Taking a cue from former United States President Barack Obama's famous chant 'Yes, we can', Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said 'Yes, we will create a nation free of corruption.'
Modi was inaugurating the Manorama News Conclave 2019, via video conference from New Delhi on Friday.
“New India' was the theme of the third edition of the conclave, being held in Kochi.
The primer minister said that five years ago people used to ask: “will we?”. “Will we ever be free from corruption, free from policy paralysis. Today people say: we will. We will create Swachch Bharat, we will create a nation free of corruption, and we will create good governance,” he said.
He said the essence of New India was that its people had risen above self-interest and had demonstrated a spirit of sacrifice that would have done Mahatma Gandhi proud.
“Over Rs one lakh crore have been deposited in the Jan Dhan accounts of the poor, the middle class has given up give up gas connections, the elderly have surrendered their train concessions. This is a manifestation of what was spoken a about a century ago by Mahatma Gandhi in the form of doctrine of trusteeship,” the prime minister said.
“Today there is a sincere desire to only be a spectator of transformation but also to play their own part in it. Now even the number of tax payers have increased. People have decided that they want to take India ahead,” he added.
Modi took extraordinary pride in his government's anti-plastic drive. “This has not been done by Narendra Modi alone. The people of India has taken it upon themselves to make India free of plastics. These are extraordinary times and we should not leave any opportunity to transform our action,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said that at the core of New India were individual aspirations, collective endeavours and a spirit of ownership for national progress. “It is about participatory democracy, citizen-centric governance, and proactive citizenship,” he said.
The Prime Minister took a dig at Licence Raj under the former Congress dispensations. “For many years a culture was perpetrated in which aspirations became a bad word. Doors open depending on your contact, success depended on whether or not you belonged to an old boys club. This is all that mattered. 'Licence Raj' and 'Permit Raj' struck at individual ambitions. Today things are changing for the better,” Modi said.
He said the youthful spirit of India was evident in what he termed the “vibrant start-up eco-system” and in the field of sports. “India is now excelling in areas where we hardly mattered earlier,” the Prime Minister said.
He said it were courageous youngsters from small towns and villages who did not belong to established families or had big bank balances who were inspiring the change. “What they have in plenty is aspirations. They are converting aspirations into excellence and making India proud,” he said.
He said that competence alone was the norm now. “It is not about the voice of select, it is about the voice of 130 crore Indians,” he said.
The Prime Minister also shrewdly used the event to emphasise the need to respect diversity of opinion. “Here I am at a forum where perhaps I do not have many whose thought process is similar to mine. But there are enough thinking people whose constructive criticism I greatly look forward to,” Modi said. The presence of Shashi Tharoor in the audience, who had invited the wrath of his party men for calling for a constructive criticism of Modi, was not lost on the audience.
“I believe that there must be a constant dialogue between individuals and organisations irrespective of one's thought process. We need not have to agree on anything but there must be enough civility in public life to hear each other's pint of view,” Modi had the last word.