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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
24-April-2018 19:46 IST
English rendering of PM’s speech at the launch of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan on National Panchayati Raj Day in Mandla, MP on 24 April 2018

Madhya Pradesh's Governor Smt. Anandiben Patel, state's Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, Union Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Shri Purushottam Rupala, Minister of State Gopal ji, Mr. Om Prakash, Mr. Sanjay, my colleague in the Parliament Mr. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Smt. Sampatiya Uikey, BJP leader and an MP from Jabalpur Shri Rakesh Singh ji, Head of Zila Panchayat of Mandla Smt Saraswati Marawi ji. I would also like to proudly announce the presence of Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura. He has done a commendable job during the Tripura elections. BJP won a majority in assembly elections. It was a historic decision taken by the people of Tripura.

Most of the population of Tripura is tribal. Just like there is a long history of Gonds in your state, there has been a long rule of tribal people in Tripura. I am glad that today the newly elected Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura Mr. Jishnu Deb Burman is present among us. He belongs to a tribal community and comes from the royal family that had once taken up arms against the British. Today I'm proud to welcome him here on the soil of Madhya Pradesh.

Brothers and sisters,

Today we have gathered on the banks of mother Narmada. About 1300 km long mother Narmada that starts from here and flows till the coasts of Gujarat, taking care of crores of people, aiding in agricultural activities, animal husbandry, rural livelihood, has been supporting our lives for centuries. I salute that mother Narmada!

 

I consider myself fortunate to have got the opportunity of visiting this region even before. Stories of Rani Durgavati’s courage and sacrifice have always been inspiring us. This is the uniqueness of our country. The stories of Rani Durgavati and Rani Avanti Bai have taught us that we should always struggle for the sake of the society and should never accept defeat from foreign rulers; we should not only live with pride but also die with the same pride. Recalling this tradition today we begin this programme celebrating the pride of tribal people on this land.

This day also marks the Panchayat day. This is an important occasion for realizing the dreams of respected Bapu; because Mahatma Gandhi had identified India with its villages. Mahatma Gandhi had encouraged us to realize the dream of 'Gramoday to Rashtroday'. Today on the occasion of Panchayati raj Divas I offer my salute and best wishes to about 2.5 Lakh panchayats, the crores of people in this panchayat, more than 30 lakh representatives of these Panchayats of which one third are our mothers and sisters who have taken the leadership.

I want to assure them that the government of India will support them for the development of their villages, the empowerment of the people of your villages and to fulfill the resolutions so as to get rid of the issues faced by your villages. Our dreams will be associated with your dreams. We will together fulfill the dreams of 125 crore Indians. With this spirit, we should make resolutions to do something for the welfare of the village.

Earlier whenever we used to come and visit Mandla, it was identified with the fort constructed by the Gond Kings. We used to say proudly that, centuries ago, the Gond kings had established such a great system. At that time the princely states, the princes and the rulers used to do something or the other for the welfare of the people that is still remembered and about which we can tell our future generation with immense pride. Such kind of a system used to be there in that era.

We have democracy in place. The people of the villages have given us a responsibility for a certain period of time. They have trusted us. Which elected leader of the panchayat won't have the desire to accomplish 5 or 10 or 15 good tasks for the welfare of the people in the 5 years provided to him or her? 20 years or 25 years or 30 years later during your old age you will be able to tell your grandsons and granddaughters about the work that you had accomplished when you were the head of the Panchayat; like the pond was created under you, the well was dug, the trees were planted in the school during your tenure. Even you would like to tell your grandsons and grand-daughters about the work accomplished under your leadership 25 years or 30 years ago that you were satisfied about. Which head of Panchayat won't have such a desire?

I wish to infuse that strong desire in your heart. If we intend to do something for the public in the limited time period of 5 years and if that desire is extremely strong, you will definitely be able to defeat any challenge or obstacle in your way.

Sometimes when it comes to the development of the village, people talk about budget. There was a time when budget was a problem; but today it is not the major concern. Today the concern is about the proper utilization of the money within the specified time limit for the actual beneficiaries. There has to be honesty and transparency about the work done in the villages. Everyone should know about the amount of money that goes into a project and the explicit outcome. The issue is not about the lack of funds but about priority.

Now you tell me. There is a proper school building in a village with a qualified teacher; the teacher gets regular salary; it operates on a regular basis but if my village's 5 -25 students don't go to school, if they go and hide in the agricultural field or go and sit under the trees, and as a result they remain illiterate, then who is to be blamed for this? Is it the problem of lack of funds? Is it the problem of teachers? Not at all! We need to make the people of villages understand that there is a school; there are teachers available, the government is paying the fees, and the government is paying for the uniform of the students and also providing mid-day meal to the students. Come, not a single child in our villages should be out of school. Not even a single child in these villages should remain illiterate. Can't we take this pledge?

 

Our parents might have been illiterate due to the lack of opportunities and facilities. They might not have got the opportunity of studying because of the governments of that time. However, after getting elected in the Panchayat, in the state as well as at the Centre, we are keen to provide education to the students, especially the daughters. Isn't it our responsibility as representatives of the people that after coming to power for 5 years, this time should be utilized for providing education to the children so that not a single child should remain illiterate? Just imagine, when that child gets good education, after growing up he would say that he used to be a son of a poor mother, who used to work in the agricultural fields but the village head had dragged him out of the agricultural fields and had told him that this was not the time for working in the fields and rather he should go and study in schools. He would say- 'Thanks to my village head that I have become a doctor, an engineer, an IAS officer today. The life of my family has transformed.' If a single life is changed because of one head, the entire country moves in the direction of change.

Therefore my dear representatives, the Panchayatiraj Day should be the day of taking resolutions. Just see, in today's time, there have been several positive changes in the field of Health Care. If our children get timely vaccines against polio, they are not likely to be affected by the disease. You tell me that even today there could be a 40 or 50 year old person who is living with the condition of polio as a physically-challenged person, as a Divyang.  Wouldn't you be pained to see him or not? Wouldn't you feel sympathetic towards him for his condition? You will definitely feel this way.

My brothers and sisters,

Probably that 40-50 year old person was not fortunate enough to have timely protection against the disease. But today the Polio vaccine helps in protecting every child of your village from the deadly disease. No child will catch Polio. Different governments do the campaign for immunization against polio through televisions and newspapers; the dates are announced continuously for administering polio drops. Shouldn't I, an elected representative of the Panchayat, do this job of ensuring vaccination against the disease?

But sometimes these representatives feel that this job is for the bureaucrats to implement. No my dear brothers and sisters. We are the servants of the public and not of the government. We are elected to form the government for serving the people. Therefore, if our power and time is put to the same work we can transform the face of our villages.

I emphasize upon these little things because usually people talk of big things but the real change comes from doing these little things with which we can change our villages.

We are well aware of the fact that if the health of the soil of the field that helps the farmer to fill not only his own stomach but also of the society, is poor then definitely mother Earth will be unhappy some or the other way. She will stop producing enough crops like she used to. We all will die starving. Our future generations will also be compelled to live in poverty. Have we ever thought of calling the group of farmers and telling them how their indiscriminate use of Urea is deteriorating the quality of their land? Sometimes a farmer sees that others are putting one or two bags of urea in their soil and does the same. Sometimes he sees the other farmer using the red boxed fertilizer and copies him.

Can't the villagers decide that if the village receives 50 bags of urea, only 40 will be utilized? In this manner don't you think that the money for the 10 additional bags will be saved? In this way we will play an active role in conserving the health of the soil, the mother Earth that is getting degraded due to urea. Our mother earth will be pleased with us and shower her blessings on us since the son that was killing me by putting excessive urea has now understood his mistake. Now I will produce more to fill his stomach. You tell me, can we do this or not?

I want to ask my tribal brothers, can we do this work or not?

Now the government has made a great law. Today I am standing in the forests of Mandla. Bamboo is cultivated here. There was a time when bamboo was categorized as tree. While I was going through the files, I was confused as to how could bamboo be considered as a tree for such a long time? As a result, my tribal brothers who live in forests could not cut the bamboo and sell them. If the forest officer catches him carrying bamboo, he will be in trouble. These were the problems that they had to encounter.

The government made a crucial decision of removing bamboo from the category of trees and putting it under the category of grass so that the farmer can cultivate bamboo on the boundaries of his farm, sell the bamboo; make different things out of bamboo and sell them in the market. This will create a new avenue of employment in villages. 

You will be surprised to know that despite having such a huge forest of bamboo in the country, we are importing bamboo worth 12-15 thousand crore rupees. For making incense sticks, match sticks, or even for making kites we are importing bamboo from other countries. For constructing our houses, we don't have the permission to cut bamboo. Thousands of crores of Rupees are flowing out of the country.

Now I urge my tribal brothers and the farmers of the villages to plant good quality Bamboo in their fields. They can cultivate their usual crops and along with that they can plant Bamboo on the edges of the field. They will be able to earn extra in next 2 or 3 years. The income of the farmers is bound to increase. They can get additional income from the land that is lying unutilized at the edges.

I appeal to you all and to the representatives of Panchayat. Can we make our farmers in the agricultural sector to be self-reliant? The Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Dev Vrat ji devotes his time to teach zero budget agriculture to the farmers. Can my representatives of the panchayat learn these things and prepare the farmers of their villages or not?

We are currently running a campaign for increasing Honey production and for beekeeping. If a small farmer keeps even 50 boxes for bee-keeping in his agricultural field, he can sell honey worth Rs.1.5-2 lakh annually. Even if he is unable to sell that honey and consumes himself, it will be beneficial for his health. You tell me whether the farmer's income will increase or not? Is it necessary to accomplish this job through budget? Not at all! These things can be done automatically, on one's own initiative. We just need to decide.

The government provides the funds for the wages of the laborers under MGNREGA scheme. For accomplishing the MGNREGA work for 2-3 months, say in the months of April, May and June, we can decide the work that needs to be done before hand. For example, deepening a pond or stopping the water through check dams or preserving the rainwater. The MGNREGA funds can be put to the specified work.

You tell me that if the water of the village is preserved, then don't you think that underground water levels that is going down will ultimately rise? Won't the cost of water extraction be reduced? So, in the future even if there is less rainfall, the agriculture will get a new lease of life from the preserved water. The village will not starve in such a scenario.

The problem is not about the lack of schemes or funds. I would like to appeal to the representatives of the villages to take strong decisions regarding education, healthcare, water conservation or modernizing agriculture. There is no need for a new budget in these areas. Even without a new budget the people of the villages can move ahead and bring changes.

I would also like to emphasize upon another aspect. We had started a scheme for opening bank accounts- Jan Dhan Yojana. Second scheme was regarding insurance with a premium of 90 paise. I don't believe that even the poorest of the poor cannot afford to spend 90 paise. If he has an addiction to bidi, he will spend at least Rs. 2 per day on bidi. So he can very well afford 90 paise for insurance.

You may have seen here on the stage that I had the privilege of handing over Rs. 2 lakh to the mother of a tribal community. What was this Rs. 2 lakh for? She had purchased Life Insurance with a premium of 90 paise. Her family had objected to it. Unfortunately the head of the family died and thanks to the 90 paise, she is getting Rs.2 lakh insurance today. The poor mother has received Rs. 2 lakh. Now you tell me, this initiative will help the person during this bad phase or not?

My representatives and heads of the Panchayat, there shall not be any family in the village that will not have a Jan Dhan bank account and insurance with minimum premium of 90 paise. If that family meets with an unfortunate incident, it will get a financial assistance of Rs. 2 lakh. The family will not be a burden on the village. Can you not do this work?

Brothers and sisters,

I want to draw your attention to three things- 

One is Jan dhan, secondly Van dhan and thirdly gobardhan. We can bring about a great economic transformation in villages through these three things. With the help of Jan Dhan Yojana we can bring every citizen into the mainstream of the economy.

Van dhan- we have abundant natural resources and forest resources. If there are neem trees in a village and  understanding its value if a group of women collect the Neem pods that fall from Neem trees and churn out its oil, they can be used for coating urea. It will be a new source of income for these women. The neem pods that once used to get wasted in the soil can now be a resource – a van dhan. Can't we bring about these changes?

I would like to tell all my tribal brothers living in forests and the governments that today the Madhya Pradesh government has launched a big scheme for the tribal community of which Van dhan is of great importance.

Thirdly, Gobardhan Yojana- villages have abundant livestock. Their ‘gobar’ or excreta is not utilized scientifically. If we look at the waste and garbage of the villages as an asset, we can produce gas, electricity and fertilizer out of it. Even without urea, the village can prepare good quality Fertilizer in this way. Moreover, it will prevent diseases from affecting the village and this can be done without money. This can be done by taking advantage of the government's schemes.

Therefore brothers and sisters,

I appeal to all the panchayats across the country, to the 2.4 Lakh villages from the land of mother Narmada, Mandla with the blessings of mother Durgavati, come and take a resolution, to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's dreams by the year 2022 that will mark 75 years of India's Independence. This year, 2nd October will mark 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This will be a great opportunity for all of us to fulfil Gandhi's dream of an ideal village. All of us should strive to change the villages to change the country. All of us should make proper use of funds in the villages.

I launched a program today in which a new technology has been used through which the citizens will be able to track the government's work progress on their mobile phones ranging from the amount of money sanctioned, the purpose for which it has been allotted, whether that job has been accomplished or not, the place where it was supposed to be done, so on and so forth. Suppose you see that the well that was supposed to be constructed out of the allocated money has not been constructed yet, you can ask the government officials about it. They will be compelled to get it done within a month. You tell me, in this manner the system will become transparent or not? And environment of honesty will prevail in the villages. The government officials will be accountable. 

So my dear brothers and sisters,

We should do the right thing at the right time. These 5 years of your governance can turn into a golden period. The village would remember your work that transformed the condition of the village. We should move ahead with this resolution. Today I got the opportunity of inaugurating an LPG plant here. You must have seen that we are delivering gas cylinders to the people for free. Now we are establishing factories for gas cylinders. This factory will be established with an investment of Rs. 120 crores. The work of delivering gas cylinders to the nearby districts like Satna, Rewa, Singrauli, Shahdol, Umaria, Dindori, Anuppur, Mandla, Balaghat, Jabalpur Katni, Damoh etc. will become easier. The people here will get new employment opportunities. I got this opportunity to do this work among you today.

Brothers and sisters,

We can talk about several topics. But I want all of us to move ahead with the mantra of 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai vigyan' in the villages.

 

I just heard Shivraj ji saying that the government of India has now come out with a law that provides capital punishment for those monstrous men who harass the daughters. I saw that when the Chief Minister was saying this the entire pavilion was echoing with the applause from the people. The applause was not fading away. The government in Delhi is the one that listens to your heart and then makes decisions.

I would say that we should learn to respect our daughters in the family. We should give priority and importance to the daughters in our families and also teach our sons to be responsible. If we start teaching our sons to be responsible then it will never be difficult to keep our daughter safe. Whoever commits a heinous offence shall be hanged to death. But in our families as well we should take the responsibility of ensuring the safety of our daughters. We need to start a mass movement. All of us can get the country rid of these troubles. I want all of you to take these things forward.

Brothers and sisters,

The government has envisaged an important task. Unfortunately the fight for Independence was limited only to a few people and a few families. I don't know why the stories of the real sacrifices have not been included in the pages of history.

Even before 1857 for several years during the period of colonization several ancestors from India had made sacrifices for self-respect, culture or freedom. Even after 1857, very few people are aware because it has been erased from the memory of the people that my tribal brothers and sisters had made several sacrifices for freedom of the country. They had fought several great wars for the honour of India. Great personalities like Durgavati, Avantibai, Birsa Munda had sacrificed their lives for the country.

It is my dream that a museum would be created in every state for the ancestors from the tribal community who had fought against the British rulers. The school students will be taken to these museums and will be told about the tribal brothers who had sacrificed their lives for our country's culture and history. This work will be undertaken even in Madhya Pradesh in the future.

 

Therefore my brothers and sisters,

Commemorating mother Durgavati from the land of Mandla, I offer my heartfelt best wishes to the people who have organized the tribal festival for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj so as to strengthen our democracy and for the welfare of the mother earth and the villages. I congratulate Mr Tomarji,  Rupalaji  and all the officials of his department for initiating the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in the entire country.

On 30th April, an awareness program will be organized regarding Ayushman Bharat. Workshops will be organized for the farmers on May 2nd. All the issues related to the village life will be taken up. I request you all to participate with a new enthusiasm and hope.

With this expectation, I wish you all good luck, thanks a lot!

 

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AKT/SH/IG/MG/AK