Our very own Padmashree Karsanbhai Patel Ji, very popular and dynamic Mayor of Ahmedabad, Shrimati Bijal Bhen Patel Ji; Shri GS Malik, the IG of the BSF in Gujarat; Shri KK Patel, Vice President of the University, who is steering the University to greater glory, Dr Anup Singh, the DG of Nirma University; Shri Hirenbhai Patel, the Managing Director of Nirma Limited, who has taken on the mantle of Karsanbhai. Of course, Karsanbhai just told me that you have moved on a lot to industrial products, which is very good, but I was urging him that you must continue to have your presence in the consumer section also so that all of us can continue to benefit from your products.
Dr Alka Mahajan, the Director of the Institute of Technology, Dr RN Patel, Additional Director of the School of Engineering, Dr VJ Lakhera, Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department. All the distinguished faculty members, board members, senior dignitaries, senior officials from coast guard and BSF and my young friends, brothers and sisters, students of this University. I am indeed delighted to be amongst all of you for the Praveg programme, which is in its third year this year and the focus that you have brought to the contribution of the armed forces and different wings of the armed forces to our national security, to our national development is truly a very good idea to instill in the youth of the country, in the youth of our cities, of our universities a sense of pride in the noble achievements of the armed forces.
Karsanbhai was just telling me about the different wings of education that Nirma University has expanded into, even moving beyond mechanical and civil engineering. We have recently started a Rail University in Vadodara which was a dream pet project of hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji. And I was wondering if Nirma University would consider starting some courses which help us get a pool of engineering talent, maybe in the armed forces, maybe in the Railways. All of us are continuously looking for talent to come into our services. And, maybe a quite an exciting proposition to have an engineering core which is focused on the needs of the nation’s very critical arms, like the Army, the Air Force, maybe the Railways.
It’s, of course, just food for thought at this moment, but it may be a good idea to look at how we can expand the contours of education with more specialization to serve the needs of specific areas, and towards that end, this concept that has been initiated by Nirma University plays a very important role in encouraging the youth of the country to look at these areas also as possible career options. I think it’s a good idea to honour the defence personnel, the uniform services at Praveg. And also, through the exhibition understand what are the ways, in which the defence services are contributing to the nation.
And I hope this will open up some innovative minds in Nirma University to see how they can contribute with some new ideas which can serve us. In fact, I would invite you to partner with the Railways to do a similar programme. And we have a huge engineering core in our Ministry running through the length and breadth of the country – probably one of the largest railways in the world serving nearly eight and a half billion passenger trips and over a billion tonnes of freight being moved every year.
And I see tremendous opportunities for innovation – something which Gujarat is very famous for – in terms of how universities, such as Nirma University can partner, either with the armed forces or with the Railways or other arms of the government in coming up with innovative solutions that can help us in serving the nation better, serving all of you better in the days to come. And I can assure you that just like the BSF is serving the nation protecting our borders, just like the coast guard is serving the nation, protecting our sea routes and the coast line in some small measure as an ancillary to these efforts of the armed forces, the Indian Railways also has a small contribution in keeping the wheels of the defence forces moving, moving ammunition, moving armed personnel across the length and breadth of the country – to the borders.
In fact, in the 1965 war, we had about 17 casualties of the Indian Railways, during the 1965 war. Three of them were loco pilots, fourteen were our Railway constables, who gave the supreme sacrifice while moving ammunition and the armed forces to the borders and were attacked by the Pakistani air force and lost their lives. I remember when Vijaybhai invited me to come for this programme – the hon’ble Chief Minister – my immediate reaction was that this is more to do with the defence forces, and I would be little bit of a person out of place in the whole scheme of things.
But then as I reflected more, I have realised that the nation, it’s various arms in the service of the people of India have a lot of intertwined responsibilities, roles and therefore, in some sense each one of us is working in different forms to serve the country. And therefore, I am really delighted to be a part of Praveg. Praveg represents the energy of the youth. Praveg actually accelerates your energy. Praveg talks about speed.
It shows the restlessness in the youth of the country, and therefore, the name is quite appropriate when you are involving young minds, young children – boys and girls. It is this restlessness, this speed, this feeling of accelerating whatever sphere of work each one is doing that actually motivates all of us whether in government, in different walks of life and this youthful energy can actually help take this country to greater heights – something that the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in fact, mentioned even on his 15th August speech this year, where he said that he is a restless person, a person who is all the time feeling that he has to do much more because we have a lot of gap between the developments in India and the developments in developed world – the other parts of the western world particularly which has made rapid progress – be it industrialization, be it economic growth, be it better welfare for the people of their countries.
And Prime Minister Modi is a man who is in a hurry, who is restless to catch up with that development. Hopefully, go beyond that development which we see in other parts of the world. And I am sure this army of youth that you are developing in the Nirma university will become the foot soldiers of development in this country going forward and will make this nation pride with their ideas, with their ideals, with their innovations, with their efforts so that our country also is counted in the league of developed nations so that we also can completely eliminate deprivation, poverty.
We can ensure that we all contribute to making of new India – the New India where every citizen has his own home, has 24×7 electricity in his home, has a toilet in his home, has digital connectivity in his home, clean drinking water, access by roads, quality healthcare, quality education. It is only when we look at the holistic and comprehensive development of every single child in this country that we will be able to truly call ourselves a developed nation, a caring nation that looks after its 1.25 billion citizens.
The government over the last few years has been making various efforts to bring about this change and in almost everyone of these areas, you will find that the speed and scale of executing our programmes, government programmes to reach the last man at the bottom of the pyramid have been accelerated over the last few years.
While I can read out tonnes of statistics, I think all of them, collectively, are reflected in the most recent rankings of ease of doing business that the World Bank has published only two days back, which show that in a short span of four years, the efforts of this government have been recognized all over the world in terms of improvement in our ease of doing business from nearly 143 to 77 now. And by next year when we complete our fifth year in government, my own guess is we will be in the top 50 in the world in terms of ease of doing business.
But, ease of doing business is incomplete without ease of living as the hon’ble Prime Minister often says. And our effort is, through our vision of new India, through the vision of Prime Minister about new India, how can we make the lives of every citizen better, easier, more fulfilling, more complete. And towards that end, if you see each of the programmes that the government has initiated – be it Swachh Bharat – after all, I am sure none of you would like to be conducting this programme unless there was this level of cleanliness and beauty and once we create this level of cleanliness and beauty, naturally nobody will spoil this environment.
After all, we are about a thousand odd people here, I can assure you nobody is going to spit in this beautiful surrounding. Nobody is going to throw a piece of paper anywhere around, because you have kept the place neat and clean. In fact, I can’t find a speck anywhere. This has been made so beautifully. But imagine if our own country was to be like this. If every railway station, if every street in the country, if every beach in the country could be like Sabarmati river front which has been developed in Ahmedabad, would we all not enjoy much more, would we not find life much more beautiful, if all our surroundings could be as neat and clean as this.
And several studies suggest that this will have a huge impact on the healthcare of our citizens, on the longevity of our citizens’ lifespan, and the amount each family spends on healthcare could possibly come down by about Rs. 50,000 per year if we focus on good sanitation and cleanliness. Now, while it may seem like a small programme but it’s a programme which has a deep thought behind it. When we introduced the Jan Dhan Yojana and provide that every family should have their own bank account, it has a deep ramification of financial inclusion, getting everybody to enjoy the fruits of banking services, formalize the economy, move India towards a more honest framework of governance. And we are able to ensure that 99.5% of the households in the country have their own bank account. Nearly 32 crore Jan Dhan accounts are opened in barely three-three and a half years.
When we talk about electricity we feel ashamed that 65 years after independence, we find thousands of villages which did not have electricity access. Nearly 18,452 villages did not have electricity access until three and a half years ago. Prime Minister Modi sets a 1,000-day deadline, and since, he comes from your state and your city, I think most of you are very familiar about his monitoring of his projects and the way he holds people accountable. He completes the electrification of each and every one of those 18,452 villages well before the 1,000-day deadline.
And I must mention to my young friends here, these 18,452 villages were the most difficult and inaccessible villages in the country. You will appreciate if they were nearby, if they were easily accessible, they would have been completed, hopefully, many years ago. These were at the top of a mountain, sometimes in deep forests, areas where there were no roads also – people had to lift poles and wires, cables and transformers on their shoulder and take it to those villages. Some villages we could only electrify using non-conventional energy like solar power with a battery backup. They are so inaccessible in remote northeast, in Arunachal Pradesh and other areas.
But Prime Minister Modi did not rest there, he said why should 30 crore Indians be deprived of electricity, why should electricity reach a village but not every hamlet, not any majla, dhani, tola around the village? Why not electricity to every household? And he launched Saubhagya, and I am happy to share with you that state after state now is ensuring what Gujarat did over fifteen years ago – electricity access for every home. Madhya Pradesh ensured that every home has electricity access. About a couple of weeks ago, they completed every single home. Bihar, one week ago, has declared 100% households now electrified. Every willing consumer who makes an application for electricity gets an electricity connection forthwith.
Ladies and gentleman, should any child in this country, seven decades after independence, be deprived of a basic amenity like power, like electricity. Can you imagine if you did not have electricity, you would have been a part of Nirma University, you would have reached here? I remember my own father studied in school below the street lights in his town, so that he could go to Banaras Hindu University and become an engineer.
But Prime Minister Modi who himself has suffered no electricity, no cooking gas, who has worked at the railway stations, who has experienced the agony of poverty, does not want a single child in this country to suffer, does not want a single child in this country not to have electricity in his home, not to have digital connectivity in his home, not to have ability for skill development to make a better life for him and his family/him and her and his family.
And with that objective in mind, a massive rollout of electricity in the next four or five months, everybody in this country would have an opportunity to have electricity in his home. Nearly five and a half crore women have been given a free gas cylinder connection. I don’t if any of you have had the opportunity to see, ‘Chalo Jeete Hain’. It’s a small 32-minute film in which the artists have sought to capture a small experience in the life of Prime Minister Modi. A small experience which in some sense defined his own thinking about what he wants to do in life. And as Swami Vivekananda said, which is a source of inspiration for all of us that it is only those people who live for others, who really live a good life, who really live life.
And I think organizations like Nirma University are not only creating good engineers, are not only creating good planners, are not only creating good architects or lawyers, but are creating good citizens of this country. Caring human beings, who I am sure going forward in life, will contribute a part of their well-being, a part of what they have learnt over here in the service of the motherland, in the service of the nation. While all of us will not get an opportunity to, maybe like the armed personnel here, live to serve the country, to protect its borders, to save the unity and integrity of the country through the armed forces but each one of us can equally contribute by being good citizens, by being citizens who work for the welfare of our neighborhood, of our society, for better future for the less-privileged, concern for those who have been left behind.
In the railway parlance and I think many of you may have heard of the statement, “कि समाज का एक वर्ग शायद रेल गाड़ी पर चड़ गया और आगे निकल गया पर काफी लोग हैं इस देश में जो रेलगाड़ी नहीं पकड़ पाए, जो आज भी पिछड़े हैं, जो आज भी वंचित हैं विकास से! मैं समझता हूँ हम सबका सामूहिक दायित्व है कि हम सब अपना-अपना समावेश करें इस बड़े लक्ष्य के प्रति कि कैसे देश में, कैसे समाज में हर व्यक्ति का जीवन सुधरे, हर व्यक्ति को सामान्य अवसर मिले, हर व्यक्ति के लिए आगे चलकर एक अच्छा भविष्य निर्माण करने का मौका मिले! और मुझे पूरा विश्वास है कि प्रवेग जैसे प्रयोग जो हम सबको उत्साह देते हैं, हम सबको एक defence और armed forces का जो योगदान है इस देश के प्रति उससे हम सबको प्रोत्साहन देते हैं कि हम भी उसमें भाग लें! भाग लेने के दो तरीके होते हैं करसन भाई, BHAG – भाग! कुछ लोग होते हैं जो भाग जाते हैं, कुछ करते नहीं हैं! समस्या देखते हैं तो देखके पीछे से निकल जाते हैं, कोई रोड पर एक्सीडेंट देखते हैं तो बोलते हैं भाई मेरा काम नहीं है, वो पुलिस वाला देखेगा – मैं बाहर से निकल जाता हूँ! और कुछ लोग होते हैं जो समस्या में कूदकर पड़के भाग लेते हैं, जुड़ जाते हैं कि हमें समस्या का हल निकालना है! और मुझे पूरा विश्वास है कि निरमा यूनिवर्सिटी का एक-एक बच्चा इस समाज के सुधार के लिए, इस देश के भविष्य के लिए पूरी तरीके से भाग लेगा!
As they say, “having an exciting dream is the best alarm clock to wake up to.” And I am sure in the precincts of the Nirma University, we have hundreds and thousands of youngsters graduating from this august precincts, who all wake up with a dream, who all wake up to a better future for India, who all wake up to be a part of this great future that each one of us is seeing ahead of us, who all wake up to the great ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – both illustrious sons of this soil, both giving up their lives for the independence of India, serving to make India one, for the unity and integrity of India, contributing to the development and progress in big measure. And both giving us high ideals to live up to.
As Gandhiji had once said, “Live as if you are going to die tomorrow but learn as if you are going to live forever.” And I pray and wish each one of you, a very long life in the service of the motherland and great learnings in this university, great learnings from the exhibition that is before you today, great learnings from our colleagues from the BSF and coast guard, learnings that will be with you through your whole life, learnings that will help you become better citizens of this country. And I have no doubt in my mind that each one of you, champions of change, each one of you with a courage and conviction, consciousness, commitment to be a good human being with that Can-Do spirit that I will be the instrument of change. I will be the change that I want to see in the rest of the country. Each one of you living and working for that section of society which has remained marginalized, deprived for generations now – will not only make Karsanbhai and Nirma university proud, will not only make your very own Narendra Modi proud but will make the whole world proud of your achievements, your success. A very-very happy Deepawali to all of you and your families.
November 1, 2018 Speaking at Coal India Limited's 44th Foundation Day, in Kolkata