Modi hails Gandhi, calls for collective resolve to bring change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to 1.3 billion Indians to individually think of a workable resolution to push the country forward.

This could be their best tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, above, whose 150th birth anniversary was celebrated across India on Wednesday.

Addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad near Gandhi’s ashram, Modi said people’s collective resolve can make a big difference in transforming their lives.

Gandhi’s dream of a self-reliant and confident India inspired the government to launch Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission along with other pro-people programmes.

India has become an ‘open defecation free’ country now.

The government is working towards making the gains from the mission permanent and expanding the campaign to include those who have been accidentally left out.

Other Gandhi-inspired, state-run initiatives include Ayushman Bharat or National Health Protection Scheme, Fit India and Yoga Divas (Yoga Day) on the health front and Make in India, Start-up India and Stand-up India on the business front to achieve self-reliance.

Other pro-poor programmes initiated by the government are Jan Dhan Yojana ensuring everyone access to financial services, Ujjwala Yojana giving 50 million cooking gas connections to rural women, Awaas Yojana offering affordable housing to the urban poor and Saubhagya Yojana providing electricity to all households.

While running these welfare programmes, the government’s focus is to ensure that the last man standing in the queue is benefited, Modi said.

India wants to lead the world but before that it has to solve own problems.

Earlier in the day, while paying floral tributes to Gandhi at his memorial Rajghat in Delhi, he said the Mahatma’s message of peace is still relevant to the world community.

The prime minister also wrote an article in New York Times on why India and the world need Gandhi.

Gandhi was never tempted by power and he never held administrative or elected office, Modi wrote.

For Gandhi, nationalism meant service of humanity.

He used a spinning wheel and Indian homespun cloth as symbols of economic self-reliance and empowerment for a nation.

He started a massive civil disobedience movement by taking a small lump of natural salt from the Arabian Sea shore.

He acted as a bridge between some of the greatest contradictions in human society and epitomised trust among all sections of society, Modi wrote.