A nation that follows the road to unity is our biggest strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday as he unveiled plans to launch a scheme to bolster the bond among Indian states.
“Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat (One India, Best India) is a scheme that we are planning to launch,” Modi said on the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister.
Highlighting Sardar Patel’s work for national integration, Modi said “unity, peace and harmony” were a must if India had to move forward and attain new heights of development.
His remarks came at a time protests by artistes, writers and scientists over alleged “rising intolerance” after the Dadri lynching incident and beef ban row, among other issues, have mounted pressure on the central government.
Modi was addressing a gathering at Rajpath after paying tributes to Sardar Patel on ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day)’.
“Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s ideology and heritage cannot be forgotten. He contributed immensely to India’s unity,” Modi said.
“Sardar Patel inspires the thought that there is no family name or members linked to his legacy,” Modi said in a dig at dynasty politics, a card that he has played time and again to corner the Congress.
However, Modi also “remembered” Indira Gandhi on the former prime minister’s death anniversary, saying she sacrificed her life on this day and it cannot be forgotten.
PM Narendra Modi flags off "Run For Unity" at Rajpath, Delhi. pic.twitter.com/1Lf7Ez6fAd— ANI (@ANI_news) October 31, 2015
Flagging off a ‘Run For Unity’ at Rajpath in Delhi, Modi said the new scheme will make each state pick a pair every year and promote mutual learning of cultures among the people.
“Once (the scheme is) implemented, states will recognise and learn about another state’s culture and language. For example, if Haryana pairs with Tamil Nadu, then Haryana’s schoolchildren will be taught about Tamil culture and language for a certain period,” the PM said.
“I have formed a small committee which is preparing its modalities,” he said.
Modi also administered a pledge to the thousands who gathered at the function, which saw the participation of school and college students and personnel of paramilitary forces.
(With agency inputs)