Don't respect women? Don't hail 1893 speech: PM Narendra Modi

PM Modi invokes Vivekananda and Vande Mataram in landmark speech

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Don't respect women? Don't hail 1893 speech: PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a function to mark the 125th anniversary of Vivekananda’s Chicago Address, in New Delhi on Monday


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sent out a strong message to those who disrespect women, saying such people have no right to clap for Swami Vivekananda's famous "sisters and brothers of America" speech that he delivered in Chicago in 1893. Speaking during a youth convention to mark the 125th anniversary of the famous address, the PM also said those who do not care for cleanliness have no right to chant Vande Mataram.

"I want to ask young people. Do we respect women? Do we look at them with dignity? Those who do, I salute them 100 times," the Prime Minister said. "However, if there are people who cannot see a human inside (a woman), then do we have the right to clap for the 'sisters and brothers of America' (speech)? We need to think about it 50 times," said Modi, who is an ardent follower of Vivekananda.

The PM's strong message comes amid a controversy created by some people who brag about being followed by him on social media and still have made objectionable comments about women. Also, sanitation has been the PM's top priority as his flagship project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan seeks to end open defecation in India by 2019.

"I know it will hurt many people but do we have the right to say Vande Mataram? We chew paan and then spit on Mother India and then can we say Vande Mataram?" asked the PM.

The PM was welcomed at Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi with chants of Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai. This continued even during his almost 60-minute speech, one of his finest in recent times.

"As I entered, I heard people loudly chanting Vande Mataram... The value of patriotism fills my heart. I am asking all countrymen whether we have the right to chant Vande Mataram," the PM said.

He asserted that women were God's creation and said he is proud of those who refuse to get married into families whose houses do not have toilets, and called for building of toilets before places of worships. "Toilets first, temples later," he said.

The PM also said sanitation workers have the first right to hail Mother India. "If there is anyone who should have the right to say Vande Mataram before anyone else, it is those children of Mother India who perform the job of cleaning our streets," he said. "Whether we clean our surroundings or not, we do not have the right to litter it." "We are healthy not only because of doctors, but because of those who clean hospitals," he said.

The PM also gave a clear signal to fringe elements and said he does not oppose celebrations of events like Rose Day, asserting he does not want youth to turn into robots. Right-wing groups such as Bajrang Dal often thrash couples celebrating Valentine's Day or Rose Day.

"Can't we think of celebrating Tamil Nadu Day in Haryana colleges? Punjab colleges should decide that today they will celebrate Kerala Day, sing their songs, wear their costumes, and watch their movies. Then they will ask them about their games, how they are played," he, however, said.

"Will this not be productive? Will this not lead to one India? Can we not arouse a feeling of pride for every language, state in country?" he asked.

"There is no better place for creativity and innovation than university campuses. There is no life without creativity. Let our creativity also strengthen our nation and fulfil the aspirations of our people. India's standing in the world has risen due to janshakti (people's power)," he said.

The special address on Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya's centenary celebrations was dedicated to the youth and students. Vivekananda, the PM said, had given the message of love and brotherhood.

He batted for innovation and promoting skills among the youth and asked them to work for a modern India.

"The world evaluates the country where it is today and not what it was 5,000 years ago or during the times of Lord Rama or Buddha. Vivekananda supported experimentation and innovation and the government is working according to the ideals shown by him," Modi said.

The PM referred to Vivekananda's address as 09/11 and also referred to the terror attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. The devastating terror strike might not have happened if the significance of the other 09/11 had not been forgotten, he said.

With the theme of the convention being "Young India, New India - A Resurgent Nation: from Sankalp to Sidhhi", the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education, two of the higher education bodies of central government, had made it mandatory for students to listen to the PM's address in their respective colleges or departments.

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