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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
02-September-2014 18:14 IST
English Rendering of the Text of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s remarks at the Indian Community Reception in Tokyo

My dear Indian brothers and sisters settled in Japan,

My dear Indian brothers and sisters settled in Japan,

The song that these children were singing, I used to hum this song every day some 25-30 years ago. This was my very favourite song. So today, hearing the kids sing in the original mood I forgot all my exhaustion. From the moment I heard them I too joined them. I would sing in the same way. My heartfelt  blessings to these children. Hope they understand what I am saying?

I have been to Japan before and each time I visited, I had the opportunity to interact with Indian community here. I also had the opportunity to listen to you and also to tell you something. Any country of the world that one goes to, if you get a chance to meet some Indians there than a few things crop up every time. We landed on a airport then so and so happened. The taxi owner meets and so and so happened, toilet and washroom…. these are 4-5 common things. And this all is natural because after living here for so many years this is very natural and hence the biggest task that I have undertaken is of ‘Clean India’.

It is a difficult task but somebody has to start it. I have laid a timeline for the people of the country. Year 2019 will be Gandhiji’s 150th Birth Anniversary. Mahatma Gandhi liked cleanliness the most. If you have read Gandhiji’s biography or heard something about him in childhood then you must have surly come across his love for cleanliness. He would never compromise as far as cleanliness was concerned. He would always be at the fore front. See the Ashram at Vardha or the Ashram at Sabarmati. They were very simple. There were no lavish arrangements but there was no compromise on cleanliness.  So I put forth a view across my countrymen, Mahatma Gandhi gave us freedom which is such a huge gift. What did we give Mahatma ji? We should give something in return. And hence I have requested the countrymen to create and offer an absolutely Clean India by 2019 to Mahatma Gandhi.

You must be writing letters to your relatives here. But now you might not be writing letters anymore. You might be sending e-mails or might be interacting through Whatsapp or twitter. Whatever the medium please spread the message about the cleanliness here in Japan and ask your fellow countrymen to do and achieve the same level of cleanliness. Talk to your family, your neighbours as this is an important task to be undertaken and I am sure you will certainly do it.

The Indian community has a special quality. We are not as proud of it as much as we should be of it. We do not praise the goodness of the Indian community in the way we should. Anywhere the Indian community has gone - be it a 100 or 150 years ago, wherever they went, to whichever country they went, there were no complaints against them, of having done something wrong or looted someone. These are neither small values nor are these values insignificant.

In any society of the world, some individual’s mistakes must have taken place, some good and some bad things keep happening. But as a community there has been no complaint against the Indians. Indians are generally regarded as law abiding, simple community who mostly contribute to the economy and never create any problems.

This is our legacy. This is our total wealth and this has been achieved because of our traditions that have been passed from one generation to another. The credit goes to you for the respect we have earned.  And for that I would like to especially congratulate and compliment you.

No one can easily understand that prevailing value systems in India, just by visiting the embassy. But by meeting you they will instantly realize what India stands for, the way you live life in India and how you present India. It all basically depends on the pride with which you represent those aspects.

I remember many years ago, when I had been to Taiwan. That time I was not in government. I had gone there as a regular citizen for about 7-8 days. I also had lot of spare time in hand those days. I had no specific work. The government provided me with an interpreter. The interpreter was an educated person, a computer engineer. Without his help I was unable to function. We became friends in 5-6 days.  Initially he stuck to the rules and followed the protocols. Probably he was from the MEA which has the most number of protocols. So he was strictly following the rules. But after 5-6 days observing my behaviour he must have realized that I can be befriended. So then we became friends. He started talking. He said ‘Sir, if you don’t mind I have to ask a question, I said “go ahead”. He said, ‘are you sure you won’t feel bad”. I told him to ask without any hesitation. This incident, I am talking about occurred in the later half of twentieth century in Taiwan. This was the last year of the British century. He asked do the Indians still do magic, is black magic still prevalent in India? Are there still snake charmers in India? Means he still thought India to be a nation of snake charmers. Just imagine, how much the world had changed, he was a computer engineer and this was the notion he had about our country.

I said “We are no longer the land of snakes alone. We have undergone huge changes. Generation after generation we are becoming lighter. Poor thing, he did not understand. I said earlier we would play with snakes now we play with mouse. Earlier we would play with snakes but gradually our degradation and devaluation has led us to the mouse. Now we can move the entire world with the movement of our mouse.

The 20 -22 -24 year old youth of India have stunned the world in the field of Information Technology. The entire world’s perception of India has undergone a sea change. The job which could not be accomplished by any government, any PR agency or an investment budget running into lakhs and crores has been achieved by these young 20-22 year old Indians whose skills at computers has changed the face of the world.

This is the strength of this nation. This is what India is proud of. We are proud of our India of its status in the world. You can see any country of the world. Do the other nations not have problems and difficulties? Of course, they do. Are there not good and bad people everywhere? But only those societies are able to make a mark who move forward with their qualities and do not sulk about their shortcomings. They do not think it a misfortune to be born in India, or it would have been better to be born in some other country. Such a society can never progress in the world.

The one who has pride in whatever he has, can live a life of dignity, We may live in any part of the world, the world should be proud of the good qualities it has. But we should never compromise with our self respect and dignity. This is a great power in itself. See Lord Rama went to Lanka, the Golden Lanka and he too could have got enamoured as he was also mortal. But even after winning the battle, he had no desire for Lanka. These were his sentiments for Ayodhya. However my Ayodhya is – poor and with problems, yet it is mine. You keep your Golden Lanka. This message is our biggest strength.

I want this sentiment to echo in the heart of every Indian, whichever part of the world they may live in. Our people went to the Caribbean countries more than a hundred years back as slaves. The Britishers took them as labourers, even the prisoners were taken and left over there. These people contributed to the making of a nation. Just go and see there. Just see how they are maintaining their connect with India through the couplets of Ramayana. Means whatever is your root, the umbilical cord carries the life force, do not disconnect with your umbilical cord. There should be continuous efforts to maintain this connection.

We might be living in any country, but we can decide that at dinner time all will sit together and have dinner together - be it three or two or four generations. At the dinner table we will speak in our native language. Can you do this?

It may seem small but it has great potential. There should be competitions on the foreign soils and I wish you organize them. Our girls can compete in a saree wearing competition, who wears the best saree? Who wears the fastest? Give them prizes.  There can be a turban tying competition. Who can tie the best turban and who can do it the fastest? See, these things will form a connect. In a playful, competitive manner traditions will be passed on. Smallest things can make a difference. There can be a competition of Indian cuisines. It is not compulsory that the new generation competes, even the seniors or the older generation can participate. There can be competition to make roti (bread), sabzi (vegetable) or even daal (pulse).

You might be surprised that I am talking about trivial things. You might think what kind of a Prime minister is he? But I know it is the power of these small things that changes the world. We should prepare our next generation for this. If you do it, it will be good.  I am just a guest who has come here to talk about India and tell about India.

I tried to hear and understand Japan’s perspectives. Some good decisions were made. We made some very good decisions with Japan. In India the word trillion will be discussed for the first time. Million and billion is a little familiar, but trillion was discussed for the first time. 3.5 trillion yen or 35 billion dollars equivalent to two lakh and ten thousand crores is what Japan will invest in India. It will connect with the development in India. This is a big decision in itself.

Some areas are very sensitive, which may lead to certain doubts between both the countries. There were six companies in India whose produce was banned in Japan. We had issues with Japan for a long time on this. I am very happy because Japan trusted us and lifted the ban. Trust is a great power. In world relations, trust leads to strong bonds of friendship. And it is because of this friendship that Japan has lifted the ban on the product of those six companies.

I was born and brought up in Gujarat but these days I am serving Kashi. I am the MP from Banaras. I have a responsibility too. Varanasi is an ancient city considered older than even the Vedas. It is described as one of the oldest cities of the world. Kyoto too is an ancient city. It also has many temples. They have modernized it keeping intact its spirituality. I often think - can’t the same be replicated in Varanasi. So I took off some time for Kyoto in this trip of mine. And I am very happy that the Prime minister discarding all protocols came to Kyoto. He showed me around the place, spent a lot of time with me.  It was a pleasant interaction alongside some light conversation and overall the mood was pleasant. But I have a dream, I am a public representative of Varanasi and I want to do something for it.

We have signed an MOU with Kyoto bearing in mind to protect the heritage of Varanasi and keeping it intact. Kyoto is a city where 17 structures have been declared as World heritage Sites. There can be no other city in the world which has 17 World Heritage sites. It is that great a city. We can learn a lot from them.  Both Kyoto and Varanasi as cities are Heritage Cities.  So I dedicated some time in that direction. I believe that in the coming days we will be able to do that kind of work in Varanasi with Japan’s guidance.

From my perspective this has been an extremely successful trip. Very successful! I also see this visit from another point of view. Whenever important people meet they give gifts to each other. You will be happy to know that I brought copies of the Bhagwad Gita as gifts. I do not know what kind of a reaction it will invoke in India. Probably there will be a TV debate. Our secular friend will raise a storm saying what he thinks of himself. He has communalized this tradition too.

Well they too have to earn a living and what will give them fodder if we do not do something. But really, what kinds of topics are being discussed these days. But it is my conviction, my commitment and my decision that I will gift the Bhagwad Gita whenever I meet some big dignitaries of the world.

I went to meet the Emperor of Japan. I gifted him Gita because I have nothing greater than this to gift him and the world does not have anything better to receive. Indo Japan friendship is a special feature of it. The Japanese people holds a special place for India in their hearts. You live here you anyways will be having a special place. But the reason for this would have been a good behaviour by you by virtue of which you must have brought this respect for India. I was told that when the Hiroshima incident took place, then volunteers from several countries of the world came here. Everything was finished. It was only the volunteers from India who lifted the dead body with their hands while the others used machines to do the same. Even in that crises the Indians carried the dead bodies in their hands. This created a huge impact on the Japanese that they not only respect the alive but the dead too. This was the message. This might sound insignificant but it has created a strong emotional bond.

I see a different world view behind taking this friendship forward. Terminologically, I am no diplomat. Hence I am not aware how those people might contemplate it. But my raw vision, my common sense tells me that the entire world says that the 21st century will belong to Asia. There is no confusion about it. All the people including the top most people of the world have said that the 21st century belongs to Asia. Some go even forward and say that 21st century belongs to China and some say it belongs to India. But there is no confusion that the 21st Century will belong to Asia. This is confirmed. But how will the 21st century be? That is not confirmed. And I believe that how it will be depends on the Indo Japanese friendship. What values do India and Japan promote together will decide how the 21st century will be. What kind of efforts they make to take the world in a certain direction. This will decide how the 21st century will be. In that respect the Indo Japanese friendship is going to impact an entire century.

You live in Japan. I would urge you to realize its strengths and understand them and as an Indian citizen work towards enhancing the connect that the Japanese people have for India. I have this firm faith that you will make a huge contribution in enhancing India’s pride.

I would like to mention two small points. You have been staying here for so many years in Japan. You can pledge that through my initiative I will try and send at least 5 Japanese families to visit India. Can you do this? What the Indian government cannot do, you can do. Tell me, there are 23,000 Indians here, almost 5000 families.  If 5000 families send 5 persons, almost 75000 to a lakh people will visit India because of your initiatives. Tell me, will this not help the poor in India earn their bread and butter; the tea seller will be able to sell his tea. You too would want that the tea seller sells tea.

There is one thing we can do but we don’t do it. Explain them and give them the faith. You give the names of four places that they might visit and feel good about it. See, if the Indians world over start sending five of their friends to India, Indian tourism will not lag behind. This work can be done very easily.

Secondly the entire world is connected through the social media and the internet. My PMO has an interactive website MYGOV. Please visit it and see the details. You can join as a group and give suggestions as to what can be done in India. Very constructive suggestions can be sent to me directly. Whatever you have in your mind, you can put here. It is an open forum, a very new concept. My government means people saying their own government. We have created it with this intention. I want you to study it. Please give your contribution on the issues I have raised there. Whatever contribution is received from around the world will help in the development of India. I am not asking you for yen, pounds or dollars, yet you can do a lot for the country.

With these expectations my best wishes to you all. Thank You.

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AKT/AK/SH/HS