I am happy to be here today on the occasion of the golden jubilee week of Auroville. Sri Aurobindo’s vision of India’s spiritual leadership continues to inspire us, even today.

Indeed, Auroville is a manifestation of that vision.Over the last five decades, it has emerged as a hub of social, cultural, educational, economic and spiritual innovation.

Friends,

It is important today to remember the vast extent of action and thought of Shri Aurobindo.

A man of action, a philosopher, a poet, there were so many facets to his character. And each of them was dedicated to the good of the nation and humanity.

In the words of RabindraNath Tagore:

Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee!

O friend, my country's friend, O voice incarnate , free,

Of India's soul!

 

Friends,

 

As The Mother had observed, Auroville was to be a universal town. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.

The large gathering here today, is a reflection of that idea. For ages, India has been a spiritual destination for the world. The great universities of Nalanda and Taxila hosted students from all over the world.  Many of the world's great religions were born here. They motivate people from all walks of life,) to take to a spiritual path in their day to day dealings.

Recently, the United Nations has declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga, recognizing a great Indian tradition. Auroville has brought together men and women, young and old, cutting across boundaries  and identities.

I understand that Auroville’s Charter was hand-written in French by the Divine Mother herself. According to the Charter, the Mother set five high principles for Auroville.

The first high principle of Auroville is that it belongs to all humanity. This is a reflection of our ancient credo of VasudhaivaKutumbakam -- the world is one family.

I am told, that the inauguration ceremony of Auroville in 1968 was attended by delegates of 124 nations. I learn that today, it has over two thousand, four hundred residents from forty-nine countries.

This leads us to the second high principle of Auroville. Anyone who is willingly in service of the Divine Consciousness is entitled to live in Auroville.

Maharishi Aurobindo’s philosophy of Consciousness integrates not just humans, but the entire universe.This matches with the ancient saying in the Ishavasya Upanishad.This has been translated by Mahatma Gandhi to mean “everything down to the tiniest atom is divine”.

The third founding principle of Auroville is that it will emerge as the bridge between the past and the future. If one looks at where the world and India were in 1968 when Auroville was founded, the world was living in compartments and in a state of cold war. The idea of Auroville saw the world getting integrated by trade, travel and communication.

Auroville was conceived with the vision of enveloping the whole of humanity in one small area. This would show that the future would see an integrated world. The fourth founding principle of Auroville is that it will connect the spiritual and material approaches of the contemporary world. As the world progresses materially through science and technology, it will increasingly long for and need spiritual orientation for social order and stability.

At Auroville, the material and the spiritual, co-exist in harmony.

The fifth basic principle of Auroville is that it will be a place of un-ending learning and constant progress, so that it never stagnates.

The progress of humanity calls for continuous thinking and re-thinking, so that the human mind does not become frozen into one idea.

The very fact that Auroville has brought together such huge diversity of people and ideas makes dialogue and debate natural.

Indian society is fundamentally diverse. It has fostered dialogue and a philosophic tradition. Auroville show-cases this ancient Indian tradition to the world by bringing together global diversity.

India has always allowed mutual respect and co-existence of different religions and cultures. India is home to the age old tradition of Gurukul, where learning is not confined to classrooms; where life is a living laboratory. Auroville too has developed as a place of un-ending and life-long education.

In ancient times, our sages and ‘Rishis’ would perform ‘yagya’ to begin great endeavours. Occasionally, those yagyas would shape the course of history.

One such ‘Yagna’ for unity was performed here exactly 50 years ago. Men and Women brought soils from all parts of the world. In the mixing of the soils, began the journey of one-ness.

The world has received positive vibrations from Auroville, in many forms, over the years.

Be it un-ending education, environment regeneration, renewable energy, organic agriculture, appropriate building technologies, water management, or waste management. Auroville has been a pioneer.

You have done a lot to promote quality education in the country. On the occasion of 50 years of Auroville, I hope you can enhance your efforts in this direction. Serving young minds through education will be a big tribute to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Many of you may not be aware, but I too, have been a follower of your efforts on education. Shri Kireet Bhai Joshi, an ardent disciple of Sri Aurobindo, and the Mother, was an eminent educationist.

He was also my Education Advisor, when I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He is not amongst us today. But his contribution to the field of education in India, is worth remembering.

Friends,

The Rig Veda states: “आनो भद्रा: क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वत:”; Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.

May Auroville continue to come up with ideas to empower the ordinary citizens of this country.

May people from far and wide bring with them new ideas. May Auroville become the centre where these ideas are synthesized.

May Auroville serve as a beacon to the world.

May it be the guardian which calls for breaking down narrow walls of the mind. May it continue to invite everyone to celebrate the possibilities of humanity’s one-ness.

May the spirit of Maharishi Aurobindo and the Divine Mother, continue to guide Auroville to the eventual fulfilment of its lofty founding vision.

Thank You.

***

AKT/HS

Read more: Text of PM's address at Auroville, Puducherry

Continuing its endeavour to promote India’s Heritage, Ministry of Culture is organising a week long diversified cultural carnival ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ in Madhya Pradesh that began at Maan Mandir Fort, Gwalior, today. The festival was inaugurated by Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Mines, Government of India in the presence of Cabinet Minister of Urban Development and Housing Minister (Madhya Pradesh) - Smt. Maya Singh, Minister of Higher Education - Shri Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya, New and Renewable Energy Minister – Shri Narayan Singh Kushwah, and Shri Vivek Narayan Shejwalkar, Mayor, Gwalior. To celebrate our plural traditions, under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in Madhya Pradesh is enjoined with Nagaland and Manipur as its pairing states.  The celebrated festival that began today, will continue to connect people of Gwalior with India’s rich culture tomorrow also and then will travel in the four cities of Madhya Pradesh i.e  Bhopal, Indore, Orchha and Shivpuri from 26th February to 4th March 2018.

Thanking Union Minister of State for Culture (I/C),Dr. Mahesh Sharma and appreciating efforts of Ministry of Culture for bringing this festival to the state of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said, “Culture is the way we Indians live together and remain united. Our Culture is our identity – locally, nationally and globally and we need to regularly celebrate our local culture and cultural acumen and its interface with other cultural spheres around us in any of its manifestations.” He also said – “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is strengthening the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat’s vision which will provide an opportunity to citizens specially youths to experience true spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat.”

The inaugural day witnessed soulful performance of Invocation by Dhrupad Kendra, Gwalior, Dagarvani by Pandit Abhijeet Sukhdane with Pandit Sanjay Aagle on the Pakhawaj, and Mallick brothers from the Darbhanga Gharana of Drupad. The Seven Zonal Cultural Centers under the Ministry of Culture have been reposed with the task of organizing the RSM in Madhya Pradesh.

The festival showcases a titanic variety of tribal and classical art forms from different cities and towns across the country accompanied by dance, music, drama, entertainment and food. Maan Mandir, Fort Gwalior came live to food stalls, showcasing an assortment of regional cuisines. In addition, power- packed performances were delivered by different artists including folk, contemporary etc.

Guests experienced an unparalleled shopping journey viz handicrafts, cuisines, rangoli painting, sculpture, photography, documentation and performing arts- folk.

The second day of the Mahotsav in Gwalior will witness the performance by young maestros like Maestro Sumeet Anand from the Guahar Vani (Dhrupad tradition), Yakhlesh Baghel and Anuj Pratap Singh, (Dhrupad Jugalbandi) and RudraVeena recital by Ustad Bahauddin Dagar.

Apart from this, the other activities have also been planned by the Ministry of Culture during the RSM like Screening of films on the cultural traditions of Nagaland and Manipur and other North Eastern states. Exhibition on conservation of heritage by the Archaeological Survey of India. Food festival with traditional cuisines from different states with special focus on Nagaland and Manipur will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Mahotsav will be spread across the following venues in Madhya Pradesh:

 

  The Man Mandir Fort and few other chosen venues at Gwalior

February 24-25

 The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya at Bhopal

February 26-27

  The Lal Baag Palace at Indore

February 28

   Sheesh Mahal/Betwa river-side at Orchha

March 3

   Maharaja kiChhatri, Shivpuri

March 4

 

 

Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav was conceived by the Ministry of Culture in the year 2015 and after the grand success of the First Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in November-2015, the Ministry of Culture decided to organize it with an intent to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Country in all its rich and varied dimensions, viz Handicrafts, Cuisine, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Documentation and Performing Arts-Folk, Tribal, Classical and Contemporary- all in one place. 

*****

NB/PS

 

 

 

 

Read more: 8th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’- a...

Ladies and gentlemen,

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of SelviJayalalithaaji, I pay my tributes to her and extend my greetings and best wishes to all of you.Wherever she is, I am sure, she would be very happy, to see the happiness on your faces.

 I am glad, today, to be able to launch one of her dream projects– the Amma Two Wheeler Scheme. I am told, that on Amma's70 birth anniversary, seventy lakh plants will be planted across Tamil Nadu.These two initiatives will go a long way in the empowerment of women,and the protection of nature.

Friends.

When we empower the women in a family, we empower the entire house-hold.When we help with a woman's education, we ensure that the entire family is educated.When we facilitateher good health, we help keep the entire family healthy.When we secure her future, we secure the future of the entire home. We are working in this direction.

Friends.

The Union Government has focused on improving "Ease of Living"for the common citizen.All our schemes and programmes have been oriented towards this aim.Be it financial inclusion, easy availability of credit for farmers and small business,healthcare or sanitation, this is the basic mantra, with which the NDA Government at the Centre is working.

Over 11 crore loanshave been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. An amount of 4 lakh, 60 thousand crore rupees has been given to people without any bank guarantee.And most importantly, seventy per cent of the beneficiaries are women.

The success of this scheme, therefore, is proof that the women of India are now stepping out of the age-old shackles, and seeking self-employment.We have taken a number of other steps too, for women empowerment. In the recent Union Budget, we announced that the EPF contribution for new women employees will be reduced from 12 percent to 8 percent for three years. The Employer contribution will remain 12 percent.

Under the Stand Up India scheme, women entrepreneurs will be given loans worth 10 lakh rupees to one crore rupees.We have also made a change in the Factory's Act, and suggested to States, that they allow women to work in the night shift as well. We have also extended maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Under the Pradhan MantriAwaasYojana, the registry of the House is done in the name of the woman.

The Jan DhanYojana has also benefited women in a big way.Out of 31 croreJan Dhan Bank Accounts,16 crore are of women.

The percentage of total bank accounts held by women, has gone up from 28 percent in 2014, to 40 percent now.The Swachh Bharat Mission has given women respect and dignity, which is their right.Rural sanitation coverage in the country has expanded from 40 percent to 78 percent.We worked in a mission mode, to provide toilets for girl children in all government schools.

Friends.

 

The schemes of the Union Government are protecting nature, even as they are empowering people.29 crore LED bulbs have been distributed so far under the Ujala scheme.They have led to a saving of 15 thousand crore rupees in Electricity Bills. They have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by a significant amount.

The Union Government has so far given over 3.4 crore free gas connections under the UjjwalaYojana.As women benefit from a smoke-free environment,the reduction in kerosene usage is also helping the environment.Nine and a half lakh women in Tamil Nadu have benefited so far, from this scheme.

Keeping in mind, the issues of gas supply and sanitation in rural areas, the Union Government has come up with the Gobar-Dhanscheme.The aim is to convert animal

dung and agricultural waste into compost, bio-gas, and bio-CNG.This will raise incomes,and reduce expenditure on gas.

Friends.

More than 24 thousand crore rupees worth of projects are currently being implemented by the Centre, in Tamil Nadu.All these projects have begun after the NDA Government assumed office.They include solar power plants, crude oil pipelines National Highways, and port related works.More than three thousand, seven hundred crore rupees have been sanctioned for the Chennai Metro Rail.

When there was a Congress-led Government at the Centre, Tamil Nadu had received 81 thousand crore rupees under the 13th Finance Commission. After the NDA came to power, Tamil Nadu received One Lakh, 80 Thousand Crore rupees under the 14th Finance Commission.This is an increase of about one hundred and twenty percent.

The Government is working to provide a home to every poor person by 2022. About one crore houses have been built in the last three years.

Tamil Nadu has been given about 700 crore rupees in 2016-17, and about 200 crore rupees in 2017-18, for rural housing.For urban housing, the State has been given over 6000 crore rupees.

Friends.

Farmers in Tamil Nadu have also benefited from the Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojana. I am told that claim amounts worth over 2600 crore rupees have been given to farmers in Tamil Nadu so far, under this scheme.

The Union Government is working towards modernization of fishing in Tamil Nadu Under the Blue Revolution Scheme, we are providing financial assistance to fishermen for long liner trawlers.Last year, we gave the State Government 100 crore rupees, to convert over seven hundred and fifty boats to long liner trawlers. Besides making their lives easier, such trawlers will also help the fishermen earn more.

 India's vast ocean resources, and long coast-line offer immense possibilities.The Union Government is workingon the Sagarmalaprogramme, to overhaul our logistics sector.This will reduce the cost of both domestic and foreigntrade.It will also benefit people living along India's coast-line.

We have announced the Ayushman Bharat scheme in the recent Union Budget.Each poor family will be given the facility of free medical treatmentupto a cost of 5 lakh rupees per year, at identified hospitals.This will help 45 to 50 crore people across the country.

The Pradhan MantriSurakshaBeemaYojana and the JeevanJyotiYojana have provided insurance cover to more than 18 crore people. We have also taken other steps such as providing medicines at economical rates, through more than 800 Jan AushadhiKendras.

We remain committed towards working hard in bringing a positive change in the lives of people.

 I once again pay my respectsto SelviJayalalithaaji.I wish you all the very best.

 

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

 

***

AKT/SH

 

Read more: Text of PM’s speech at the launch of Amma Two...

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that industry should increase investments in agriculture as over 58 per cent of the rural households are dependent on agriculture in India. He was addressing the CII Partnership Summit 2018, in Vishakhapattanam, Andhra Pradesh today. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Shri N. Chandrababu Naidu, the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati and other dignitaries are also seen.

The Vice President said asked investors to look into the tremendous potential for investments. He further said that value addition can be made in agriculture and allied sectors like dairying, fisheries, poultry, food processing, setting up of cold storage facilities and refrigerated vans. Adding value to the farm produce is crucial for increasing farmers income and establishing agri-related industries in the rural areas will not only provide employment but also help in minimizing migration to cities, he added.

The Vice President said that Vital structural reforms like the implementation of demonetization and GST by the Indian government have led to an expansion of the formal economy and brought about increased tax compliance. The number of people, who had filed Income Tax returns increased from 6.47 crore in 2014-15 to 8.27 crore at the end of 2016-17, he added.

The Vice President said that Indian companies need to identify segments of global value chains with higher value addition and low entry barriers in global markets to achieve higher exports in the short term. He further said that connecting to global value chains is critical for Indian MSMEs. Access to technology and internet can be a major factor to allow SMEs to integrate with the global market and e-trade allows SMES to reach out to new export avenues and access to low-cost imported inputs, he added.

The Vice President welcomed the delegates to the Sunrise State of Andhra Pradesh, which is among the top States in the Ease of Doing Business. He further said that this State is endowed with a rich vast mineral resources, long coastline, talented human resources and most importantly uninterrupted power supply. It is endowed with rich natural resources & mineral wealth and boasts of the second longest coastline of 974 kms in the country next to Gujarat and it has 1000km of National Highways, 3 International airports and 5 operational airports, he added.

Following is the text of Vice President's address:

"We have gathered here at a time when India has emerged as one of the growing large economies in the world and the global outlook also looks brighter.

As per the IMF World Economic Outlook of January 2018, the Indian economy is projected to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2017 and 7.7% in 2018.

India is expected to become the third largest economy in the next 10-15 years and grow from $2.3 trillion today to about $8 trillion, with an average income of over $5,000.

As you all are aware, the world economy has undergone tremendous structural shifts due to rising influence and role of the emerging economies across the globe. This has led to a shift of balance of powers between the global north and the global south. This is perhaps the most significant geo-political development of the recent times.

The emerging economies including countries like India, China and Brazil have evolved from being policy takers to policy makers and are playing a significant role in multilateral world bodies.

Vital structural reforms like the implementation of demonetization and GST by the Indian government have led to an expansion of the formal economy and brought about increased tax compliance. The number of people, who had filed Income Tax returns increased from 6.47 crore in 2014-15 to 8.27 crore at the end of 2016-17.

Any tough reform will face teething problems in the initial stages and the same was the case with both demonetization and GST. However, the long-term advantages will definitely outweigh the short-term hiccups which caused a bit of economic slowdown. Well, that period is over now and the economy is on the track to achieve a higher growth.

As a result of strong macro-economic fundamentals and reforms, the Indian economy has been improving steadily. For instance, the Current Account Deficit (CAD), which ranged between 6.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent in the past, is now in the range of 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Similarly, the Fiscal Deficit hovered between 5.9 per cent and 4.5 per cent earlier. Now, it has been brought down to 3.5 per cent. It could have been reduced to 3.2 per cent, but for shortfall of GST revenue by a month.

The major reforms include harmonization of indirect taxes through GST, easing the regulatory environment, facilitating foreign direct investment across all sectors, massive recapitalization of the public sector banks at Rs.2.11 lakh crore to improve credit growth and investment and the implementation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

Various reformatory measures have improved India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business by 30 slots—from 130 to 100.  Friends, today India has emerged as a bright spot in the global economy and investors from around the world are coming here because of a host of advantages the country offers.

The FDI inflows have increased steadily from US$ 45 billion in 2014-15 to touch US$ 60 billion in 2016-17. India’s exports have been recovering steadily over the last several months and grew at over 12 per cent in the first three quarters of 2017-18.

A key item on the reform agenda has been restructuring of the banking system to reduce the non-performing assets. The recently introduced Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is being used by the RBI to speed up recoveries. Privatization as also sale of public sector units is being undertaken in many areas where the enterprises have been consistently making losses.

Apart from implementing reforms, the governments both at the national level and in various States are implementing measures to ensure a conducive atmosphere for businesses to grow. However, every reform should have a human face. There should be equitable distribution of prosperity and the fruits of development must reach the poorest of the poor.

Another area that is receiving top attention is infrastructure growth. Airports, ports, railways, power plants, roads, bridges and hotels, among others, are in an expansion mode. It is estimated that an investment of Rs 43 trillion is required over the next five years in sectors such as power, roads, ports and urban transportation.

India is a young nation with about 60 per cent of the population under the age of 35 years. Various initiatives like Skill India, Start-up India and Digital India have been launched to convert this huge, educated human resource talent into a “demographic dividend”.

India has become the third largest start up eco-system in the world. According to a NASSCOM report, about 1,000 start-ups were added in 2017 taking their number to nearly 5,200. Interestingly a chunk of these start-ups are from Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

With growing middle class, rising disposable incomes, expanding consumer market and the presence of a young, talented work force, the MNCs and other global giants are apparently looking to India. There is also a healthy competition among various State Governments, which are implementing reforms to attract investors.

Friends, another important area that needs the attention of both the government and investors is agriculture. Over 58 per cent of the rural households are dependent on agriculture in India, which is endowed with a vast agro-ecological diversity. There is tremendous potential for investments and value addition in agriculture and allied sectors like dairying, fisheries, poultry, food processing, setting up of cold storage facilities and refrigerated vans. As you all are aware, adding value to the farm produce is crucial for increasing farmers’ income. In view of the important role played by the food processing sector, the government has doubled the allocation to Rs.1,400 crore in this year’s budget. Establishing agri-related industries in the rural areas will not only provide employment but also help in minimizing migration to cities.

On the external front, the global economy is showing signs of pick-up after a prolonged phase of economic slowdown.  According to recent OECD report, global GDP is projected to show a modest rise to 3.5 % in 2017 and 3.7% in 2018 from 3.2% in 2016. Yet the projected rates for global growth are much below pre-crisis averages, especially for the advanced economies as well as commodity exporting countries. This could bring attendant repercussions which might undermine the nascent signs of growth revival.   

Already there are calls for protectionism from the advanced economies which, when implemented, could mean restrictive policies for cross-border trade and investment flows.

Although, India has a lot of trading agreements, both regional and bilateral, the country is yet to fully capitalize on the existing synergies in its Regional Trading Agreements. An example is the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) as South Asian region is the least integrated among all the regions in the world. The regional value chain (RVC) approach could be an appropriate model to foster intra-regional trade by deepening regional processes.

I feel the Indian companies need to identify segments of global value chains with higher value addition and low entry barriers in global markets to achieve higher exports in the short term.

In addition, connecting to global value chains (GVCs) is critical for Indian MSMEs. Access to technology and internet can be a major factor to allow SMEs to integrate with the global market. E-trade allows SMES to reach out to new export avenues and access to low-cost imported inputs.

Finally, I would like to welcome all of you to the Sunrise State of Andhra Pradesh, which is among the top States in the Ease of Doing Business. This State is endowed with a rich vast mineral resources, long coastline, talented human resources and most importantly uninterrupted power supply. Opportunities are aplenty for investors in different sectors, including pharmaceuticals, textiles, food processing, automobiles and electronics among others.

Andhra Pradesh, India’s Sunrise State, is a gateway to growing markets and promising opportunities with many advantages. One among the top states in the Ease of Doing Business.

It is endowed with rich natural resources & mineral wealth and boasts of the second longest coastline of 974 kms in the country next to Gujarat. It has 1000km of National Highways, 3 International airports and 5 operational airports. It has first river linking project. It has two industrial corridors. Its fast becoming a Pharam & Auto hub. It’s becoming a Solar power house with 1000MW installed and 1000 MW coming up.

India poised to be a $10tn eco by 2030, which is four times bigger than its current size, by 2030.

To achieve this country may have to adopt several unorthodox measures. For instance, with around 120 million people set to join the Indian workforce, skilling them in a short span of time is essential, “You cannot do that with conventional education, time frames of educating or imparting skill to people should be shortened” said Barton.

My best wishes for the success of all your endeavors to partner in India’s growth story.  Thank you.

 

JAI HIND!"

***

AKT/BK/RK

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