New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a broadcast on Sunday recalled the "dark night" of Emergency when thousands of political activists were arrested and the country had virtually become a "prison".
In his monthly radio address 'Mann Ki Baat', Modi, who is currently in the US, also greeted the nation on Eid and Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, lauded a cleanliness initiative by a Muslim majority village in Uttar Pradesh and construction of 10,000 household toilets in 71 gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh.
He also touched upon the latest achievements of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the international reach of yoga and the empowerment the GeM (government e-marketplace) and schemes like Mudra are bringing about while again asking people to replace welcome bouquets with books or khadi handkerchiefs. He also urged people to encourage their children to play sports instead of just confining them to studies.
"June 25, 1975, was a dark night that no devotee of democracy, no Indian can ever forget," Modi said in the 33rd edition of his address, recalling that during that period, the country had virtually become a "prison", with the opposition's voice smothered and the press completely muffled.
"The judicial system too could not escape the sinister shadows of the Emergency. The present-day students of journalism and the champions of democracy have been endeavouring towards raising awareness about that dark period, by constant reminders, and should continue to do so," he said.
Modi also recited a poem written by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the completion of one year of Emergency wherein he longed for the end of restrictions and return to freedom. Vajpayee was in jail at that time.
Modi mentioned how residents of Mubarakpur village in Uttar Pradesh's Bijnor district returned Rs government funds meant for constructing toilets, and used their own money for the purpose.
"During this holy month of Ramazan, these Muslim brothers and sisters (of Mubarakpur village) returned this money to the government, saying, they would construct these toilets with their own labour and their own money; and that this sum of 17 lakh rupees be used for providing other facilities in the village.
"I'm happy to see that cleanliness is no longer confined to being a government programme. It is getting transformed into a movement by the society and the people," he observed.
Modi also lauded the efforts of administration and people of Andhra's Vizianagaram where the district administration undertook a 100-hour non-stop campaign with people's participation to construct 10,000 household toilets in 71 gram panchayats in March this year.
"You will be happy to learn that the administration and the people together did construct 10,000 toilets in 100 hours successfully. Seventy one villages became open defecation free," Modi said.
Modi congratulated the ISRO for its successes.
"If our feet are grounded in yoga, our dreams are eager to transcend the limits in the sky. Just a few days ago, ISRO launched its Cartosat-2 series satellites, a nano satellite and 29 foreign satellites belonging to 14 countries including Italy, Germany, France and Japan," he said.
Congratulating the Indian space scientists, the Prime Minister noted that India's Mars Mission has completed 1,000 days on June 19, though its life was initially deemed to be just six months.
The Prime Minister said that if children are interested in sports, they should be given opportunities and should not be "forced off the playing fields" to be locked in rooms with books.
"They should study as well, if they can do well in studies, they should certainly do so, but if they have the potential and the inclination to do well in sports, that should be encouraged and supported by the school, college, family and all the people around them," he said.
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