25 Feb, 2018
My dear countrymen, Namaskar.
Let us begin today’s Mann Ki Baat with a phone call.
Thank you very much for your phone call. My young friends have asked me many questions related to Science; they keep writing on quite a few points. All of us have seen that the sea appears blue, but we know from routine life experiences that water has no colour at all. Have we ever thought why water acquires colour in rivers and seas? The same thought occurred to a young man in the 1920s. The same question gave rise to a great scientist of modern India. When we talk about Science, the first name that strikes us is that of Bharat Ratna Sir C.V.Raman. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his outstanding work on light scattering. One of his discoveries is famous as the Raman Effect.
We celebrate the 28th of February as National Science Day since on this very day, he is said to have discovered the phenomenon of light scattering, for which the Nobel Prize was conferred upon him. This land has given birth to many a great scientist. On the one hand, there has been a tradition of great Mathematicians like Bodhayan, Bhaskar, Brahmagupt and Aryabhatt; on the other, in the field of medicine, Sushrut & Charak have bestowed upon us a place of pride. Right from Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose and Hargobind Khurana to Satyendranath Bose have brought laurels to India. The famous particle BOSON has been named after Satyendranath Bose. Recently I got an opportunity to take part in a programme in Mumbai – the inauguration of the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence. It was interesting to know about the ongoing miraculous accomplishments in the field of Science. Artificial Intelligence aids in making robots, Bots and other machines meant for specific tasks. Through self learning, machines today can enhance their intelligence to a smarter level. This technology can be harnessed to better the lives of the underprivileged, the marginalized and the needy. In that programme on Artificial Intelligence, I urged the scientific community to deliberate on how Artificial Intelligence could help us make life easier for our divyang brothers & sisters. Can we make better predictions of natural disasters using Artificial Intelligence? Can we use it to provide assistance to farmers on crop yield? Can Artificial Intelligence be used as tool to simplify the outreach of health services and modernize medical treatment?
A few days ago, I got an opportunity to accompany the Prime Minister of Israel to Ahmedabad, Gujarat for the inauguration of ‘I create’. There a young person referred to developing a digital instrument that converts the written word into voice. This is to aid those who are incapable of speech to converse normally like any other person. I feel we can harness Artificial Intelligence in many such fields.
Science and Technology are value neutral. They don’t possess any value in themselves. Any machine will work the way we want it to. It entirely depends on us what task we want it to perform. Here human objectives assume significance; the use of Science for the sole purpose of human welfare, with the endeavour to assist human lives touch the greatest heights.
Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, failed many a time in his experiments. Once, on being asked about it, he quipped, “I have devised ten thousand ways of how NOT to make a light bulb”. What I mean to say is, Edison transformed even his failures into his own strength. Coincidentally, I am fortunate today to be in Auroville, the land, the karmabhoomi of Maharshi Arvind. As a revolutionary, he challenged British rule, fought against them and questioned subjugation. Thus, as a great sage, he questioned every facet of life. Extracting answers, he showed the right path to humanity. The relentless quest to ask questions for knowing the truth is very important. And this is the very essence, the real inspiration behind scientific inventions and discoveries. Never rest till every ‘why’, ‘what’ & ‘how’ are answered. I congratulate our scientists, and all those connected with Science on the occasion of National Science Day. May our young generation be inspired for the quest of truth & knowledge; may they be motivated to serve society through Science. I wish them the best.
Friends, safety in the times of crises, disasters are topics on which many messages keep coming in- people keep writing to me. In a comment posted on Narendra Modi Mobile App, Shriman Ravindra Singh from Pune has referred to occupational safety. He writes that in our country, safety standards at factories and construction sites are not upto the mark. Since the 4th of March is National Safety Day, the Prime Minister should include safety in the Mann Ki Baat programme in order to raise awareness on safety. When we refer to public safety, two aspects are very important- proactiveness and preparedness. Safety is of two kinds – one is safety during disasters and the other is safety in everyday life. If we are not aware of safety in daily life, if we are not able to attain a certain level, it will get extremely difficult during the time of disasters. We often read signboards on streets bearing lines such as – ‘सतर्कता हटी – दुर्घटना घटी’ – ‘Lose alertness – invite mishaps’ or ‘एक भूल करे नुकसान, छीने खुशियां और मुस्कान’ – ‘One mistake can cost you dear- rob you of your joy & smile’ or इतनी जल्दी न दुनिया छोड़ो, सुरक्षा से अब नाता जोड़ो – ‘Don’t be in a hurry to leave this world – embrace the culture of safety’ or सुरक्षा से न करो कोई मस्ती वर्ना जिन्दगी होगी सस्ती – ‘Don’t play around with safety, your life will be treated cheap’. Beyond that, these sentences serve no purpose in our lives. Leave aside natural disasters; most of the mishaps are a consequence of some mistake or the other on our part. If we stay alert, abide by the prescribed rules & regulations, we shall not only be able to save our own lives but we can prevent catastrophes harming society. There are times when we come across many slogans on safety at the work place but none following their letter and spirit. I urge the fire brigade under corporations and municipalities to visit school children once a week or once a month and perform mock drills for them. This will have a dual benefit – the fire brigade will undergo an exercise in readiness and the new generation will get lessons in alertness. And all this at no added cost. In a way it will a natural part of the overall learning curve. India is a land of geographic and climatic diversities. As far as disasters are concerned, this country has borne the brunt of many a natural as well as man made disaster, such as chemical & industrial mishaps. Today, the National Disaster Management Authority, NDMA is the vanguard when it comes to dealing with disasters in the country. During earthquakes, floods, cyclones, landslides, NDMA reaches the area within no time. They have issued guidelines; simultaneously they keep imparting training on a regular basis for capacity building. In Districts prone to floods and cyclones, an initiative names ‘Aapada Mitra’ has been launched for training Volunteers. Training and awareness have a very important role to play. Two- three years ago, thousands of people would lose their lives every year due to heat-wave. After that, NDMA organized workshops on heat wave management as part of a campaign to raise awareness in people. Mass participation led to good results. In 2017, the death toll on account of heat wave remarkably came down to around 220 or so. This proves that if we accord priority to safety, we can actually attain safety. I laud the role played by innumerable individuals, citizens who immediately embark upon rescue and relief operations wherever a disaster strikes. And there are numerous such unnamed, unsung heroes. Our Fire & Rescue services, National Disaster Response Forces Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces… these brave hearts go beyond the call of duty to help people in distress, often risking their own lives. Organisations like NCC and Scouts are also contributing in this task; they are getting trained too. Recently we have made an attempt to have joint exercise for disaster management between countries on the lines of joint military exercise involving different countries of the world. India has made a pioneering effort – BIMSTEC, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan & Nepal – a joint disaster management exercise involving these countries was undertaken. It was a novel humanitarian experiment on a large scale. We’ll have to turn ourselves into a risk conscious society. In our culture, we often talk of safety of values; we now need to realize the values of safety. We’ll have to make it part of our life, our being. In day to day life, during air travel, we must have frequently come across air hostesses giving out a rather longish speech, safety instructions at the beginning of a flight. We must have heard it hundreds of times. But today if one of us is taken inside an aircraft and asked about the location of equipments, say life jackets, and how to use them, I can say for sure that none of us will be able to give the right answer. So, was there a provision for giving our information? Yes, there was. Was there a scope of direct visibility when the information was given? Of course there was. But we did not respond actively. WHY? Because by nature, we are not conscious. And that is why our ears hear when we sit in the aircraft, but no one realizes that ‘these instructions are for me’. We experience this in all walks of life. Let us not think that safety is only meant for someone else. If all of us become conscious and aware of our own safety, the essence of safety of society will be inbuilt.
My dear countrymen, in the current budget, emphasis has been laid on turning ‘waste to wealth’ and ‘waste to energy’ through Bio gas, under the Swachch Bharat Campaign. An effort was initiated which was named GOBAR-Dhan – Galvanizing Organic Bio Agro Resources. The aim of this GOBAR- DHAN scheme is ensuring cleanliness in villages and generating wealth and energy by converting cattle dung and solid agricultural waste into Compost and Bio Gas. India is home to the highest cattle population in the world, close to 300 million in number, with a daily output of 3 million tonnes of dung. Some European countries and China use animal dung and other Bio-waste to produce energy. But India was lacking full capacity utilization. Under the Swachch Bharat Mission (Rural), we are taking rapid strides in this direction.
A target has been set to use cattle dung, agricultural waste, kitchen waste to produce Bio gas based energy. Under the Gobardhan Scheme our farmer brothers & sisters in rural India will be encouraged to consider dung and other waste not just as a waste but as a source of income. Under the aegis of ‘GobarDhanYojana’, many benefits will accrue to rural areas. It will be easier to keep the village clean and sanitized, livestock health will improve and farm yields will increase. Biogas generation will increase self-reliance in energy utilized for cooking and lighting. Farmers and cattle herders will be helped in augmenting their income. There will be novel opportunities for newer jobs linked to waste collection, transportation, biogas sales etc. An online trading platform will be created for better implementation of ‘Gobar Dhan Yojana’, it will connect farmers to buyers so that farmers can get the right price for dung and agricultural waste. I urge entrepreneurs, especially our sisters residing in rural India, to step forward, and through creation of self-help groups and cooperative societies extract full advantage from this opportunity. I invite you to become part of the movement comprising clean energy and green jobs, to become a part of the initiative to convert waste in your village to wealth and by converting dung into ‘Gobar dhan.’
My dear countrymen, till date, we have been hearing about the myriad types of festivals – be it music festivals, food festivals, film festivals and many other kinds of festivals. But in a unique endeavor in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, the state’s first ‘Trash Mahotsav’ was organized. The objective behind this festival sponsored by Raipur Municipal Corporation was to generate awareness about cleanliness and the methods using which city’s waste can be creatively used and inculcate awareness about various ways to recycle the garbage. A plethora of activities were organized during this festival, which found full participation of students and adults. Different types of artifacts were made utilizing garbage. Many Workshops were organized to inform people on the entire aspects of waste management. Music performances linked to the theme of hygiene were held and art works were created. Raipur inspired various types of such garbage or trash festivals in other districts too. Many individuals taking initiative on their own behalf shared innovative ideas, held discussions, conducted poetry recitals. A festive atmosphere regarding cleanliness got geared up. The way the school children took part in the entire endeavor was amazing. For the innovative manner in which importance of waste management and cleanliness were displayed in this festival, I congratulate the people of Raipur Municipal Corporation, the entire populace of Chhattisgarh, its government and administration.
Every year on March 8, ‘International Women’s Day’ is celebrated. There are many programs that are held in our country and the world. On this day, women are also felicitated with ‘Nari Shakti Puraskar’ who have performed exemplary tasks in different sectors in the past. Today the country is moving forward from the path of Women development to women-led development. On this occasion, I remember the words of Swami Vivekananda. He’d said ‘The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence’ – This idea of Swami ji about one hundred and twenty five years ago expresses the contemplation of woman power in Indian culture. Today, it is our duty to ensure the participation of women in every field of life, be it social or economic life, it is our fundamental duty. We are part of a tradition where men were identified due to women-Yashoda-Nandan, Kaushalya-Nandan, Gandhari-Putra, these were identities of a son. Today our woman power has shown inner fortitude and self-confidence, has made herself self-reliant. Not only has she advanced herself but has carried forward the country and society to newer heights.
After all, our dream of ‘New India’ is the one where women are strong and empowered and are equal partners in the development of the country. A few days ago, a gentleman had given me a very sound proposition. He had suggested that on 8th March myriad events herald ‘Women’s Day’ Why cannot we felicitate mothers and sisters who have completed 100 years in every Indian village or city,? Can a program of paying respect for such centenarians be held and cannot we reflect upon a life lived long? I liked the idea and I’m bouncing it with you will find many examples of what woman power can achieve, If you look around near yourself many such inspiring stories will appear. I just received news from Jharkhand wherein under the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, about 1.5 million women in Jharkhand – and this figure is not a small one organized a hygiene campaign for an entire month! Under the auspices of this campaign starting from January 26, 2018, these women constructed 1 lakh 70 thousand toilets in just 20 days and made a record of sorts. There were about one lakh ‘Sakhi Mandals,’ 14 lakh women, 2 thousand women Panchayat representatives, 29 thousand water carriers, 10 thousand female cleaners and 50 thousand women masons were involved in this campaign. You can imagine what a mammoth undertaking it was! These women of Jharkhand have shown that women power is an integral component of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, which will change the course of the campaign of cleanliness in general life, the effective role of hygiene in the nature of the people ingeneral.
My dear Brothers and sisters, I was just watching the TV news two days ago that electricity has reached three villages of the Elephanta island after 70 years of independence, and this has led to much joy and enthusiasm among the people there. You all know very well, that Elephanta is located 10 kms by the sea from Mumbai. It is a very important tourist destination. The caves of Elephanta are marked as the World Heritage sites by UNESCO and draw tourists from all over the country and abroad. I was surprised to know that despite being such a prominent center of tourism its close proximity from Mumbai, electricity hadn’t reached Elephanta after so many years of independence. For 70 years, the lives of the denizens of three villages of the Elephanta Island, Rajbunder, Morbandar and Centabandar, were engulfed by darkness, which has got dispelled now and there is brightness in their lives. I congratulate the administration and the populace there. I am glad that now the villages of Elephanta and the caves of Elephanta will be lighted due to electrification. This is not just electricity, but a new beginning of a period of development. There is no greater contentment and joy than the fact that the lives of the countrymen be full of shine and there be happiness in their lives.
My dear brothers and sisters, we just celebrated the festival of Shivaratri. And now the month of March beckons us with ripe crops in the fields, playful golden earrings of wheat and the captivating blossom of mango pleasing to the mind are the highlights of this month. But this month is also very special to all of us because of the festival of Holi. On 2nd March the entire country immersed in joy will celebrate the festival of Holi. In The festival of Holi, the importance of colors is as important as the ceremony of ‘HolikaDahan’ because it is the day when we burn our inherent vices in the fire. Holi makes us forget our rancours and gives us an opportunity to be a part of each other’s happiness and glad tidings, and it conveys the message of love, unity and brotherhood. I wish a very joyous festival of Holi to all my countrymen, I further wish you colour laden felicitations. I wish and hope that this festival forever remains a festival of colourful cheer in the lives of all the countrymen- this is my wish. My dear countrymen, thank you very much.
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