Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
28-September-2014 18:19 IST
Text of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s address to the Indian community at Madison Square Garden, New York

Hail Mother India

Hail Mother India!

My dear brothers and sisters in America!

All the respectable dignitaries of American politics especially present here for this ceremony and my fellow Indians watching this programme today on television and the internet.

My greetings as well to the people who could not make it to this auditorium and are standing outside. Wishing you all a Very Happy Navratri!

The festival of Navratri is meant to worship power. It is a festival of purification. It is an occasion to strengthen our dedication. I have the good fortune of meeting you on such a pious occasion. I am proud that my fellow countrymen who despite being far away from their land, have created a name for India and have enhanced its glory and honour. Otherwise, there was a time when our country was known as the land of snake charmers. Had it not been for you, had it not been the youth of our country, if you would not have achieved these feats in the field of information technology, then we would still have the same reputation of being the land of snake charmers.

A few years back I had been to Taiwan. That time I was neither prime minister nor chief minister. An interpreter was accompanying me. We had an acquaintance by spending few days together. One day he asked me, “If you don’t mind I would like to ask you a question. I said go ahead, I won’t mind. But he was still being apprehensive and hesitant. Then he said that I have heard that people in India practice black magic. It is a country of snakes and snake charmers. People still watch them? Is it so? I said no. Our country has undergone a lot of devaluation. Our ancestors would play with snakes whereas we play with the mouse. Our youth are able to shake the world with a click of their mouse.

You all have earned a lot of respect in America through your conduct, values, traditions and ability.  You have played an important role in creating a positive image of India not just in America but globally as well, since the world community lives here. Recently, elections were held in India. There might be quite a few among you who did not have the opportunity of voting in the elections. But you were all witness to the results. You surely must not have slept when the results must have been declared.

I do not think there is a single individual here who would have got a wink of sleep that night. The Indians in other parts of the world were celebrating much more than those within India. There were many of you who were a part of the election campaign, who had spared time and come to India. I could not even meet and thank them. But today I personally thank all of you for sparing your time and living in the villages for months at end. The Indian democracy witnessed an unprecedented turn of events and you played a crucial role in the final outcome.

After 30 years! You are aware that it has happened after 30 years. India has had a government with complete majority after 30 years. None of the political pundits in India could digest this mandate. The opinions of the opinion makers also failed. Well, the poor, uneducated people of the villages gave the opinion makers a new opinion. These election results have demonstrated the people’s faith in democracy and the significance of every individual in democracy. Winning an election is not about assuming power. Winning elections is all about responsibility.

I have not taken a vacation of even 15 minutes since I took charge. I assure you that we will not take a single vacation. The responsibility that has been accorded to me in this country, by the people of this country, I assure you that we will never do anything that will make you feel ashamed. The country right is now in a zealous mood and full of enthusiasm. People of the country want change. The world is progressing towards economic prosperity. Even the poor in India are asking how long they are supposed to be languishing in poverty. Everyone is seeking change. I want to assure you all my countrymen that the government will leave no stone unturned to change the economic situation of India, to lend potential to its social life and improve the quality of lives of the people.

I fully understand that many people sitting here have a lot of expectations from the present government of India. The citizens of India also have a lot of expectations from the present government. But I can say with full confidence that this government will be 100 percent successful in fulfilling the expectations of the people within its tenure.

As the chief minister of Gujarat I had once said during a programme that if you come back to India, come fast, don’t delay. That time I didn’t realize that I will have to shoulder this responsibility but every individual staying here, irrespective of how long he/she has spent in America has started to feel that they should also have a base in India. My dear countrymen, the whole world is convinced that the 21stcentury belongs to Asia. Even the eminent politicians of America have said it publicly that the century belongs to Asia, and some even believe it belongs to India.

It is not without a reason that people say India has the potential and possibilities and now even the circumstances are favouring us. Just imagine, today India is the youngest country in the world. A nation with the oldest civilization is also the youngest country in the world. What a beautiful coincidence, what amazing amalgamation.  A nation whose 65% population is less than 35 years old, a nation whose youth is incredibly tough, whose  fingers have the deftness to be connected with the world via computers, a nation whose youth is determined to create its own future, that nation now does not need to look back.

There is no need to be despondent. I can say with complete conviction that the nation will progress at a great pace. The potential of these young people will take it forward. India has three qualities which no other country in the world has. But it is our duty to identify these three advantages and present them to the world. We need to make use of these advantages and mobilize them so that we move forward with fast speed.

The blessing of 125 crore Indians is like a divine blessing. People are the representatives of God. So when they bless you it is almost like the blessing of God. Those three things which India can be proud of and that will take it forward: First is democracy - it is our biggest strength, our biggest wealth. I was watching the election campaign. In the scorching heat of May, people with hardly any clothes on their body would come to participate in public gatherings. They had hope. This is the essence of democracy - hope precedes aspirations. Democracy is not a mere arrangement in India, it is symbolic of people’s faith. It is the people’s faith, their belief.

Our second asset is the demographic dividend. What more can a nation which has more than 65% of its population under the age of 35, ask for? Can there be a greater benefit? And our third advantage is demand. The whole world is looking towards India. Why? Because it knows that a nation of 125 crore presents a huge market, there is great demand. No other country in the world can boast of these three assets. By optimum utilization of these resources, India will scale great heights and I am sure of this.

America is one of the oldest democracies in the world. People from all over the world have come and settled in America, and Indians have also settled in different parts of the world. There is no corner of the world where you will not find an Indian. There is no city in America where you will not encounter people of different nationalities. Such commonalities! Dear brothers and sisters, I believe that governments alone cannot be responsible for development. At the most, a government can launch schemes. It can make roads, it can make schools and hospitals. There are limitations to its budget. But actual development takes place when there is public participation. Unfortunately, till now the onus of development was on the government. We have decided to choose a path where 125 crore Indians and the government will work together.

There is another problem in our country. If the nation has to progress then it is the responsibility of the government to provide good governance. You too might be having various complaints, some problem at the airport or some problem at the visa office. I might be miles away from you but I am well aware of your problems. I am aware of your grievances. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I want to make development a people’s movement.

We are well aware of the history of our freedom movement. The Britishers ruled over us and prior to them various others ruled us. Almost for 1000 to 1200 years we were slaves. But if you were to see history, in each age there was some great man who sacrificed himself for the country. You can name all the gurus in the Sikh tradition. One after the other they sacrificed themselves. Bhagat Singh was a part of the same tradition. Till date the Sikhs guarding our borders are ready to lay down their lives for the country.

In each era, great men have sacrificed themselves for the nation. They would sacrifice themselves, be hanged or be shot, and then some new leader would come up to take their place. Then he would sacrifice his life and a third leader would be born. There was no dearth of people sacrificing their lives, but he would come alone and fight for the nation with all his might and get martyred for his country. He would fight with his small group of 5 or 50 friends and companions. But what did Mahatma Gandhi do?

Mahatma Gandhi made independence a public movement. If someone wore khadi, it was for independence. If someone taught children, he was working for independence and if someone fed the hungry, it was for independence. If someone swept and cleaned, that too was his contribution for independence. He gave a direction to each individual according to his capacity and potential, so each one felt that he too was fighting for independence. This was Mahatma Gandhi’s biggest contribution.

Each citizen during the freedom struggle through the medium of different work that whatever he was doing was guided by the sentiment that I am doing it for my nation, and this gave an impetus to the freedom movement. Brothers and sisters, the way the freedom struggle became a public movement, similarly development too should become a people’s movement. 125 crore Indians should feel that they are working for the nation. I may be a teacher, but if I teach the children well, I am serving the nation and doing a better job than even the prime minister. A cleaner would do his job well, he will clean well. Why? because it enhances the prestige of my nation. This will be his service to the nation. A doctor will serve the patients from a poor family and that too with complete dedication. The life of the poor is equally valuable and the doctor also works for the nation.

I have attempted to make development a people’s movement. All 125 crore Indians should be participants in the development of the nation. I want to instill the sentiments in people like “whatever I do, I do it for my country, let me do nothing that shames my country”. I have complete faith that such days are back again. All around there is a vibrant mood and each Indian in every corner feels that they have to take the nation forward. The will power of the 125 crore Indians is my strength, my power. And it is this will power on which I rest my faith and believe it to be the reason for India to lead the way in the 21st century.

All those of you who are in the habit of reading, might be aware that by 2020 the world will require workforce in large numbers. Their population will be aged. They will not have the requisite workforce. We will be able to supply the workforce to the entire world. Today, there is great demand for nursing employees all over the world. If we can train them in India and send them all over the world then it will be a favour to them. Today, the world requires teachers. They require math and science teachers. Can’t India export those teachers? A nation which is full of young people can train them according to manpower requirements of the world. India holds the potential to rule the world through its young manpower. It has the potential to create a place for itself in the world.

The world will have to acknowledge the talent of India. And brothers and sisters, what you have done here is no short of a miracle. We are consuming the same food and water that you grew up on. If you can then why can’t we? So we too can achieve the same miracles. See the talent of this nation.

In Ahmedabad if you have to travel for a kilometer you have to spend Rs. 10 if you travel by an auto rickshaw. Now, see the miracle of India’s talent. 650 million kilometers or 65 crore kilometers is the distance to Mars. The Mars mission was accomplished by making small parts in small indigenous units. Whereas it takes Rs. 10 to cover a kilometer in Ahmedabad, it took only Rs. 7 per kilometer to reach Mars. A kilometer in Rs. 7? Isn’t this our remarkable talent?  Isn’t this symbolic of the potential of our youth. Not only this, India is the only country in the world to have reached Mars in its very first attempt.

India and America are not meeting just on Earth. We are meeting on Mars too. They landed on the 22nd and we reached on the 24th. Not only this, our Mars mission cost less than the budget of a Hollywood film.

A nation which has this talent, this kind of potential, that nation can scale  new heights of success. And for this we have started the skill development programme. If the youth has a skill and an opportunity to work, then it has the capacity to help shape a modern India. Hence we have emphasized skill development. We have created a separate ministry for skill development after the formation of the new government. We have put in great effort and we also want to share experiences of the other nations of the world. We are going to invite them to become a part of skill development. There are skill universities in the world, we would like them to associate with us. We have two ideas for taking forward the skill development programme. We want to prepare two types of people through skill development. Those who can be job creators and second those who cannot be job creators but will be the first choice whenever there is a job opening. We want to develop the youth in this manner.

Some years back the process of nationalization of banks was started. The intention was to make the poor a part of the financial mainstream and this became a major political agenda. Those who are familiar with the 70’s era might be aware of it. But see what happened. Despite having so many banks, 50% of the families in India do not have a bank account. As a result they are forced to borrow from money lenders. How the money lenders exploit them is known to all of you.

The people from my Gaura community are present here, they know. Shouldn’t the state exchequer be used for the welfare of the poor people? Should it just be for the rich? That is why I launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. The bank employees went to each household to open an account. Did you ever imagine a bank employee coming to your place? The postman visits but not a banker. But situations can be changed, people can be motivated and results can be obtained.

We said that accounts can be opened with a zero balance. But look at the honesty of my citizens. Modi said that the account can be opened with zero balance but these citizens deposited Rs. 1500 crore in the bank. This is living example of how the poorest of the poor wants to contribute to the development nation. These are things that bring about a change.

India is a land of possibilities. I have just launched a programme and invite the entire world for it. I extend an invitation to all of you present here. I want to invite you for ‘Make in India’. Today, if you want human resources, effective governance and low-cost production then there can be no other place providing a greater opportunity than India. That is why we are laying emphasis on ‘Make in India’.

When people come from outside, they have a grievance that they have to run from pillar to post among various government departments. But now I want to tell you that those days are over. The entire campaign has been made online. The ‘Make in India’ is developed to such an extent that you can now contact the Indian government through your mobile. You can put up your application and post your requirements online.

The youngsters present here, those who want to do something for the country, people from the first generation, those old people who think that something needs to be done for the country, I would request them to visit my website – I have made a proper arrangement for your suggestions if you want to get connected. I would like you to go and check it out and see if you want to connect with me - please come.  We all want to change India’s destiny. We can reflect on our true strength by involving the use of technology. We can also contribute to our strength through the use of technology.

The previous governments talked a lot about ‘Make in India’, ease of business. They would pride themselves on making this law and that law.  You must have heard about it in the entire election campaign. I am doing something different. I am working to eliminate all the dated and redundant laws. Such outdated laws, a whole web of unnecessary laws, if a common man would dare to enter, he could not find his way out. I have especially created a team of experts. I have instructed them that I will be the happiest if I am able to eliminate even a single law each day.

If I think of good governance then I would define it as governance that is easy, effective and governance that fulfills the expectations of the common man.

You must have read it in newspapers, that nowadays the government officials in Delhi are reaching their offices on time. Now just tell me, is this any news. But in our country this was news. It pained me to read such news. Isn’t it an individual’s responsibility to reach office on time? How can this be news? But such were the prevailing conditions.

These days I have launched a programme of cleanliness. I am sure that you all will take a fancy to it. People might think that a person serving as the prime minister should be engaging himself on more important things. Is this the job of a prime minister? I do not know whether it is the prime minister’s job or not, but I have decided that I will make toilets.

Sometimes, people ask me, “Modiji, please spell out a greater vision”. A great vision! I told them I have reached this position after having started off as a tea-seller. I am a humble, common man. My childhood was simple and I am interested in doing smaller tasks. I am interested in working for the marginalized. Because I am myself a small man, I want to do greater things for the common man.

Now, just look at the issue of the river Ganga. All of you, at some point of time, must have had the desire to take your parents for a holy dip in the Ganges. Each one has this desire. But when you read about the pollution in Ganga, you are forced to think otherwise.

You tell me, should the Ganges be pure or not? Should the Ganges be clean or not? Shouldn’t the entire nation help in cleaning the Ganges? Will you people help me in this mission or not? Will you do it? You will, definitely.

Brothers and sisters, thousands of crores of rupees have been spent till now. When I raised such issues people told me that Modiji you are digging your own grave. Don’t touch such issues. But if I was to deal with easy issues then why would people choose me as prime minister? They want difficult issues to be resolved that is why the people have chosen me. The kind of faith that the 125 crore Indians have on the Ganges, I believe in that faith. And cleaning the Ganges is not a matter of faith alone.

Today, because of the grave concern regarding climatic change, and the environment, cleaning of the Ganges assumes greater significance. Not only this, the kind of setup we have on the banks of the Ganges, be it Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Bengal. The economic activity of around 40% of the population is dependent on the Ganges.

It will be Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Mahatma Gandhi gave us freedom, what did we give him in return? Tell me, shouldn’t each Indian be asking this question. What did we give to Gandhi, a man who gave us freedom? If we were ever to meet Gandhi, and he asks us, will we have any answers? And so, let the entire country pledge that on his 150thanniversary, we gift the Mahatma something very dear to him.

His focus was on two things, one was India’s independence and the other was cleanliness. Gandhiji never compromised on cleanliness. He was undeterred. Gandhiji helped us gain independence. He freed the motherland from the shackles of bondage. Can we present him a clean India on his 150th anniversary in 2019? Should we or should we not? Should we take up this responsibility or not? If 125 crore Indians pledge that they will refrain from indulging in dirty habits, there is no force on Earth that can make India dirty.

In 2022 we will complete 75 years of Independence. In Indian tradition, competing 75 years is a landmark moment. How do we celebrate the 75thanniversary? Shouldn’t we start the preparations now itself.  I have a dream and it will be accomplished with your blessings. It is my dream that when in 2022 India becomes 75 years old, there should not be a single Indian without a home. These are small things which will change India’s fortunes and for that we will have to come together.

2015, next year, is an important year. All of you are migrant Indians, as you have ventured out of India. Like you, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a migrant too. He came back to India in 1915. The year 2015 marks a hundred years of his homecoming. We are celebrating ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Divas’ on 8-9thJanuary.

Quite a few of you take part in it. This time it is being organized in Ahmedabad. It is the centenary of the Mahatma’s return. Mahatma Gandhi went out of the country, he was a barrister, he could have chosen the path of happiness and prosperity, yet he chose to live for the country.

I request that you all draw inspiration from it and try to do something for your motherland, the land you were born in. Please do something you can as per your capacity.

I want to share something with you. After assuming the post of prime minister, certain things came to my mind. There are the PIO card holders, who have some visa issues. We have taken a decision. PIO card holders will be given a lifetime visa. Happy?

Besides, those who stay in India for long, they have to visit the police station again and again. Now they will not be required to do so. Similarly, I have been told that the people of Indian origin have to face problems because of the difference in the provisions of the PIO and OCI schemes. This problem is further compounded if the spouse is not of Indian origin. If someone marries here, then they are caught in an awkward situation. My friends, I want to share the good news that in some months the PIO and OCI scheme will be made one. A new scheme, which will lessen the difficulties, will be prepared within a few months.

Third thing is…wait I am speaking. The embassies and the consulate in America will provide long term visas to those US Nationals who want to visit India for tourism purposes. We will start ’Electronic Travel Authorizations’ and ‘Visa on Arrival’ soon for those American tourists who visit India so that they do not face any problems.

To reap the benefits of these initiatives, it is necessary that they be speeded up. There are a lot of Indians here. There is so much money available that people can come and go even for the smallest of jobs. The outsourcing service falls short. So we have decided to expand the outsourcing services so that your time is not wasted and you get your visa easily. I state this clearly, I believe that whatever the problems I could think of before coming here, I studied them in detail and came up with the solutions.

You came here in large numbers. It is the pious occasion of Navratri. And I am going on with my speech, barely looking at the watch.

I thank you all from my heart. You have given me immense love. I have been observing it for the past 15 years. No Indian leader has received such love. I am eternally grateful. I am indebted for your love and will surely repay you. I will repay you by creating an India of your dreams.

Let of all us get together to serve our motherland and do whatever we can for it.  Do whatever you can for the country. Do anything for the land you were born in, the school where you studied. With this single expectation, I thank you all from my heart.

Bharat Mata Ki Jai! Bharat Mata Ki Jai! Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Thank you very much.