By Suresh Bodiwala
CHICAGO: The Indian Gujarati Samuday of North America celebrated 53rd Gujarat Day on Sunday, with chief minister Narendra Modi addressing NRIs across 20 cities of the US.
A large number of Gujaratis gathered at The Meadows Club here to listen to the speech.
In his speech via satellite, Modi spoke about the development in Gujarat during the past ten years and credited six crore people of Gujarat with it. The chief minister said the greatest crisis the country facing today is that of a trust deficit and that it is the need of the hour to rebuild this confidence of the people.
“This break of trust is due to the actions of some people occupying high office…trust is a very big thing. The development in Gujarat is possible because people have trust in each other. Let us recall the values of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and think how this trust can increase,” the chief minister said.
Attacking the UPA Government, Modi said the country is moving to new crises and that happens when the rulers are weak. “China withdraws its forces from our territory, but why are Indian forces withdrawing from Indian territory? Why did we retreat?”
Elaborating, Modi said, “The foreign minister of our nation is addressing an international forum but he reads the speech of another nation! Our soldiers are beheaded but the nation that beheads them, their Prime Minister is fed chicken biryani. That is when questions are raised.”
He added, “They make claims of a strong Government but still there are worries over safety of our women.”
Modi stated his Government is working towards what he called `sarvangi (holistic), sarvasparshi (all pervasive), sarvasamaveshak (inclusive) and sarvadoor vikas’ of Gujarat.
Stressing that development was reaching all corners of Gujarat, the chief minister said, “It should not be that one corner of Gujarat develops. Earlier Governments proudly said there is a golden corridor from Vapi to Mumbai. But is this something to be proud of? We need to also develop Kutch, Banaskantha, Radhanpur; we need to develop our coastline. It has to be Sarvasparshi.”
Taking on his critics who he said have been spreading lies due to politics, he said, “We have changed the nature of development. I know people will start saying things even after this speech. The Feku industry people will get active but the fact is, this is the path that will take Gujarat to greater heights in the coming years.”
Modi recalled that earlier the definition of good roads was that the road from north to south Gujarat was in good condition. But now, the vertical and horizontal road networks have been linked.
Likewise, he said, “some places had good institutes. But did we see if tribal areas have universities? We focused on this. We found out which Tehsil does not have schools to study science. Then we focused on medical, engineering colleges.
“Earlier we had 11 universities. Now in the last ten years that the number grown to 44. Can anyone say no?”
He talked about the specialized universities in Gujarat like the sports university, the forensic science university. “They (his opponents) will say that forensic science department was already there. We say our contribution is forensic science university,” the chief minister added.
Modi said, “We have never said there was nothing before Modi came. There were things. But compare the work done in 40 years with the work done in the last 12 years. We have taken development to new heights for the well being of every person. And I say it again, Narendra Modi has not done it. The credit goes to 6 crore people of Gujarat and those who have affection for Gujarat.”
He further said, “Did Narendra Modi invent kites? Kites were there earlier too but was it thought that kites will draw the world to Gujarat? Can someone tell me if the Gir lions were not there before Modi? Yes, they where there. Did Gujarat not have a coastline before Modi? Yes, it did. Everything was there, still tourism was not there. The world came to see Jagannath, but not Somnath. We made the efforts to change that. Yes, there was a coastline but did they use it for any development? Today, 35% of the nation’s cargo is from Gujarat. We have 41 major and minor ports now. Till when will you negate everything? We added new life in the Kutch desert. Modi did not paint the Rann white. It was there. Only that people come here today and it has given impetus to handicrafts industry also.”
Modi spoke about how 24-hour electricity has brought about a big difference in the lives of the people.
On malnutrition, he said, “In 2001 we read the census reports and were alarmed by issue of malnutrition. From 2004 we launched a mission to eradicate malnutrition. And the latest CAG report lauds the Gujarat model. There is a 33% improvement and we have to go further than this too.”
The chief minister said the largest canal network for Narmada waters has come up in Gujarat during the last ten years. Likewise, 18,000 villages have broadband connectivity in Gujarat. “If you want to see the truth about Gujarat, see the number of awards the Congress-ruled UPA has given to Gujarat!” he added.
Congratulating the Gujarati diaspora, the chief minister said, “I am happy that you are celebrating this Gujarat event globally. I bow to everyone who worked and gave their lives for Gujarat. I assure we will never forget their dreams.”
The Chief Minister described Gujaratis as a global community that has always taken people together. “Staying there you have not let Gujarat or India get a bad name. In the true sense, you are our cultural ambassadors and this has given strength to us.”
He congratulated three Gujaratis, including Dr. Bharat Barai, for winning the prestigious Ellis Award.
After his speech, Modi took some questions from the audience.
Among those present at The Meadow Club were known prominent community and city leaders such as Dr. Bharat Barai, Bina Patel, Naren Patel and Sunil Shah. Also present were Mayor Al Larson of Schaumburg; Mayor George Van Duson of Skokie; Tom Schinder, Commissioner of Cook County; Mr. Bruce Rauver, and Pramod Shah, Village Clerk of Skokie.
Many other Gujarati leaders – Bhailalbhal Patel, Niranjan and Pratima Shah, Chhotalal and Hiraben Patel, Amrit and Shashi Mittal, Dr. Umang and Paragi Patel, Mafat Patel, Dr. Manish and Darshana Brahmbhatt, Hina Trivedi, Jesal Patel, Dr. Kamal and Chhaya Patel, Dr. Indrajit and Renuka Patel, Ankur Chaudhari, Ravi Suri, Rohit Joshi and Charlie Patel – also participated in this event.