Prime Minister's Office

English rendering of PM's address at UNEP' Champions of the Earth' Award

Posted On: 03 OCT 2018 3:50PM by PIB Delhi

Secretary General of United Nations, His Excellency António Guterres Ji, my colleague in Council of ministers Sushma Swaraj Ji, Dr. Harsh Vardhan Ji, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Executive Director of United Nations’ Environment Programme Erik Solheim, guests from India and abroad who are present here,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am extremely grateful to the United Nations for this honor. It’s a matter of great pride for us that this programme is organised on Indian soil and Secretary General of United Nations, Erik and his entire team have come here. As I have already said that this honor is the result of the commitment of 1.25 billion people of India towards the environment. Champions of the Earth Award is an honor to that ancient tradition of India that sees the God in  nature, that invokes the God in the five basic elements of the creation -  earth, sky, fire, water and air.

This honour is for those tribal brothers and sisters inhabiting the forests of India who love forests more than their lives. This honor is for those Indian fishermen who take away from rivers only as much that is required for their livelihoods. These are those people who perhaps have not attended any school or college but these people stop going to seas during the time of breeding of fishes. They stop their work.

This honor is for those millions and millions of Indian farmers for whom the cycle of weather is synonymous with the cycle of life and those who love this soil more than their lives.

This is an honor to that Indian lady for whom reuse and recycle has been part of daily life for centuries, who sees the form of god in the plants, who plucks the leaves of Tulsi plant by counting them and for whom feeding food-grain to ants is an act of righteous deed.

This honor is for those unknown faces in India who have dedicated their life for the protection of nature and environment in the country and for those who have been working in some remote village or habitation or on some hill or in some tribal areas for years without concerns of  loss and gain or happiness or prosperity.

Once again, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for this honor.

It is also an occasion of two honors for India because Kochi airport is also awarded. It is a symbol of our commitment for the sustainable energy.

On this occasion, I congratulate to all those colleagues and institutions who have been awarded in different countries of the world.


I talk of Indian philosophy with regard to environment and nature because climate and calamity are directly related to the culture. It is difficult to escape calamity till the time concerns about climate become part of the culture.

Today, the world is accepting India’s sensitivity towards environment. However, as I have said earlier that it has been part of our lifestyle for thousands of years and Sushma ji has referred to this just a while ago. We are a part of that society where the first thing we do after waking up in the morning is to seek forgiveness of the Mother Earth because we are going to step on it, in a way we are going to place our burden on the earth.

It is said in our tradition:

Samudra Vasane Devi Parvat Stan Mandite,

Vishnu Patni Namastubhyam Pad Sparsham Kshamasvamev.

It means, O Goddess Earth, the wife of Lord Vishnu, who dons the seas as her clothes and whose body is in the form of mountains, I bow down to you. Please forgive me because I place my feet on you.

This sensitivity is part of our life. Worshipping the plants and trees, celebrating the weather and seasons for fasting and as festivals, talking about the relationship with nature in our folklores, we have always considered the nature as a living being. And it’s not just that we have considered it as a living being but a living being with whom we live. In our tradition, the well being of the entire universe is considered the most important thing because of this relationship with the nature.

And in this context the Yajurved says;

Om Dwaiah Shanti Antariksham Shantih,

Prithvi Shantih Rapah Shantiroshadhayah Shanti,

Vanaspatayah Shantir, Vishve Devah Shanti, Brahmam Shantih,

Sarvam Shantih, Shantirev Shantih, Sa Ma Shanti Redhi.

Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.


In this Sanskrit Shlok (verse) it is prayed to God: May there be peace in air; may there be peace in the space; may there be peace on the earth; may there be peace in water; may there be peace in herbs and medicines; may there be peace in the trees and plants; may there be peace in the world; may there be peace in all the gods.

In our tradition, no yajna or ritual is being considered complete without invoking this mantra for the peace in the entire world, it is not considered complete till the time it is invoked. Moreover, when God had to introduce himself, when God is required to explain about his expanse then God himself says:

Shrotasya Asmi Jahnavi

Sansar Asmi Sagar.

It means that I am the lake, I am the river and I am the sea too. That is why the award that you bestowed upon me, is an honour to the people of India and  an honour to the beliefs held by them.


Today, the economy of India is growing at a rapid pace. Every year millions and millions of people are coming out of abject poverty. We are committed to further increase this speed of development. It’s not because that we need to compete against somebody or we are greedy for money, it is because we cannot leave one part of our population to bear the brunt of poverty.

It is the responsibility of all of us to provide them a dignified life. The poorest people in several countries of the world have been facing the adverse impact of mindless exploitation of the nature. The intensity of drought and floods is increasing every year. And  people who are poor, who have limited means, are the worst sufferers of these developments.

That is why there is a need to provide assistance to connect these people, who are extremely large in numbers, with the development without putting extra burden on the nature. There is a need to hold their hand.

And that is why I have advocated for it in Paris too. And I have placed a word before the world and I have advocated about climate justice. We can’t come out of this challenge of climate change without ensuring climate justice, we can’t come out of this situation. I am happy that the world has accepted it in the Paris agreement and has shown commitment on climate justice. However, we need to do a lot more to realise it on the ground and we need to do it fast.

I am particularly grateful to His Excellency António Guteres because he accepted this demand of the time and he has made all out efforts for implementing the sustainable development goals and for the ratification process of the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol.

And that is why we have been moving ahead on the path of Sabka Satha, Sabka Vikas in India. And when I talk about Sabka Vikas then the nature is also included in it and I also appeal for the active participation of all, it means active participation of 1.25 billion countrymen.


Both villages and cities are important pillars of our economy. In our country, a big part of employment is related to villages and farming and our cities are the hubs for services and manufacturing. And that is why the government has been working with a holistic approach.

For the country’s present and its future, the basis for every government policy is a clean and green environment.


Our villages have always been conscious about the nature, they have remained connected to the nature. In the last four years, the villages of our country have further expanded this eternal strength of them.

The efforts like ‘waste to wealth’ and ‘waste to energy’ for converting bio-waste into energy have been made in the villages too. ‘More crop Per Drop’ has been encouraged from Organic Farm to Soil heath Cards.

It has been helping in setting our land and water sources free of poisonous chemicals and it has strengthened the need for proper utilization of water. And when we talk about industry and manufacturing then our motto is zero defect and zero effect. And when we talk about agriculture then our motto is more crop per drop.


Today, India is among those countries of the world where urbanization is taking place at the fastest speed. In such a situation we have been laying emphasis on making our city life smart and sustainable.

Today, whatever next generation infrastructure is required in the country that is being developed with the objective of sustainable environment and inclusive growth. Today, the work is going on at a fast speed to develop 100 smart cities. Smart services from sewer to surveillance are being developed.

As per the suggestions given by the local people, cutting-edge technology and renewable energy is adopted as the basis of these systems. National highways and expressways of the country are being made eco- friendly. Green corridors are being developed along the highways. We have been making every possible effort to meet all the energy requirements of the other services developed along the new highways through solar power. City transport network like metro rail are being connected to the solar energy and we are also trying to reduce the railways’ dependence on fossil fuels.


Today, in India, a movement for water and energy conservation is going at a fast pace from homes to lanes, from offices to roads and from port to airport.  New technologies are being promoted from LED bulbs to rainwater harvesting.

Not only this, we have been working at a fast speed to turn household kitchens to transport sector into clean fuel based kitchens and transportation.

In the last four years, more than 10 crore households have been linked with LPG and more than 5.5 crore gas connections were given free through the Ujjwala scheme. In addition to setting the households free of smoke, the movement to set the mobility free of smoke is also going on. The work on NCAP or National Clean Air Programme is going on to improve the air quality. When the issue of setting the emission standards for vehicle was discussed then we decided to straight away implement the BS-6 standards from existing BS-4.


Today, at a time when the focus of India is on ease of living, when homes for all, electricity for all, food for all, education for all and employment for all are the important aspects for us even at such a time our commitment towards employment has gone up, we never allowed any laxity on it. Our effort is to bring the emission intensity down by 20-25% in the next two years in comparison with the level witnessed in 2005. We have been trying to bring it down by 30-35% by 2030. If we have attained the biggest success in all this, then it is because of the change that has come about in the behavior and thought process of the people.

In addition to our faith, now our inclination towards environment is being strengthened in our deeds as well. And that is the reason that India could set itself free of single use plastic by 2022.

I am confident that India will realise these resolves by taking inspiration from the towering personality of Mahatma Gandhi and it will emerge as a role model for the world. I once again express my heartfelt gratitude to the United Nations for honouring the efforts made by India.

All of you have participated in this important occasion by taking out your time. It is my personal responsibility that we should not leave any stone unturned in achieving those goals for which we have marched ahead. I convey my heartfelt thanks to all of you for coming forward to encourage us.

Thank you.




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