Gandhinagar, Jan. 12: Narendra Modi signed off his two-day investment jamboree with an address in Hindi, simultaneously translated into English for the overseas invitees, where he spoke of the gains India would reap from the Vibrant Gujarat summit.
“One should pay attention to the 121 visiting countries, to what the delegates came and saw, what they will take away with them and what they will disseminate to people back home. They will say, ‘we went to India, to Bharat’,” the Gujarat chief minister said.
“They will say, ‘this is also one India we saw, an India with enormous potential, talent’. This single event has created for the country ambassadors from 121 nations, who, regardless of the colour of their skin and the language they speak, will say something nice about us,” he said.
It was India all the way, with Gujarat relegated to second place, as Modi appeared to set his sights firmly on Delhi 2014 even if his party has not yet named him as its choice.
“Everybody has learnt to say namaste, kem chho,” he said. Kem chho (how are you), the only two Gujarati words he spoke, came after the pan-Indian greeting.
In previous years Modi’s speeches at the Vibrant Gujarat summit, delivered as they are before an audience that includes invitees from outside the state, have been a mix of Gujarati and Hindi.
The Hindi address follows another speech in chaste Hindi last month after his election win. That was all the more remarkable because it was addressed to a Gujarati audience.
“It is an event that has created a bonding with Gujarat. This bonding is far stronger than any branding,” Modi said today, perhaps answering the charge that he uses the summit to enhance his own image after the 2002 riots and the fake encounters.
“Before 2003, God made up my mind for me…. I wanted to change the political outlook. So when I went abroad, I told whoever I met, ‘come to Gujarat, feel Gujarat’,” he said.
“All of us, including me, harbour a fear of the unknown. If you go to Mumbai the first time, this fear will overcome you. But through an event like this, people meet those from other countries.... So if a youth has to go to New Zealand, he will have a mental picture of the country and that sows the seeds of confidence…. This kind of bonding happened because from the beginning, my mantra was to tell people one thing, ‘come to Gujarat’.”
While addressing his most dedicated constituency, the youths, Modi once again looked beyond Gujarat. India needs to discover its “youth power” in the same way Yashodhara in Mahabharata discovered her adopted son Krishna’s “divine strengths” when she forced open his mouth after he had swallowed mud.
“We have to recognise and then harness their skills through the appropriate education and training. Today, a delegation from Britain met me and asked, ‘what do you need from us’? I asked, ‘what will you require from us in 10 years? You will require nurses, teachers, skilled labourers.’ Some people think of exporting Maruti and Ford cars. My dream is to export teachers….”
Making a pitch for his summit, Modi said such events “beam a positive message to the developed countries” at a time the world was “steeped in recession”. The claim was endorsed by Canadian immigration and multi-culturalism minister Jason Kenney, who said if there were “two jurisdictions” that weathered the global downturn, they were Canada and Gujarat.