Committed to ensuring justice for all, says PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that his government was committed to ensuring justice for all citizens, which he described as the basis of its philosophy of “sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,” and recited a Sanskrit “shloka” (poem) to underline the responsibilities of the State.
The shloka recited by the PM in a speech on a visit to Prayagraj read: “Swasthi prajabhya paripalayantam, nyayena margena mahi mahisha,” which translates as: “May the well-being of all people be protected by the powerful and mighty leaders, with law and justice.”
The immediate context for the speech was a ceremony in which assistive devices were distributed to physically challenged people and senior citizens.
It also came in the backdrop of opposition criticism that his government was seeking to divide the nation through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which seeks to fast-track the grant of Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from predominantly Muslim Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Opposition parties say it goes against the Indian ethos of secularism by linking citizenship to religion, and have rejected government assertions that Indian citizens wouldn’t be affected by the law.
Clashes between pro- and anti-CAA protestors left 42 people dead in Delhi towards the end of February.
To be sure, in the PM’s speech on Saturday, there was no mention of CAA, although it emphasised the government’s commitment to inclusiveness and the well-being of the nation’s 1.3 billion people.
He said: “When I started speaking, I mentioned a shloka which defined the responsibilities of the government. The last line of the shloka --’ lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu,’ which means everyone in this world should be happy, is actually what my government is working towards.”.
Modi highlighted the measures put in place by his government for the over 25 million differently abled and 100 million elderly population of the country. He said the previous governments had been insensitive towards the needs of such people and made little effort to provide them solace.
The PM cited one example — the absence of a common sign language that the differently abled from two states could both grasp.
“Previous governments never thought of bringing a common sign language. For developing a common sign language, our government has come up with an Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre. A dictionary of 6,000 common words has also been prepared, which would address the difference in language. Moreover, around 400 government websites and also currency notes and coins have also been made disabled-friendly,” he added.
Before delivering his speech, Modi interacted with some of those who received assistive devices, including battery-operated tricycles and prosthesis. At the ceremony, the organisers distributed 55,406 such devices to 26,874 people, including the elderly.
Meanwhile, at a separate event in Chitrakoot, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the Bundelkhand Expressway and said it would prove to be the ‘expressway of development’ for the region.
The 296-km-long Bundelkhand Expressway will pass through Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur and Jalaun districts, connecting one of the most backward regions of the country to the national capital through the Agra-Lucknow Expressway and the Yamuna Expressway.
“The expressway project will take Bundelkhand on the path of development and prove to be the ‘expressway of development’ for the region,” said Modi.
“With a project cost of ~15,000 crore, the Bundelkhand Expressway will create thousands of job opportunities and connect the common people with facilities in bigger cities,” he added.