The world would not have seen the horrors of 21st centurys 9/11 if it had not got oblivious of another 9/11 — when Swami Vivekananda addressed the World Parliament of Religions in the US in 1893, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
“Today is September 11. Before 2001, the world was oblivious of the importance of 9/11. It was not their fault, it was ours because we had forgotten it. And if we had not forgotten it, perhaps the horrible 9/11 of the 21st century would not have occurred,” Modi observed at a function here to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Vivekananda’s 1893 address in Chicago.
He said that it is in “India’s soil, its thinking and its lifestyle” to give to the world.
Referring to Vivekananda’s opening line of his famous speech where he addressed the audience as “Brothers and sisters of America”, flooring the audience with his opening words itself, Modi said it was natural for us to be proud of it but those who are not respectful towards women have no right to take pride in it.
“Will we not fight against evils in our society? I want to ask young people — do we respect women? Do we look at them with a feeling of regard? Those who do, I salute them 100 times.
“But those who fail to see them as human beings, they should think 50 times before clapping at Swami Vivekananda’s ‘brothers and sisters of America’ (speech),” Modi said.
Asserting that he was not opposed to modern concept of celebrating days like Rose Day, Modi suggested that Tamil Nadu or Kerala Days could also be celebrated in northern India as a way of exhibiting unity in diversity.
“Some people oppose ‘days’ celebrated in college like ‘Rose Day’ but I am not against these. Can’t we think of celebrating Tamil Nadu Day in Haryana colleges. Punjab colleges should decide that today they will celebrate Kerala Day, sing their songs, wear their costumes, watch their movies. Then they will ask them about their games, how they are played?.
“Can we not arouse a feeling of pride for every language and state in the country?” he said.
Invoking the ideals of Vivekananda, Modi made an appeal to reject the outdated ideas — ones which may have been sanctioned in the past but have now come to be detrimental to the progress of the society.
He asked youth to inculcate creativity and innovation and not be just “robots”.
“There is no life without creativity. Let our creativity also strengthen our nation and fulfil the aspirations of our people,” he said.
Eulogising the Hindu monk further, Modi said he had championed agriculture revolution and entrepreneurship years before it dawned upon others and his correspondence with industrialist Jamsetji Tata tells us of his ambition for “self-reliance”.
The Prime Minister also admonished those who chant Vande Mataram but litter the street and spit around.
Those in the job of cleaning our streets, Modi said, have the right of saying Vande Mataram before anyone else.
“If there is anyone who should have the right to say ‘Vande Mataram’ before anyone else, it is those children of Mother India who perform the job of cleaning our streets,” he said.
The Prime Minister also advised against preaching about our glorious past to justify the present saying that this should be used only in guiding the future of the country.