“Divisive forces” will pose hurdles as India moves towards the 2047 target (of becoming a developed nation), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while virtually addressing a ‘Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam’ event in Gujarat Wednesday.
“We celebrate diversity. We celebrate different languages and skill sets. There is diversity in our beliefs. This diversity does not divide us, but it strengthens our bonds and relationships because when diverse streams come together, then ‘sanagam’ happens,” PM Modi said, while addressing a group of Tamils having their roots in the Saurashtra region of the state.
PM Modi remembered how he had initiated a similar event in Madurai when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2010. He also narrated how a similar event, titled Kashi-Tamil Sangamam, was held a few months ago in Varanasi.
“Today, we have a target of India (as a developed nation) in 2047. We have challenges that date back to slavery (pre-Indepence days) and seven decades after that. We have to take the nation forward, but on the way, we will encounter divisive forces and people who will misguide. But India has the strength to do something new, despite the tough situations,” Modi said in Hindi, addressing the audience in Somnath.
He also pointed out that portions of India’s history were kept “hidden” for the past several years. “We will feel more proud about our heritage only when we know about it and free ourselves from the slave mentality and discover ourselves. Be it Kashi-Tamil Sangamam or Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam, these events are becoming an encouraging campaign for this. So much of the historical connections between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu was deliberately hidden from our knowledge. The information about Saurashtrians migrating to Tamil Nadu during the foreign invasion was limited to a few historians. But, even before, both these states had been connected from ancient times,” he said.
“When foreign invasions began against India, the attack on the country’s culture and respect came in the form of an attack over Somnath (temple). In those times, there were no modern means. It was not an era of information technology. There were no fast-moving trains or planes. But, our ancestors knew that our country was spread from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. So, they (migrating Saurashtrians) did not worry about how they will adapt to new environments, languages and people. To save their beliefs and identity, they migrated in large numbers from Saurashtra to Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu’s people welcomed them and supported them to start new lives. What better example of ‘EK Bharat, Shresht Bharat’?” PM Modi asked.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who was present at the event, said, “This programme is a historic event that brings western and southern India together. It is meant to highlight the religious, historic and cultural traditions of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. The invaders tried to break the unity of our country and destroy its culture.”
Narrating how Gujarat had accommodated all those fleeing oppression, including Parsis from Iran and women and children from Poland during the Second World War, Patel said, “It was perhaps the first incident where people from Gujarat were forced to migrate during an invasion. People of other states accommodated them.”
Patel was referring to his government’s claim that people from Gujarat fled, fearing invading armies of Mohammad Ghazni, who attacked the Somnath temple in 1024 AD.
While speaking at the event, Union Minister for Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi said, “We are getting acquainted with our own history. So I must say ‘thank you very much PM Modi’. Because of you, we are getting to learn our history lessons. We are getting a chance to remember the forgotten history of the country. We are being introduced to the concept of ‘Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat’ imagined by our ancestors. What are ‘shresht’ and ‘uttam’ in India are the cultures and traditions which existed 5,000 years ago. This culture and tradition hold us together. My name is Meenakshi, and I am a resident of north India, but I have a south Indian name. This is the tradition of this country.”
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