Asserting that a new "atmosphere of trust" has developed in India since he took over 10 months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to "clean up" the mess left behind by the others.
"There is a new atmosphere of trust in our nation... We say 'jan gana man adhinayak' -- that 'Jan Man' has changed," Modi said addressing in Hindi an estimated over 10,000-strong Indian diaspora at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, early Thursday morning.
Modi is in Canada on the last leg of his three nation tour.
Thanking the Canadian people for the welcome they have given him, the PM said the honour wasn't for Narendra Modi but for the 125 crore people of India.
It was a repeat of the Madison Square Garden atmosphere in North America as Modi spoke at length to an admiring audience in Toronto on Wednesday evening (Canadian time) during a community reception.
What made this event different was that for the first time for such a diaspora gathering, Modi was accompanied on stage by the head of government of the nation he was visiting – in this case, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Even as a uranium supply deal with the Canadian company Cameco Corporation had been signed earlier in the morning in Ottawa, Modi referred to that and developments in the civil nuclear energy sector by linking it to India’s efforts against climate change, pitching it as part of his Government’s clean, green energy mix that includes solar, biomass, wind energy as well as energy saving.
He said, "We used to ask for reactors for nuclear energy from every country, every one used to no, fearing we will make bombs. Now we have a MOU with a company in France for making the reactors and the best thing is that these will be built in India. And the uranium needed for nuclear energy will be given by Canada."
As in his previous trips abroad, attacking the previous governments, Modi said, "Jinko gandagi karni thi, gandagi kar ke chaley gaye, hum safai karke jayengey (Those who had created a mess, they have done so and left. We will go after cleaning it up)."
He said India is a large country, the problem is old and it will take time to clean.
"India will provide the workforce to power global growth. Our mission is 'skill India', not 'scam India'," he added.
The crowd of nearly 8,000 at the Coliseum were more enthused by the folksy connect he has established with the diaspora. As the Prime Minister told them to cheers: “Last year when it was election time in India, slogans were being raised here. When the results came there, sweets were being distributed here. People celebrated in the day there and here in the middle of the night.” He also repeated several times that the mindset in India had changed since his government had taken charge.
"10 months ago, only the government had changed but now people's mindset is also changing."
PM Narendra Modi is greeted by Canadian PM Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen Harper as he takes the stage for a speech to the general public in Toronto. (Reuters Photo)
Modi also reiterated the decision announced earlier in the day for electronic visa clearance for Canadian visitors to India. Mostly, it was a sort of report card to an adoring constituency, amid shouts of “Modi, Modi” which turned to “Harper, Harper” when his Canadian counterpart came in for praise, as he often did.
Speaking at a venue that stages ice hockey matches, Modi stood upon a special gradually rotating stage that ensured he faced and addressed each section of the audience.
He stressed on "Skill India" and said that skill development can lead any country towards development.
"There is only one solution to all the problems and that is development."
He said that India's biggest treasure is its youth and his aim was to see them as "job creators".
"Eighty crore youth population, 80 crore dreams, 160 crore strong hands. What can we not achieve?" he said, adding that he wants the youth to be job creators not job seekers.
My mission is skill India, not scam India: Modi's speech in Toronto
Talking of his visits to Toronto in past as an ordinary worker, there was also a nod in the direction of Canadian PM Harper. Modi pointed out to the crowd that Canada was the first country to partner with Gujarat after the Vibrant Gujarat Summit was launched. Describing Harper as his “friend”, Modi said Indo-Canada relations” were in for the long-haul.
Harper made a similar point. As he spoke before Modi, the Canadian PM said pointedly: “We had extended our hand of friendship long before the others.” Harper was accompanied on stage by his wife, Laureen. He, in fact, even quoted Vivekananda in the context of revitalised Indo-Canadian relations, as he said, “Stop not until the goals are reached.”
Modi appeared about 45 minutes after the scheduled time and spoke for over an hour to the audience which had gathered at the venue, at least six hours earlier amidst heavy security. A cultural programme, capped by a performance by singer Sukhwinder kept them somewhat entertained, but the real performer of the evening was certainly Modi.
Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Modi’s visage, 10-year-old Alark Vyas from Etobicoke in the Greater Toronto Area said he “really enjoyed” the speech despite its length. Teenaged Prachi Patel said she appreciated that it “was easy to understand.” Moiz Khambatti from the suburb of Missisauga described his experience as “awesome”, adding that he “was pleased to be in the audience.”
(With inputs from PTI)