Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
31-October-2016 20:00 IST
English rendering of PM's Speech at inauguration of Digital Exhibition showcasing role of Shri Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, 31.10.2016


When we have been celebrating the anniversary of Sardar Saheb and when we talk about unity then first of all there is a clear message as I belong to BJP and Sardar Saheb belonged to Congress. However, we have been doing this thing with the same respect, with the same grandeur because every great soul has divergent views during his/her life and controversies are naturally associated with ideas. However, we don’t have any right to use their contribution to divide the future generations. Searching for those things that unite us and associating ourselves with those things and if we can associate everyone then we should make effort in that direction as well. I am surprised that some people are questioning me that who am I to celebrate the anniversary of Sardar Saheb? It’s true that Sardar Saheb was such a person whose family has not taken any copyright. And even otherwise, the person who had not done anything for his family in the public life, and whatever he did, he did as a part of some responsibility and he worked only and only for the country.

If we present these things to present generation as an example then we can say: brother, it’s okay that you have a family but please pay some attention to the country as well. Therefore, there are several such great souls, not just one soul, whose life we should present to the new generation with pride and glory. There are few things that don’t see the light of the day, like the kind of work that ought to have been done in the memory of a great soul; but there are some great souls who were so great that any attempt to make people forget about them was never successful. And therefore there are some events in the life of Sardar Saheb; sometimes we hear about the issue of reservation for women in the structures of governance. You will come across to plenty of people who will claim, or their subordinates will claim that the credit for women reservation goes to that person. However, whatever I have read, as per that Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel proposed 33% reservation for women when he was the chairman of Ahmedabad municipality. However, when that proposal was sent to Bombay Presidency then it was thrown in the dustbin, it was not approved. But these things are examples of how great souls with a foresight used to think.

A very interesting anecdote that reflects the personality of Sardar Saheb was written by Mahatma Gandhi. When he was chairman of Ahmedabad municipality then there was a Victoria garden. And it shows the thinking of Sardar Saheb as he had installed a statue of Lokmanya Tilak in that Victoria Garden. You can imagine how the British would have felt at that time and perhaps that is the only statue of Lokmanya Tilak in the country in which he was shown sitting on a throne, he thought of it and he installed it. Another unique thing is that he urged Gandhi Ji to inaugurate that statue.

Third thing, he had said that he would not be there. And Gandhi Ji had written about that day in his diary about that inauguration. He had written: ‘If someone wanted to know about who was there in Ahmedabad municipal corporation then this decision showed that some Sardar (true leader) was occupying the office.’ The words may vary as I don’t remember the complete sentence but Gandhi Ji himself had written this thing that if Sardar had joined Ahmedabad municipality then it means Ahmedabad has become bold. Gandhi Ji had expressed these feelings.

We know about the history that it is not presented in the proper manner. If we look at the history of any party then we will have to search the relevant pages. When the country got independence and the issue of leading the country arose, then the proposals that were sent by states, were in the favor of Sardar Saheb,  they were not in favor of Pandit Nehru. But Gandhi Ji’s personality was like this that he thought that it would have been better if it was someone else instead of Sardar Saheb. I don’t know but it’s possible that while recommending Nehru’s name he might have thought that Sardar Saheb was also from Gujarat like Gandhi Ji then perhaps he might have thought that both of them would be from Gujarat.

However, this is my logic that is based on literature, there is no historical evidence. I am saying this thing in a humorous manner but some people feel that what kind of person he was that he did not revolt, he did not create an issue. If it’s an issue of chairmanship of a municipality even then it is good; there are 30 people following me, please come forward, these kind of things happen but he didn’t do any such things. However, this thing was not discussed much that he did not create any issue but the truth can’t be ignored. But one more event reveals the real personality of Sardar Saheb. First of November 1926. Tomorrow is 1st of November, it means exactly 90 years ago when Sardar Saheb was the chairman of Ahmedabad municipality and election of the standing committee was due. And everyone was of the view that if the chairman of standing committee and chairman of the municipality is the same person then it would be easier to manage the affairs. So as per the wishes of others, Sardar Saheb decided to contest the election. One Mr. Daulatrai was his opponent and both of them got 23-23 votes. So it was the chairman’s turn to use the casting vote, and Sardar Saheb himself was the chairman and was a candidate as well but the nation would be surprised that Sardar Patel had cast his vote against his own candidature. What happened at the time of independence in front of Mahatma Gandhi, same thing happened on 1st of November 1926, 90 years ago with the same person and at that time there was no pressure of Gandhi Ji on him either. His inner voice told him that he was required to run the municipality and it would not be fair if he occupies the seat through his own casting vote. It would be rather better if I give my casting vote to the opposition and install them in the office and he insured the victory of opposition. Whether these things are of some use or not for our small time political workers to learn something? And if these things are of some use then whether we should publicize them or not? And I’m trying to do just that. You just imagine it’s not a very old history, it’s the period of 1947 or 1948.  

Today, even if someone is a political bigwig and if he asks a chairman of some municipality that: brother, it’s okay that everything belongs to you, I admit that, but I want you to leave this office? Will anybody give up? Whether it is somebody’s ancestral property? Whether his/her parents earned it by the means of hard work? People have given somebody a chance in democracy, and it is given for five years and if there is a need to give it up after the three years. Will anybody please tell me whether anyone will give up that position? And I don’t know if someone agrees to give it up then what else will he seek. However, we know it very well that no one gives up these things. Even in functions like these, if some important guest turns up and we are expected to leave our seat for him then we will act in a manner as if we haven’t seen him. This is basic nature of humans. If we take a bus or travel in an aircraft and the seat next to us is vacant and some other passenger turns up when the aircraft, the bus was about to leave; that seat was not for us, it was lying vacant and we have placed some belongings on it then we feel so bad that why that person has turned up as we will have to remove our belongings from that seat. Am I telling the truth or not? But you believe in this thing that I’m not talking about you individually.

It’s human nature. But just imagine about the personality of this great soul. What kind of inner power was in the personality of Sardar Saheb that those princes and kings whose forefathers had acquired the authority due to the strength of their swords, due to their valor, due to sacrifices of their ancestors but when Sardar Saheb told them that now the time had changed and the country was being awakened then they formally gave up those things in no time. They surrendered their princely states, their rules inherited from their ancestors on the appeals made by an individual. You just imagine the greatness of the personality of that man.

I’m from Gujarat. And in Gujarat, it’s been a matter of some kind of one upman-ship between Kshatiryas and Patels from quite some time. Patels, mostly a cultivating community, felt that people used to oppress them. Other party felt that they were the rulers and Patels don’t understand these things, this kind of things were there in our society that who is big, who is not. You just imagine that son of a Patel was telling to Kshatriyas, to the ruling community to give it up and those Kshatiryas gave it up by following the advice of a son of a Patel. What can be a bigger strength in society than this? How powerful this thing is? And if I see those things in that context, then every aspect is an effort to reveal the prowess of Sardar Saheb.

A digital museum has been set up here. It can never represent Sardar Patel in his totality. Even if all of us make a collective effort even then Sardar Saheb was so great that something or some other thing about him will be eventually missed out. But all of us have collectively made this effort. And I can claim only this much that we have tried to open a window to see, to understand Sardar Saheb in his entirety, I don’t claim anything beyond that. Modern technology has been used thoroughly, an attempt has been made to revive or relive the events and the fundamental lesson that is there in all this is that it’s the responsibility of today’s generation to strengthen the unity of India. We witness these things day in and day out. It appears that we are looking for the ways to create rift. As if we have been sitting with a microscope to search in every corner something to create rift and immediately grab the opportunity. Create rift, divide people, create mischief. This country which is full of diversity can’t be run like this. We have to consciously live and follow the formula of unity and will have to demonstrate it. And in a way we will have to internalize that as a part of our cultural heritage and we will have to make it percolate through the generation after generation.

We can’t allow this country to disintegrate like this and in such a situation the life and message of this kind of great soul come to our aid. And history bears testimony to this thing that this country was divided despite being capable, due to this feeling of us and them, due to internal divisions,. There was a great soul 400 years ago, named Chanakya, who had successfully tried to unite the entire India, and he was succeeded to extend the boundaries of India to a great extent at that time. After him Sardar Saheb was the person who carried out this task. This should be our effort; you must have seen that if one of our children learns Spanish language then whichever guest visits our family then we try to show a sample of it to them that my son knows Spanish, my daughter knows French. It’s good thing, I am not criticizing this. Everyone feels that it is necessary for his career. But we never take pride in these things that although we have been born in Punjab but one of my son speaks fluent Malyalam, or this that we are from Odisha but we used to speak Marathi fluently, or our son knows Marathi poems. We have a child, he/she listens Ravindra Sangeet on radio every morning, he/she likes Bengali songs very much, he/she likes Ravindra Sangeet very much, why we should not have a feeling like this.  I stay in Punjab but if sometimes guests visit us then I can say that I know how to cook a Dosa, we have learnt all these things. If I visit Kerala and if someone says: Modi Ji you have come here, let me buy Dhokla for you. Our interaction has gone up to some extent due to these things. However, we should make conscious effort to know more about our country and should live like that. We should expand our horizon. It’s true that I am born in a state, I’ve been educated in a particular language but this is my country, the entire country belongs to me. I should associate myself with it. This feeling of pride will show us the path of living the life by following the formula of unity.

We have a lot of strife over the issue of whether to accept Hindi as the language or not. But if we carefully adopt all the languages then there is no scope for rift. You see sometimes we use English word if we don’t find an appropriate word in our own language then we easily use the English word. But have you ever thought that as you take help of English word if you don’t find a proper word in your language but if we look at Marathi or Bengali or Tamil to find out what a good word they have used for this thing and why should not we adopt it. But we don’t have any idea about these things and we should liberate ourselves from this ignorance, we should first try to know our country.  

It’s a small attempt. We should identify 100 sentences of common use like: how have you been, where can we find good food nearby, how much is the population of this city, where is the stand for auto rickshaws, these kind of small questions; I am feeling unwell whether there is a doctor nearby, such kind of small sentences. And these sentences are available in every language. The day people will have these things handy; and it is available online, they will feel that we are going to Kerala let’s keep these 100 sentences in mind, we will not face any problem, we can communicate with the help of these sentences, it will help us.

Today, we have been launching: our own legacy – Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat - through this program. And the initial effort is this that everyone in the country needs to be global and I’m also not against it. One state may associate itself with a state of Russia, one city may link itself with a US city why don’t we do these things that I associate myself with one of the cities, one of the states, with one of the universities of my own country. These are natural things that increase our strength. Today, the six states that have entered into an agreement with other states, it means that these states will do this kind of things with the other states so that they can understand each other better, so that they can cooperate and become partners in the journey of the development. And we don’t have to have program of complex nature, it should be light natured. Suppose Kerala entered into an agreement with Maharashtra, or it’s between Odisha and Maharashtra. Whether we will tell those schools and college of Maharashtra that will go on a tour in 2017 that they must go to Odisha. And those who will go on a tour in 2017 from Odisha, we should tell them that you keep going on tours but this time you should go to Maharashtra. Then we can also decide this thing that if a particular university visits a particular district then the other university will go to that district, we can link them.

Earlier, people used to stay in Dharmshala or hotels, this time it can be decided that if you have come under this scheme, if 100 students have come then your these 100 students will stay with the families of our 100 students - 100 families. And when they will stay with a family then they will observe how they get up, how they worship in the morning, what they have in their breakfast, what are the varieties, what is the behavior with parents; they will internalize all those things automatically. And the expenses on tours will also come down. Expenses immediately attract my attention.

Now please tell me. These days I have seen that there is a rise of nationalist feeling in the country. Everybody lights a lamp on Diwali but he also sees the soldiers of the country. He also sees the sacrifices made by the soldiers, this feeling has been generated. Can we find five good songs, if people of Maharashtra if they start singing five Odia songs in their schools and Odia students if they start singing five Marathi songs and you can tell what kind of feelings will be generated when they will meet. There is a saying in our area that no matter which language we speak but the central thread of our idioms remains common. Words may be different, expression may be different but when we listen them and when we understand the meaning then we will say: you know this idiom is there in our Haryanvi language as well, sometimes we also say like this. It means that there is strength to connect us we just need to know that we talk the same thing. It means that you and I are not different despite our different languages. It means we are not different even if our attires, our food are different. This feeling will be automatically there that we are one.

In our country, plenty of ways have been found for creating strife and we have taken unity for granted and because of that this we are not able to see what kind of destruction this separatism has wrought in the country. In the last 50 years we have allowed so much vice to penetrate us that it’s difficult for us to figure out that these are actually vices. They have penetrated to that extent. So we have to consciously adopt those things that unite us and I don’t want to keep it confined to just schools and colleges. Suppose the farmers of Odisha have been doing wonderful things in the field of fisheries, they have good catch even from small ponds and they have good market. But they can also teach people of Maharashtra how to have good fish production through small ponds. People from Maharashtra can visit Odisha and they can learn how to catch good fishes, more fishes, they can learn, they can teach. It’s financially beneficial as well. Suppose they cultivate paddy, what is their way to cultivate rice. There is more water but it’s difficult to cultivate rice then can they be taught how to cultivate paddy with less water. Their yield is high, how can we train our farmers. Whether it can become a reason for agricultural revolution or not? If the farmers from two different regions share their experiences without the help of any university then it’s possible that they can give a novel thing to the world.

Films; today dubbing can be done and it’s not very costly either. Suppose if Maharashtra organises a film festival for Odia films. Will it create trouble for Bollywood? No. But they should not organize it in Mumbai, they should do it somewhere else. Suppose Odisha  organises a film festival for Marathi films. Languages could be easily understood. Can we organize a joint conference of all the MLAs of Maharashtra and Odisha and we should only discuss the virtues of both the states. Even the opposition parties of Odisha will have to say nice things, similarly opposition parties of Maharashtra will have to say nice things only. When all of them collectively talk about good things then it will pave the way for going towards the goodness.

I mean to say that in our country we have a lot to learn, understand and gain from each other. Our lack of knowledge, our indifference have become the biggest hurdle. We want to convert Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat into a people’s movement, we specially want do this thing. Today, this massive movement has been launched on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Sardar Saheb. It is aimed only at uniting people and in order to do this we don’t have to administer a new injection of unity. It has gathered dust, we just need to remove that and reignite the flame, we have to reignite the spirit. Given this thing, I’d specially urge you people that you must visit the exhibition even if you are in a hurry and please also inspire others. It’s not like that only students should visit this exhibition, even the enlightened people of society should develop a habit to visit these exhibitions with family so that they can come to know who were the great souls of the society and what they did. And there cannot be a bigger inspiration than the lives of those great souls. I’m confident that this effort is not just a tribute to Sardar Saheb but it’s a proven attempt to follow the path shown by Sardar Saheb to us.

Once again I congratulate Partsharthi Ji and his entire team for this mammoth task. Today, as you have seen this museum, I have just made an attempt with regard to these things related to our freedom struggle. I’m telling you a truth that we have done a great injustice with the people of the country. It was not a movement of leaders. The freedom struggle was a movement of common people. Very few people would be aware about the contribution of tribal and Birsa Munda in the freedom struggle of 1857, we can’t even think of it. But you people would not be aware about it, you people might not have been taught about it. We have decided that we will have a virtual museum on the contribution of tribals in India’s freedom struggle in those places where there is tribal population in states or wherever events related to tribals have occurred. People of this country have given us so much and we should make effort to understand all this. I want to gradually take this thing forward and these things can be accomplished in low budget and in small places due to use of technology. And the visitor can understand all these things very well within the limited time available with him. He can take more advantage of it due to use of 3D technology. It can also become a medium of learning for kids because it is interactive. Under this ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtra Bharat’, I have a vision that the states should create a data bank of minimum 5,000 questions related to them. It should have questions and answers related to the state and it should be available online like who was the first hockey player from the state, who was the first player of Indian Kubaddi from the state, who were the national players. Which monument was constructed by whom and when? Where Chhatrapati Shiva Ji Maharaj used to live? It should have all the history, all the folklores, a bank of 5,000 questions then they should organize a quiz competition, organize it at state level as well. Suppose there is a data bank of 5,000 questions on Maharashtra and 5,000 questions on Odisha. The boys of Odisha should participate in the quiz about Maharasthra and vice-versa. Kids of both the states would automatically understand about Odisha and Maharashtra. A data bank of hundreds of thousands of questions regarding the country can be easily prepared. We can easily grasp what we have not been taught in the class. So it’s an attempt to run ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat at a grand scale by increasing the use of digital technology.

Once again I congratulate all those people who are part of this effort. I respectfully bow down to Sardar Saheb and offer my tributes to him. And I urge the countrymen to work for the unity of the country.


Thank you.