The Telegraph
Monday , November 30 , 2015

Xmas & Noor on Mann, not intolerance

New Delhi, Nov. 29: Narendra Modi today addressed the nation but, for the second time in two days, refrained from mentioning the recent incidents of intolerance that have claimed lives and exposed artists, academics and celebrities to abuse.

Delivering his monthly radio broadcast, Mann Ki Baat, the Prime Minister spoke on a range of subjects from floods in Tamil Nadu and disaster management to organ donation, from how paddy-stubble burning worsens pollution to how LED bulbs help save energy.

But he remained silent on what has been billed the intolerance debate, as he had been in the Lok Sabha on Friday while participating in the discussion on "Commitment to the Constitution".

He did, however, mention Christmas while speaking on festivities today, and the two individuals he asked the country to emulate were Muslims.

Modi cited terror victim Javed Ahmed in the context of fighting disability ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday. He highlighted Kanpur village widow Noor Jehan's example in connection with energy conservation.

Ahmed had suffered a debilitating spinal injury during a 1996 terrorist attack in Kashmir. Instead of becoming despondent, he devoted his life to improving infrastructure for the physically challenged in public places besides teaching children.

Noor Jehan - not particularly lettered, according to Modi who learnt about her from a television report - has set up a unit with other women to make solar energy lanterns and provide the additional service of charging them daily. At a nominal cost, she has helped light up several poor homes, Modi said.

"I'm extremely happy that the Prime Minister took my name and praised my work; it's a morale booster," Noor Jehan, 55, was quoted in a PTI report.

Scores of BJP politicians and journalists flocked to her home in Beri Dariyawan, 25km from Kanpur, after the Prime Minister's address.

Modi lauded Noor Jehan for living up to her name by "giving light to the world", and added: "Her work can be an inspiration for all those who want to fight climate change."

The Prime Minister also appeared to be trying to build bridges with civil society organisations, whom as a sector his government has placed under greater scrutiny.

He made two references to civil society organisations and their efforts in capacity-building for disaster management. He also sought suggestions on this sector's role in the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme his government launched on Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary, October 31.

He also took two calls from listeners. Both callers had questions relating to the subjects he had chosen to speak about, making the interaction a part of his narrative.

This was the 14th edition of Mann Ki Baat, which began on Gandhi Jayanti last year. Modi has mostly steered clear of political issues on this programme but did dwell at length on the one rank, one pension row earlier this year.

In January, he had shared this platform with visiting US President Barack Obama.

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