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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
24-November-2015 18:50 IST
English Rendering of the Text of PM’s address at Indian Community Reception Event in Singapore

Namaste

Namaste! Vanakkam! The festival of Deepavali has just got over, though I have been informed that Little India has extended the Deepavali celebrations and lights for a week more. I would like to thank all the Singaporeans from the deepest core of my heart for this. I have been to Singapore before and I have received several opportunities to meet and speak with the Indian community. But, looking at today’s celebratory mood of the Singapore city, no one in India can ever imagine this spectacular view. I want to thank you all from my heart. Today, India has built a trustworthy reputation, and the entire world looks at India with a great faith. The reason behind this achievement is not Modi, but ‘You’ - all my Indian brothers and sisters settled in different countries of the world. You all went to different corners of the world all alone, without any assistance, in favorable and unfavorable conditions, you adapted yourself to their lands, as your own. You established a bond with the people of those countries and have become one of them in the same way as sugar dissolves itself in milk.

We have heard and read in history books about the Parsis, who came to India, came to the shores of Gujarat. During that period, India was ruled by Hindu King Jadi Rana. The Parsis had come from a foreign land, and we had no idea about them or their purpose of arrival. But when they sent a message from the sea, the King had sent a glass full of milk, as a reply to their message. This reply had a symbolic message indicating the impossibility of letting them in his country, as his country was already full of people, just like the glass is filled with milk and how could he accommodate them. To this, the Parsis mixed sugar in the glass of milk and sent it back to the King, with a message that they have come from foreign lands, in the time of difficulties, but as there was space for sugar to get dissolved in the glass full of milk, similarly, they would also mix with the people of India and bring sweetness in their lives, like sugar does. Indians, too, with their conduct and character, have blended with the culture of the host countries, and have become one of them. We hear from various countries, that they are glad to welcome Indians, as their neighbour. They are happy to have Indians as their neighbors, and they inspire their children to make friendship with Indian children.

Since ages, due to this positive behaviour, Indians have travelled and settled in different countries, carrying an essence of oneness, they became one of them, embraced people and their culture and they have continued this legacy since then. When India was called the Golden Bird, none of the countries were against us, due to this positive behaviour of our people. Even during the worst days of India, none of the countries insulted us, as our people believed in love and belongingness since ages, as we have read about this in our scriptures. Since the Vedic times, Vasudev Katumbakam has been a part our culture in our country. Indians have believed in this phrase, ‘Whole world is one family’, giving it a real meaning. Owing to this belief, today we are witnessing a sense of belongingness and love, with Indians across the globe. Thereby, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all my Indian brothers and sisters across the world.

Last year in the month of March, I had visited Singapore for one day. The great man, who is responsible for the establishment of this city, who spent his entire life in transforming a small of village of fishermen into this country, competing against the top richest countries of the world passed away and I was here to attend the funeral ceremony of this noble soul Late Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore reminds us of hope and trust for a better tomorrow.

If we are determined to achieve something, it will be accomplished one day. If we have dreams and we are ready to surrender to our dreams, the dreams will come true and it will be accomplished. There is a vast difference between fame and success. We can acquire fame by doing any work, but one can attain success only by following the path of meditation. Those who have chosen the path of fame have failed to attain success. By attaining fame, you can only be in the limelight temporarily, but can never bring a change in the world. Singapore has set the best example for transforming a country from nothing to this epitome of success, within a time span of 50 years, in the life cycle of the one generation. India is a great and a vast country with a population of more than 125 crores. We have everything, but we must learn a lot from Singapore.

50 or 60 years ago, this great person has a notion and vision of bringing cleanliness to Singapore. Should we not follow this idea and work towards it? Isn’t this a major responsibility of our citizens? Mahatma Gandhi throughout his life was very persistent on one things – which was Cleanliness. And he even went to the extent of saying that if he has to choose between independence and cleanliness, he would choose Cleanliness.  

Today, all Indians have come to this common ground. Everyone believes that our country should bring about a change. We have been living in dirt for a long time. The world is changing, India must also change accordingly.  The positive aspect about this is that 125 crore Indians are supporting this change with all their heart. The government alone cannot build and develop a nation. A nation is built with the positive thinking of its people, their willpower and strong determination. It takes generations of hard work and people’s sacrifice to build a nation. Today, this positive temperament can be witnessed in India. Every Indian believes in contributing to the development and upliftment of the nation. We are living in such times that we do not want to part with what we get. For example, we travel and while travelling if we have a seat reserved for us and if there is an empty seat beside us, we tend to keep our bags, newspapers and other stuffs on it. That seat is not reserved for us, but we consider it as our right to grab that empty seat. Eventually, when the rightful passenger of that seat arrives, it leaves bitter taste in our mouth as we have to part with that seat which rightfully belongs to other passenger. The basic thinking lies with caring for others. And I have been seeing the temperament of Indians and they are making a resolve for change.

I once went with a small proposal to the people of India. I mentioned that, when a gas cylinder is used for gas stoves for cooking, Rs. 500 has to be given as subsidy by the government. You are from a family, wherein Rs. 500 is of a very nominal value and is spent for very small things. Why do you ask for subsidy? Shouldn’t you give up your subsidy? I had pointed out this issue and I can proudly say that 40 lakh Indian families have given up their gas subsidy. Those who were unwilling to leave the seat for others are today ready to give up their gas subsidy. It is believable if people follow the words of Mahatma Gandhi or Lal Bahadur Shastri ji, but seeing people following the ideas of a simple man like me, who used to sell tea, means a lot. I point out an issue and the entire nation decides to stand by me. It gives me an immense pleasure to believe that our country will reach new heights and success. I can see Swami Vivekananda’s dream coming true of Mother India becoming an ideal nation in the world. India is full of varied cultures and uniqueness, like Singapore is full of different cultures, but all are called Singaporeans. Everybody is busy working for developing Singapore, as one. Following this principle of “Vasudev Katumbakam”, I believe each and every individual of the world is my own. This feeling will lead the nation to move forward with strength, and we are continuously trying to make our way in this direction. In the past few months, I have met several ministers across the world, representing India. During elections, many of the reporters were keen to know my foreign strategy. I noticed that during the election, the reporters ask very clever and intelligent questions. So, during my election campaigns these reporters were aware of my weaknesses. They believed that I am from a small state of Gujarat with no experience or skills to run the Indian government. So, there was no question of expecting foreign strategies from me. They primarily used to ask questions about my foreign affairs strategies. That time, I was busy with my election campaign and had no time to explain my foreign strategies to them. So, they assumed this field to be my weakness and all their questions lead to this specific subject of foreign affairs. To this, I only used to say, “Brother, we will do, what is to be done in the times of need and responsibility. For now, I can assure you that we will not speak with our eyes down or up, but will speak by maintaining our eye contact with the world.” Today, 18 months have passed, since I made a promise to my beloved nationals and I have fulfilled the same. Indians speak to the world without fear in their eyes and they have never tried to exercise dominance over other countries. India, with its immense self- confidence, speaks to the world looking into their eyes. India speaks to the world at the same level and as a result, we can see that the entire world is behaving in the same manner with India. The world is understanding and experiencing the strength of a country, where 125 crore people dwell. Now, the world does not consider India as a vast market wherein they can come and do business. This thinking has changed and the world is keen to seek opportunities and make partnership with India. We can witness this progress in all the fields.

Talking about foreign investments in India, does anybody sitting here wishes to see India in the same state? Is there anybody here? Everyone wants India to change. Each of us wants that the country progresses for the better, it gets modernized, poverty gets eradicated and everyone gets employment. If we need to pursue this dream, we have to imbibe every opportunity from every corner of the world. God forbid, assume if someone in your family is sick, and if a foreign medicine is the cure, so should you get it or not? The illness should be cured or not?

India is in utmost need of foreign funds. There is a need of FDI and when I say FDI, there are two subjects which comes to my mind. As per world’s perspective, FDI is Foreign Direct Investment, but the idea in my mind is First Develop India and therefore it is FDI to FDI, Foreign Direct Investment to First Develop India. You may be acquainted with your neighbor for so many years, but in case you are in need of a nominal amount of Rs. 5000-10000, will he help you? The neighbor will say:” Yes sure, I will help you. At present, my brother is on a tour, let him come on Monday, I will notify him.” Doesn’t this happen? No one is willing to even shell out Rs. 10000 being a neighbour. The growth in the progress of FDI in India is 40% after I came to power. Why do we need this money? Not to show on paper, but to bring in reform.

Today, we have a huge network of railways in our country. We can say that at a given time people in India travelling in train coaches may be much more than countries having a similar amount of population. Without delay should we not modernize our railways, should we not increase the speed of trains, should we not increase the length of track, should we not improve the services? If the world has technology, world has money, should India not leverage such to the world? I have met people from various countries who are working in the areas of railways and have invited them to bring their latest technology to India. I do not consider railway as a mere means of transportation, but railway is an engine of transformation for India. I have realized the strength of railways and people across the world would agree with me. Therefore, for the first time, we have initiated 100% FDI in railways in India. This initiative will bring technological advancement, speed enhancement and most importantly, bring in reform.

The people who visit foreign places understand the currency system of the world. Although you may have lakh of rupees in pocket but can you get a cup of tea with it? Until you do not have a dollar, you do not get tea. You need to change it to dollar or pound. Do you need to change it or not? The taxi driver will say:” Of what use is this rupee for me? This is just a paper for me. Give me dollar.”

Should the value of Indian currency go up or not? Do we not want that the world provide the same respect to the Indian currency as their own currency?

For the first time in history, we have initiated the rupee bond trade in London Stock Exchange. Even in railways, anyone can invest in rupee bond and will get the returns in rupees. This is the result of respect the rupee has started to garner in the world, otherwise it was only possible in terms of gold, dollar or pound. Today, in world market, we are moving ahead with rupee. It is because there is a growing faith in Indian currency.

The rupee bond which I initiated when I visited UK recently is still a mystery in many people’s mind. They are still contemplating Modi’s rationale behind this initiative. Now as I am explaining it today, a discussion will start on this topic. Rupee bond is in itself an important milestone in India’s financial prowess and all Indians should perceive it as an achievement and should help draw attention towards it. That will result in strengthening of India. If we keep cursing ourselves, why would the world look towards us? Therefore we are diligently working towards a society full of self-confidence having an identity and strength in front of the world.

Currently, all security related items are imported in India. Can we afford to jeopardize the security of 125 crore Indians? Can we leave it on their destiny? Should we not take the responsibility of the lives of this humongous population? Will it work, if our soldiers just stand with a stick? Do we not need them to be equipped with modern arms and ammunitions? But even after 70 years of independence, should we import each and every item? Can this huge population not build and devise them? You would be shocked to know that we even import the tear gas, which is a security tools for the police department. They spray it to disperse the crowds and the effect is that tears start coming out from the eyes of the protestors and they disperse. We even import to cry. I don’t know if I need to laugh or cry but this situation needs to change. A major portion of Indian wealth is spent in import of defence related equipments. India has young workforce, India has talent, India has raw material, and India has its requirements. Why not manufacture the defence equipments in the country? And therefore I have taken up the mantle to make India that India is self sufficient in the field of defence and hence to let India rise, we have opened up 49% FDI in defence sector and have stated a clause that if the technology adopted by them is outstanding, we will convert it into 100% FDI.

This will result in foreign companies setting up their units in India and employing the skilled Indian workforce. This will allow them to help us and even send the skilled Indian workforce to some other place. This is the reason that many countries in the world are signing defence deals with us.

There was a time when with every defence purchase, an allegation of corruption would arise. Either there were no decisions taken on defence procurements or if there were some, then there would be some allegation of foul play associated with them. Over the past 18 months we have taken a lot of transparent decisions and hence till date nobody has been able to point finger of foul play at us and it is important for country’s security.

Countries which are affluent are also facing one problem. There are many countries in the world which have reached the pinnacle of economic development but these countries are getting old as regards their population is concerned and do not have young population left. India is the only country which can be considered a young country. In India, 65% of the population, that is, 800 million people comprise of individuals below 35 years of age. A country blessed with such an enormous population of youth, the dreams of the country are also young, the determination is also young and hence the aspirations of life also remains young. We already have a favourable demographic dividend and to convert it into our strength, the youth will have to master skills and avail opportunities for employment. If this crucial time is wasted, the youth below 35 years of age, cannot wait for a long time. Our country must utilize the power of youth of 65% of Indian population and use their strength in the development of our nation. And therefore we have initiated a campaign of Skill Development and we are working with ITES department of Singapore in the area of Skill Development and we are also working with skill development team of Germany and also working with the USA in this field. We are aspiring to bring all the best skills to India from the countries that have attained mastery in the skill development area. Our people are powerful and they will add something new to this. We can move ahead towards the path of development at a very fast pace and therefore when we build connection with the world, this inherent strength becomes useful.

A huge number of universities and colleges are being built in India, including private colleges but there is unavailability of the faculty members in these colleges. These colleges start operating and are successful is admitting students too. We have started a campaign called Gyan (Knowledge). We have asked the all the people living in the world, especially the people of Indian community, to come to India, during the worst weather conditions, when it is very cold there, there is snowfall and you have to face other difficulties, you come to India during that time. Stay in our country for six months, teach our children and spend rest of the 6 months in your host country when the summer sets in. We have made an agreement with USA and I am very glad to announce that a vast number of scholars of Indian origin and other retired foreign scholars are ready to come and teach in India, to educate the new generation of our country.

What I mean to say is that I aspire that whatever is best in the world should be made available in India and whatever is best in India should be shared with the world. We want our country and our youth to progress with collaboration.

There would be many of you, who would have faced power problem in your villages. Do you still remember those days when there would be no power for 24 hours in the villages? Shouldn’t our citizens get 24 hours power supply after 70 years of independence? A villager gets a mobile phone but has to go to another village to charge it. We have to change this situation. This is a reality we cannot turn our back to. This is a reality. Even today millions of families and thousands of villages in the country are facing power problem. If we want the country to move forward, if we want our kids to learn computers then we need power. We have taken up the mantle and set a goal for ourselves that by 2022 when India will complete 75 years of independence, each and every household in the country will get 24 hours electricity 365 days a year. The world is concerned about global warming and the push is towards reducing electricity generation from coal. We are on the same page with the world on this as we are such people who have protected plants from centuries. We come from such a tradition where we see God in plants and we see Shiva (God) in organisms. We have been worshipping and valuing environment since ages. Environment is related to us in the same way as our every breath we take and therefore we cannot even think of taking such a step which would harm the mankind. There was never a bigger ambassador of environment than Mahatma Gandhi. I think he was someone whose carbon footprint was least in a lifetime. So, we want to generate power but not at the cost of environment. India has a dream that by 2030, 40% power in India will be generated through non-fossil fuel and not through coal. That means, we would want to assure the small island countries who are fearing submersion due to global warming and rising sea levels that we would do whatever we can to stop that from happening because we believe in the philosophy of ‘vasudeva kutumbakam’. So we need nuclear energy, renewable energy, solar energy, hydro energy, wind energy and energy from bio mass. Now, these options are relatively expensive. If we want to go for nuclear energy we need uranium. One does not get uranium because one needs it and can afford it. One gets uranium when the world trusts the country that the uranium will be used for only peaceful purposes and not for evil purposes. India has won the trust of the world in this aspect and new countries of the world are ready to provide us uranium. In the past 18 months we have signed civil nuclear agreements with Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and some of them have already started deliveries.

When we talk of power in India we used to mostly speak in terms of units. We discuss per unit costs and so on. When we move ahead we start thinking in terms of megawatts. We in India have never thought beyond megawatt in the field of electricity. We have for the first time decided to generate 175 gigawatts…. 175 gigawatts of renewable energy. The logic here is simple, in school were we not taught to address the simpler questions first and to take up the difficult ones later? My teacher taught me so and I am sure yours too. They teach us to attempt the easy questions first and then the difficult ones. Tell me, don’t we receive abundant sunlight almost 365 days of the year in our country. We teach our children to respect environment at an early stage. Mothers teach kids to call moon maternal uncle and sun grandfather. We never held this grandfather’s finger to move ahead. Why the solar energy cannot have the potential of becoming a main pillar in our push towards renewable energy? And that is why we are stressing so much on solar energy generation. 100 gigawatts of solar energy, wind energy and biomass - my Clean India Movement aims to generate electricity from the trash generated by 500 cities. This may cost us more but it would ensure clean cities.

To do all this we need international funding, technology, manufacturing facilities and people with the right expertise. I am happy to share that the world has received our declaration of generation of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy with much excitement and interest. The world leaders are surprised and investors of the world are looking at this as an opportunity to collaborate with India for power generation. International relations are not made through just by goody-goody talks. The world either accepts your dominance or accepts camaraderie. Today I can say with satisfaction that India has stepped towards making such international relations. The storm that is brewing in the Western Asian countries, thousands of innocents are being killed and terrorism is at its extreme. Some 70 lakhs or 7 million Indians live in these countries. You all live in Singapore so you will be able to understand this better. Should those 7 million people be left to fend for themselves? Who will they look towards for help when in trouble? Would it be okay if India says that do not look towards us for help because you had left the country and gone there? Not a single such cry for help from any corner of the world should go unheard. They should be immediately reassured that India is there for them, do not worry. The minute they hear this they become relieved, though they are facing trouble but their country will save them from troubled waters. In such situations international relations become very significant and useful. In Yemen and Iraq, thousands of our Indian brothers and sisters were caught in the crisis, our sister nurses from Kerala spent hours between life and death. We can only imagine the horror they had to live with.

We have developed some relationship with countries of the world. We requested these countries with whom we share a good relation with, to help us in bringing our daughters home safely. I can say with great satisfaction that we received all the help we needed to bring back our daughters to Kerala. We were asking people in Yemen for three months to leave Yemen and come back in time but they were not ready to leave. Those who live outside should take note of this. No matter how hard we tried they did not want to leave. They said we will see when the time comes. They were living there with such love and harmony that they had not expected the situation to get that bad. It was only when bombarding started everywhere that they realised the gravity of the situation. We spoke with people of some countries and I spoke on phone with them. I can say with satisfaction that those countries helped us and we were able to save thousands of our citizens stuck in Iraq, Yemen and Libya.. Today times have changed. International relations do not become strong through just efforts and formality but by keeping them alive through active involvement. If a bus with Indian tourists falls in the valleys of Nepal then who will help them if we do not have active and harmonious relations with Nepal. Strong and active international relations play an important role in saving the lives of our citizens in situations of crisis.

If an Indian loses his life abroad, the entire nation becomes restless and when thousands are rescued then one can only imagine the great happiness that it brings to the country. This is why our endeavour is to achieve great heights of development. Gone are the times when one would have good relations with just a handful of countries. Earlier the world was divided into two camps. If one allied with one of them then it would get protection from that camp. Those days are now gone. Today the world has become inter-dependent. No country can now remain isolated. No country can claim to be totally self-dependent. Even the most powerful and prosperous nations are dependent on the smallest of the nations. If India as a nation wants to move ahead in this inter-dependant world then we need to bring a bout of fresh air to our international relations. Even the smallest nation gets benefitted in a union. Can you imagine how India has changed? I appealed to Indians to give up gas subsidy and 40 lakh people gave up their gas subsidy. How have times changed in India.

If India suggests the world to hold its nose and do yoga, we did not ask to the world catching their ears to celebrate International Yoga Day on the 21st of June and the whole world comes together without any consideration of differences in colour, race, traditions to celebrate Yoga and holistic care. Which Indian would not have been proud of this? The day Neil Armstrong stepped on moon not just Americans but the entire human kind was proud of this feat. The proposal to make 21st June, International Yoga Day was accepted at the United Nations in record time. So many countries co-sponsored it and so many countries celebrated it. It was celebrated here at Singapore as well with great gusto. Is Yoga something new? Has Modi brought it? It was always there but never before did we believe in ourselves to make it big on the international platform. We were hesitant and full of doubts. What if someone rebuffed the idea? The world will walk with us only if we believe in ourselves. World is also looking for peace and contentment. It is hoping for someone to guide it towards peace and contentment and the world is ready to walk with it. Today India is ready to walk shoulder to shoulder with the world. Brothers and sisters, I have only one mission and I need your blessings to accomplish it. I need the blessings of a 125 crore Indians and the Indian diaspora all over the world. My mission is development, development and development. The development that will wipe the tears of the poor, the development that will bring employment to youth, the development that brings happiness in farmer’s life, the development that empowers our mothers and sisters, the development that takes us ahead with the mantra of unity and enables us to stand proudly on the international stage, is the development I dream to bring about. It is not only important for India to move ahead but it is equally important for India to become modern. At times it so happens that if you meet senior citizens you would see that a 70-80 year old gentleman would tell tales of his youth to his grandchildren. When I was 20 years old this happened. He would keep saying the same tales over and over again.  After a certain point kids run away when the grandfather calls them to tell stories because they know they have already heard the same stories multiple times. Even kids do not like to hear old stories of valour over and over again.

I have the courage to remind my fellow countrymen that we can take inspiration from the achievements of our ancestors but we cannot rest on our past laurels. In this age we have to draw inspiration from our past achievements and strive towards a brighter present and lay a strong foundation for future. A glowing history of 5000 years, great culture and great tradition but not ready to even offer water to neighbours, is not how my country will be.  We need to take inspiration from our rich history, tradition and build the present. We need to lay a strong foundation with our will power, so that the future generations do not question us, as to what we did to take our rich heritage forward. Through our ability, hard work and persistence we have to sweat it out and build the nation. We need to move forward and also introduce the world to our great our values and cultural heritage. If we do not balance the two the world is not going to accept us.

I believe that you all will support us in making the dream of development a reality. We will do everything within our might to make the country proud.  India has a lot to offer to the world. Today even after facing a lot of adversities we still have the courage to stand proudly in front of the world. But we should not face situations where we become complacent. We need to upscale our development with hard work and collective efforts to achieve better results.

Everyone has made Singapore and everyone is making Singapore. Singapore also has the strength and ability to build the neighbouring countries. I bow to the amazing developmental journey of Singapore. I congratulate Singapore on becoming a nation which deserves a hundred salutation. A billion strong India will also move forward with great enthusiasm and excitement. With this pledge, I would again like to thank and congratulate everyone present here.

Thank You.

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AKT/AK/SH/HS