community, but arriving in  Korea, I decided to meet you all first and then do the other tasks. Rabindra Nath Tagore had declared Korea as the Lamp of the East. No one can imagine the depth of the words that come out of the mouth of visionaries and saints, nor can one fathom the sentences that flow out of their pen. The time period was 1925-30. And that time the condition of Korea, Korea’s progress was not the same as it is now. The people of Korea themselves describe how Korea was around 30 years ago. But around 80-90 years back when Rabindra Nath Tagore visited Korea, he realized that it will be the Lamp of The East. It is one of the luminous and fiery Stars of the East. The people of Korea proved Rabindra Nath Tagore’s words to be true by their hard work and efforts.

One of the most important components of my governments Foreign Policy is the Act East Policy which was initially the look East Policy. We have seen a lot. Now we see that this region and the neighbouring countries are developing fast. At the beginning of the 21st Century people would say that the Sun has risen for India and that India will play a major role in the world.

The economists of the world gave a new terminology –BRICS; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They said that the BRICS Group and its economic activities will drive the economic activities of the world. It will continue to shadow the world economics. This was said at the end of 20th and the beginning of 21st Century.

Over the past 10-15 years, the world opinion changed and the economists changed their tone. They were now skeptical about the BRICS. They were no longer sure about India in the BRICS group. They felt that India was sliding downwards. Everywhere there was worry because BRICS was unable to deliver the dream that the world nurtured to drive their economy. The dream was sliding down. Why? Because the “I” was sliding down.

However, in the past one year , not only the tone but also the perception of the world has changed too.  Now the world believes that BRICS cannot survive without the “I”. The various Global Rating Institutions – be it the World Bank, or IMF  or a rating agency like the Moody’s – at various forums in different places in the world , it has been reiterated again and again that India is one of the fastest growing economies. It’s the fastest growing economy of the world. The century belongs to Asia. We would wonder about our position in the century that belonged to Asia. But the way India is rising, undoubtedly the 21st century will belong to Asia.

One thing is for sure, you have come from India as professionals. Someone must have come five years ago and some ten. The Indian community in Korea is small. Most of the people would know each other by name, by the common village they hail from. It’s a small close knit family. But the excitement of this small family is clearly palpable. It makes me feel that the technological revolution that you have seen here in Korea, you want the same to happen in India. You want the same or not? It should be done or not? How will it happen without you?  Your experience, your knowledge, the opportunities that you got here – when that all gets associated with India, India will find it easy to move forward.

There was a time when people would say that one must have sinned in past life to be born in India. It’s a hopeless country, a hopeless government. It’s better to leave it and go to some other country. And people left. In some years we had seen that even the industrialists no longer wanted to do business here and wanted to leave. And most of them had already made plans.  I don’t want to delve in the reasons for this. Nor I want to make any political statements. But it is in fact a reality that people had a kind of anger and disappointment. And today I can say it with complete faith that people from various spheres of life, even the great scientists who earn big in the west , are glad and excited to come back to India even at a very low salary .

As I was saying this I could hear voices saying that they are ready to come. And what after all is the country. The country is neither the government, nor it is Modi. It is the zeal of 125 crore Indians that make India.  And you just imagine! You are among the first generation here and you still have a family back home. The village, the fields, the roads and lanes, the flat, the university, and those friends- are still all there. Your friendship might still be going on face book and twitter. But how are bonds formed.

Can you imagine, centuries ago, some girl from Ayodhya got married and came to Korea?  Centuries have passed. Surya ratna was married to Kim Suro here.  A girl from Ayodhya’s royal family got married here. And there are many families in Korea which still have the name Kim. And all those, who are in lakhs feel proud of their Indian, connect. Centuries ago, a princess came here and got married and for centuries that family kept on expanding. And after so many centuries people with the surname Kim feel associated with India. We have just arrived. So our love for India and concern for its development is still intact. If anything goes wrong in India you are equally worried like those who are witnessing it firsthand.  It is this concern which is India’s power.

Sometimes many a things happen, which are not visible to us who are staying there. But you can easily see those things here. If we sit and watch a match in a stadium one is not very clearly able to pay attention where the ball is moving and where the player is. But those who watch on TV know where the player is and where the ball is. Similarly, sitting here far away you to know whatever is happening in India, how it is happening? And now the world of communication is so enhanced that you are aware of the happenings in every corner of the world. And we would like to think that there has been a significant change in your thinking since you came here to Korea. When you were there you would be engulfed in the issues there and coming here you must have realized that all of us have problems. Didn’t Korea have problems some 30 years back? Don’t the countries that have won independence some 30-40 years back have any issues? Each one had a problem, but when the countries decided to do something, they sought solutions to those issues and walked determinedly on those chosen paths.  The problems were resolved and it attained new heights of success.

Today, China has attained such a fast growth rate, what is the reason behind it? Continuously for the past 30 years, its growth rate has been almost 10 % or close to 9-10 %. This development changed China’s life and thought forever. Korea! It is a changed country in the past 30-35 years. And so I have this faith. I know it. To connect the 125 crore Indians for this same cause it is a difficult task. But I am not those who does something easy. I believe in writing on stone and leaving an indelible mark.

I have found a solution to this and I am working on that solution. The name of this solution is –development. The solution to all our problems is development. Education, basic health care needs to be provided to the poorest of the poor.  They all need to be provided with permanent shelters- and this all is not possible without development. And hence we are most focused on development. And as a result of this approach in the past year we are the nation clocking the highest growth rate in the world. And development for me does not translate into big roads or high buildings. That’s not my perspective. For me, I want to change the quality of life of the common man.

Now I am continuously pursuing the need for toilet in every home. Why should the women of the house go outside to defecate even in the 21st century? Does it look good? So I am pursuing it, explaining everyone and requesting everyone that they should have a toilet in their homes. People understand it and they will do it. But is the job difficult or not. A task that could not be accomplished for centuries is it difficult or not? But then, should it be done or not? Even if it is not accomplished 100% should it be done or not? So I am moving forward with this mantra.

Now the nation will no longer bear the attitude that because a task is huge and difficult, it will not lead to any political gains-so it will not be accomplished. The youth of the country is not ready to bear all these things. The youth is of the view that the politics should be kept aside and some changes need to be made. The country wants this and we are working towards it. We have to scale new heights of development in every sector and also make policy based decisions, besides improving the systems. In certain areas, our habits have become really bad. In those areas I don’t see the fault of any governments. All of us, 125 crore Indians including Narendra Modi are responsible for it. One, we start everything very late and we label it as India time. Why, should we say such a thing about our country? We don’t even realize, it has become a habit with us. Arriving late in government offices is a norm. I was surprised because when I became the Prime Minister, the news was not related to the work I was doing but related to the fact that people were reaching offices on time. Offices were opening on times and officers were reaching on time. These news items for sometime gave this satisfaction that at least the perspective, the work environment are changing but this also saddened me.  Shouldn’t the government officer reach office on time? Is this news? If we go home in the afternoon and the mother serves us good food do we tweet about it that mom served us good food? This is natural. We are losing the natural instincts.

We have tried that every step we take should be in national interest. Every time we introspect whether we are being of use to the nation or not? If I litter just about anywhere, I am doing something against the nation’s interest. Am I inspired to this level or not? It’s my effort to inspire that kind of patriotism in 125 crore Indians. If we are successful in doing so then whichever government comes to power and whatever it does no one will be able to prevent India from achieving great heights. The Indian dream is a global responsibility. The humanity which is caught in crises, only Indian thought and philosophy, Indian culture and tradition can show a way out. The need is that Indians have that kind of a faith in themselves.

It is very important for any country to decide how it conducts itself with its neighbours and the kind of relations it has with its neighbours. When earlier foreign policy was discussed what was it about? Earlier it was all about diplomatic relations and other big jargons. Then trade and commerce followed. Dear brothers and sisters we are looking at a new avenue. It is the path that is the true identity of India, we did nothing new and that path is that of humanity.

Keeping humanity at the centre and focusing on human values can we then connect ourselves to the world? These days there is much talk about the revival of SAARC nations, the concept of SAARC is being given a new lease of life, it is being discussed. Who all are a part of the SAARC group- Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Maldives, India.  We have connected on humanitarian grounds with these nations. We have given priority to emotions.

In Sri Lanka five Indian fishermen were given death sentence. Indian government utilized its diplomatic relations to the fullest and on humanitarian grounds we brought back the five fishermen alive. Sri Lanka is a free nation; it could have hanged the fishermen, because it was a decision of the law of the land. But sometimes humanity is a more powerful force.

Maldives. It’s a neighbouring country in the SAARC. There potable water is a problem and using technology, the water is purified before consumption. One day, the plants of the entire country broke down, there was a huge crisis. The residents of an entire nation did not have water to drink. The President of Maldives sent us a message saying that they were having a lot of problem. We asked them not to worry. We sent water through Aircrafts and the next day we started supply by steamers and continued till their plants got rectified. We did not allow even a single resident to go thirsty.

Humanity has been the core of our diplomatic relations. Humanity is the focus of all endeavors. In Afghanistan an Indian boy was serving as the priest for the Christian community. He was abducted by the Taliban and was being held as a captive for over a year. No one was aware whether he was dead or alive. But we pursued, for it was a humanitarian need. Father Prem, who had been abducted by Taliban had to be brought back. But that element of humanity in Indo Afghan relation was still alive. After a year we got father Prem released and handed him over to his parents.

Bangladesh. The day Bangladesh was created a border dispute was also born. For 41 years a solution to that problem could not be found. The seeds of suspicion were sown. Governments changed, problems were created but no solution was found.  Within a year, we brought the border dispute between Bangladesh and India to an end. I applaud the political parties of the country, all of them. For the first time, both the houses, lower and upper gave complete support, not a single vote was cast against the motion, with full majority and unanimously the resolution was passed. The Focal point –humanity!

Recently Nepal had a major earthquake and the Nepalese Prime Minister publicly acknowledged. It’s his greatness that he publicly said that he came to know of the earthquake in Nepal through Modiji’s twitter. He said that publicly and India ran speedily to wipe Nepal’s tears. The crisis in Nepal was huge. I am born in Gujarat; I have witnessed the earthquake in Gujarat. I know how terrible the tragedy related to earthquake is. But India stood united with Nepal. Humanity is the core of our diplomacy.

Four thousand Indians were trapped in Yemen. There were bombings all around, there were deaths everywhere. Everyone had a doubt whether Indians will be saved or not.  We were a little brave, used our diplomacy, we were able to convince them to stop bombings for two hours and in the meantime we were able to evacuate 4000 Indians. Among those 4000 there were citizens of 48 countries. America had informed its citizens that if your are trapped consult the Indian government, it will rescue you.

In Nepal, people from more than 50 countries were trapped. All the countries contacted the Indian government in Delhi and dear brothers and sisters we were able to rescue citizens of more than 50 countries. We saved Pakistani nationals from Yemen and Pakistan too saved 12 Indian citizens. They not only rescued these citizens, they arranged a special plane to drop these Indians to India. So with the focus on these humanitarian grounds we are trying to connect the world with us.

On the other hand is technology. Korea knows how technology can be used to achieve new heights of success. We are trying that India becomes a manufacturing hub.  We are making efforts that the technology that is available in the world is present in India and the talent of India through research and innovation makes some contribution to the world. Hence I am inviting the entire world with the mantra of Make In India.

You are the youth who are associated with technology, with modern science. You have an opportunity to gain experience. You have come here. Learn as much as you can, know as much as you can. How will it be used finally, I am aware. And therefore I have come to give you my wishes that despite of staying outside India may you take your lives to new heights. India is as much yours as it is Narendra Modi’s. In the times of crises we will not see the colour of your passport.  We have a blood relationship and that is enough. Though you are outside India may mother India continue to bless you forever? I send you my best wishes and pray for your progress. May your thinking and conduct in Korea bring pride to India? And today, I feel that it is the Indian citizens and not the officers sitting in high offices who bring pride to India’s name. The officials in the embassy may be 5, 10, 15, 20 or 50. But you are there in thousands. And today, I am witnessing for the first time that the officers of the embassy and the Indian society are working together in tandem. This is a very big change. This is a huge change.

And so, once again I express deep gratitude for your zeal and enthusiasm on the Korean Soil. The honour and respect you bestowed on me is not just for Modi, it’s the honour of the 125 crore Indians. I thank you all once again.

Bharat Mata Ki Jai! Bharat Mata Ki Jai! Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Thank You

                                                               *****

 

AKT/AK/SH/HS