Modi urges youth to learn English

Updated on May 07, 2004 05:18 PM IST

"I am not an advocate of English, but I advise Gujarati youngsters to learn it to answer those who are defaming us," he said.

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PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Surat

Chief Minister Narendra Modi has called upon the Gujarati youth to learn the English language to silence all those allegedly defaming the state and its people.

"I am not an advocate of the English language, but I advise Gujarati youngsters to learn the language to answer those who are defaming the people of Gujarat," he said, while addressing an official function here to mark Gujarat's 45th foundation day.

Without naming any section, Modi said: "For quite some time, people who came from elsewhere to earn their bread here have been indulging in anti-Gujarat propaganda."

The chief minister also drew attention to the peaceful conduct of polling process for electing candidates for 26 parliamentary seats and said: "Did you read any newspaper reporting conduct of elections in the state?"

Modi also defended -- what has been dubbed by the opposition Congress as waste of public money -- the massive expenditure for official celebrations to mark the Gujarat Day.

"We celebrate birthdays in our families, no matter what. This is Gujarat's birthday," he said.

The state administration will foot a bill of about Rs 150-200 million ($3.3-4.5 million) for the ongoing three-day celebrations, which kicked-off Friday.

Continuing the trend started by Modi last year, the celebrations are being held away form the state capital of Gandhinagar.

The state administration had held last year's foundation day celebrations in the cultural city of Vadodara, the Independence Day celebrations in north Gujarat city of Patan and the Republic Day celebrations this year at the coastal city of Jamnagar.

"The state government has attempted a new way to connect with masses. Such celebrations make public life vibrant," Modi said.

"We are taking government to the doorstep of common citizens. It is people's participation, which makes the government's administrative structure more effective," said Modi.

The plan to float about 45,000 'diyas' (lamps) in the river Tapi was billed as the main attraction, but only 5,100 could be floated Friday.

To ensure an impressive show, water was released from the nearby Ukai dam, provoking criticism from the farming community.

They alleged that the amount of water released was enough to meet the irrigation demands of the entire south Gujarat for about 10 days.

The excess water would flow unused into the Arabian Sea, at a time when 10 districts of the state are experiencing drought-like conditions, farmers said.

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