Monday, June 30, 2014


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the hadiths
imam nawawi


  [This page was last updated: 18/05/02]
Hadith 1 Arabic text

It is narrated on the authority of Amirul Mu'minin, Abu Hafs 'Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say:
"Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Sunday, June 29, 2014


FINDING GOD BY SERVING MANKIND: Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) said: God will say, ‘Son of Adam, I fell ill but you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, and how could I have visited You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My so and so servant had fallen ill and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’‘Son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me’. He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have fed You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that with Me?’‘Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink but you did not give Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have given you to drink! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you to give him to drink and you did not give him. Had you given him to drink you would surely have found that with Me’. (Muslim: Abu Hurayrah)


Panchsheel principles still relevant: China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (third from right) and Premier Li Keqiang
(behind Mr. Xi) arrive with Myanmar President Thein Sein (right) and
Vice-President Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on
Saturday. Photo: AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping (third from right) and Premier Li Keqiang (behind Mr. Xi) arrive with Myanmar President Thein Sein (right) and Vice-President Hamid Ansari at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Saturday.

Quoting from one of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s verses on friendship, ‘... If you think friendship can be won through war, spring will fade away before your eyes’, President Xi Jinping on Friday reiterated the virtues of good relations between neighbours, peace and cooperation and amity in the region as envisaged six decades ago in the Panchsheel treaty among India, China and Myanmar. At the 60th commemoration of the Panchsheel here, he asserted that China would follow the five principles of Panchsheel even as it is ready to work with the West to uphold world peace and development.
Without taking names, he frowned upon the practice of one state flexing its muscles while “injustice and inequalities still exist in international affairs.” In his address delivered at the Great Hall of the People, located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square, he stressed the need to revisit the five guiding principles of Panchsheel, which, he said, had been endorsed by a host of international organisations and instruments. The Chinese President said no country should monopolise international affairs and with a word of caution against countries that use the “law of the jungle” by which the “strong bully the weak,” he called for strengthening South-South Cooperation and bettering North-South dialogue.

Mr. Xi spoke of adhering to territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression and non-interference in internal matters, and peaceful co-existence — the basics of Panchsheel, and said these continue to remain relevant and grow.“All good things must evolve,” he said, and asserting a country’s rights over its foreign policy, he said no other state could be allowed to dictate its foreign relations.
India reciprocated its commitment to Panchsheel with Vice-President Hamid Ansari calling attention to the need for greater interaction between the people of India and China in all fields for stronger bilateral relations.

“India believes that globalisation should transform the world into, as Mahatma Gandhi had envisaged, ‘a federation of friendly, interdependent nations,’ without domination or exploitation. Panchsheel is the basis of such a world order. We need to work together to develop a framework for equitable globalisation, for genuine multilateralism, and for seeking common and fair solutions for challenges that transcend national borders and threaten humanity,” he said.

The Vice-President said there was a need for a new paradigm for global action and Panchsheel could act as a catalyst to better coordinate efforts, enhance mutual understanding, share developmental experiences and tackle trans-national threats more effectively.

“We gather here today to reaffirm the timeless relevance of Panchsheel in establishing a peaceful, stable, prosperous and secure world. As the co-originators of Panchsheel, it is our duty to revitalise our friendly relations and to promote cooperation as the only way forward towards the realisation of our common goals of progress and prosperity for our peoples,” Mr. Ansari said.

Stood the test of time

President of Myanmar Thein Sein said the five principles had stood the test of time, matured and become part of the inter-state relations. “Myanmar is confident that the five principles will play a greater role in interstate relations,” President Sein said. He acknowledged the “significant role” played by China and India in helping the economy of Myanmar and said having consistently followed the Panchsheel directives, and a non-aligned foreign policy, his country would cherish friendly ties with all nations, especially its neighbours. 

(Courtesy: The Hindu dated 29th June 2014) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


The lost moral of Islam’s divide 

SHAJAHAN MADAMPAT                                    

With the exception of the Quran, there are no religious or historical references that theSunnis and Shias agree on

the War within:The latest developments in Iraq are an ominous reflection of the deepening of sectarian animosities within Islam. Picture shows a Shiite cleric visiting members of Iraqi security forces, who have joined to fight against ISIS, on the outskirts of Diyala province in eastern Iraq.— Photo: Reuters
the War within:The latest developments in Iraq are an ominous reflection of the deepening of sectarian animosities within Islam. Picture shows a Shiite cleric visiting members of Iraqi security forces, who have joined to fight against ISIS, on the outskirts of Diyala province in eastern Iraq.— Photo: Reuters
The Sunni-Shia divide is increasingly engulfing Muslim societies in many parts of the world in spasms of internecine violence. The latest developments in Iraq with the Islamic State of Iraq and [Greater] Syria (ISIS) making rapid advances towards Baghdad are an ominous reflection of the deepening of sectarian animosities within contemporary Islam. The potential impact of the current turbulence will be felt far beyond West Asia and North Africa. The developments also indicate — especially in light of the marginalisation of the Muslim Brotherhood and other mainstream Islamist outfits in Egypt, Syria and to a limited extent in Tunisia — that political Islam or Islamism will now be championed with much more lethal effect by groups that profess allegiance to radical Salafism, such as the ISIS.

Islamism, defined broadly, is an ideological construct based on a political reading of Islam in both its history and textuality. It argues that the primary duty of a Muslim is to strive for the establishment of an Islamic state, without which Islam will remain a ‘house half-built.’ Salafism (or Wahhabism) is a theologically puritanical approach that argues for a literal reading of the scriptures, shunning all accretions in matters of faith and life. What is common between the two, however, is that they both operate on a binary notion of the world.

The coming together of Salafism and Islamism is nothing new as al-Qaeda perfectly represented the merger of the otherwise irreconcilable worldviews of the two radical streams. In fact, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri personified this coming together of radical Salafism and uncompromising Islamism. The former’s worldview can be traced to the atavistic theology of the 18th century Saudi theologian-activist Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdul Wahhab, while the latter inherited the nihilistic fanaticism of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood icon Syed Qutub. But it is with the outbreak of civil war in Syria that we saw the ‘coming out’ of this dangerous concoction from its hideouts in Afghanistan, Yemen and North Africa. The giant strides they are now making in Iraq are indicative of the changing contours of Islamism on the one hand and the new-found role that this brand of Islamism invented for itself against the portentous backdrop of the Sunni-Shia divide.

Origin of the divide

The origin of this divide — the principal fault line within Islam — goes back 14 centuries to the very beginning of Islam. Interestingly, there was nothing religious about it at the beginning as it was a purely political dispute over which an entire theological and jurisprudential edifice was superimposed later on in order to canonise and perpetuate it into a distinctive clerical order. At the core of the dispute was an impassioned argument over whether the principle of succession in the nascent Muslim state should be dynastic or meritorious. The majority of Muslims in the early years of the faith chose merit over dynasty and argued that the prophet’s temporal and spiritual successors should be selected on the basis of their competence, seniority, knowledge and experience. A minority disagreed and said the basis of succession should be familial rather than meritorious. They believed the temporal and spiritual leadership of Muslim society should remain confined to the descendants of the prophet forever.
They thought Ali — the younger cousin and son-in-law of the prophet — deserved the honour, as he was not only a staunch companion of the prophet but also his closest family member by virtue of birth and marriage. Shia is an abbreviation for Shia’t Ali, the party of Ali, and is built around the victimhood of the prophet’s family following his death. The Sunnis do not dispute the importance of Ali and do not disparage him in any way; they consider him one of the greatest companions of the prophet along with the others, including the three other caliphs who preceded Ali in the seat of power. In a way, the difference between Sunni and Shia approaches to Ali is comparable to the difference between Islamic and Christian approaches to Jesus Christ. While both the religions converge on the greatness of Jesus as a man of God, they diverge on questions of his divinity and deification. Just as no Muslim will ever disparage Jesus, no Sunni will ever speak ill of Ali. Like in the case of the two Semitic religions, it was the differences and not the commonalities that were given accent throughout history, resulting in an entrenched culture of de-sacralisation and demonisation of the other on both sides. The fact that the two sects chose to follow totally different references in their respective approaches to jurisprudence and theology widened the gulf further over the centuries. With the exception of the Quran, which in any case has been susceptible to multiple and often contradictory interpretations, there are no religious or historical references that the Sunnis and Shias agree on.

Point of agreement

What is most interesting in this context is that both the sects agree on the need for an Islamic political system on earth. While the Islamists on both sides argue for the primacy of an Islamic state, the others express minor disagreements on questions of prioritising an Islamic state over those of building an Islamic society. No known mainstream religious organisation among both the sects rejects the idea of an Islamic majoritarian state as a desired eventuality. There is total consensus among all that justice will flourish only in such a state where the Sharia would replace all other sources and methods of legislation. What about justice for those who belong to other faiths or no faiths is a minor detail glossed over by self-righteous rhetoric.
This brings us to one of the most exasperating paradoxes in Islamic history. While the only consensus that ever existed across the sects in Islam has been on the desirability of (an immediate or eventual) Islamic state governed according to the Sharia, the principal divide of all times in Muslim society happened because there was no clear concept of a state or political system in Islam. It goes without saying that the method of electing the ruler is the most basic part of any political system, the absence of clarity on which triggered the first and foremost split among the Muslims. The festering wounds of that split continue to bleed the community to this day.

The Quran and the Prophet’s rich traditions left the choice of political systems or the nature of the state to the wisdom of the people and their circumstances. The followers, however, persisted with their delusional search for a theocratic utopia, denuding a faith of its humane core in the process. The Quran stressed on persuasion in matters of faith while the Islamists saw coercion (with the state being its ultimate and most legitimate instrument) as the only method for preservation of the faith. Iran will do all it can to stop the ISIS warriors in their tracks. ISIS will be happy to eradicate the Islamic Republic of Iran. But both will marshal the same set of arguments for the establishment and perpetuation of an Islamic state as well as for the disempowerment of each other in their respective spheres of influence.

In Iraq, for instance, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his cohorts will be perfectly happy to replicate the Iranian Vilayat-e-Faqih model of state in Iraq and disenfranchise the Sunni minority. The ISIS will be delighted to establish their model of Islamic state and disenfranchise the Shia majority. Both parties will advance the same arguments to justify and Islamise their brutalities. Creation of a hell here in the name of the hereafter is the fundamental objective of all varieties of Islamism, despite their invocation of justice and divine will in every other sentence they write or speak.

(Shajahan Madampat is a cultural critic and commentator.)

At the core of the dispute was an impassioned argument over whether the principle of succession in the nascent Muslim state should be dynastic or meritorious

(Courtesy: The Hindu 21 June 2014) 

Islam’s divide

In response to the article, “The lost moral of Islam’s divide,” (June 21), letter-writer A.K. Merchant (June 23) alleges that the first three Caliphs, by disobeying the Prophet’s command designating Hazrat Ali as his successor, sowed the seeds of the Shia-Sunni divide. This is a wrong and very prejudiced charge. All historical accounts of the succession imbroglio were written centuries after the Prophet’s passing (in 632 AD), as proved by the fact that the four most quoted historians on the issue, namely, Ibn Qutayba, Ibn Asam al-Kufi, al-Yaqubi and al-Tabari, died in the years 889, 926, 900 and 923 respectively.
This huge gap between the said event and its recording, mars the credibility of the narrative and makes it impossible to presume that the Prophet left behind instructions regarding his successor that were disobeyed. For whatever reasons Hazrat’s Ali candidature was rejected, it was certainly not due to any theological differences or personal enmity between him and the first three Caliphs. As for the hadees quoted by Mr. Merchant about the two “precious gifts” of the Prophet — the Koran and his family — it is strongly contradicted by another hadees in Kitab al-Hajj of the same collection (Sahih Muslim) which quotes the Prophet as saying, “I have left behind [just] one thing which if you adhere to, you will never go astray: the ‘Book of Allah’.” There is no mention of the Prophet’s family here.
Nonetheless, what is being unfortunately missed in the continuing Shia-Sunni polemic is that the election of the first four Caliphs is a 1,400-year-old fait accompli. Therefore, it would be grossly imprudent to let it come in the way of establishing an entente cordiale between Shias and Sunnis. After all, the present-day Sunnis hold Hazrat Ali and the Prophet's family in high esteem, and had nothing to do with the tribal politics of Seventh Century Arabia.
A. Faizur Rahman,

Islam’s divide

This is in reference to the rejoinder by letter-writer A. Faizur Rahman(June 25). Profound is the confusion that threatens the foundations of society, and more so with respect to Islam and the causes for its many divisions. If expressing a historical viewpoint is treated as prejudice and if a wrong precedent becomes a fait accompli and taken as correct, then so be it. It is true that when Prophet Muhammad died in 632 A.D., his will as to who should lead the Muslim community after his death was not clearly and legally established. Lying on his deathbed, he had asked for writing material: “Bring ink and paper so that I may lay down in writing for you that which will always guard you from error.” But ‘Umar said: “The pain is confusing him, we have God’s Book; this is sufficient.” Thus his companions quarrelled over whether they should fetch the writing material, and the Prophet sent them away. Soon thereafter, even before the burial rites had been completed, at the instigation of ‘Umar, Abu-Bakr, the Prophet’s father-in-law, was chosen to be the first Caliph during a stormy community gathering. From the beginning, protests were raised by influential Muslims belonging to different tribes against this way of selecting the Leader, and it was recalled that the Prophet had on a different occasion publicly designated his cousin and son-in-law, Hazrat ‘Ali, as his successor.
What has been expressed by Mr. Rahman is another viewpoint. As a non-Muslim I have no intention even to a slightest degree to hurt the sentiments of the followers of Islam. My statements are based on the early Muslim records as to what was the root cause for its divide. During the past 1,450 years, more than 100 sects and sub-sects have emerged which clearly shows that there is no possibility of Sunnis and Shias ever uniting and living in harmony. Historically speaking, more blood has been shed by Muslims killing each other than through fighting with followers of other religions in their bid to achieve power and domination. Is this then the result of sticking to “one thing which if you adhere to, you will never go astray: the ‘Book of Allah’.” My learnings through interfaith dialogue spanning over three decades tell me that the phenomenon of divine Revelation and its resultant influence is progressively challenging humanity to construct a new pattern for sustaining life on our planet. The rising fires of religious prejudice clearly call for decisive action against fanaticism and intolerance. To this end, the article by Shahjahan Madampat (“The lost moral of Islam’s divide,” June 21), is thought-provoking/enlightening.
A.K. Merchant,
New Delhi
(Correspondence on this subject is now closed.)

Friday, June 20, 2014


(Mani Shankar Aiyar is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha)

The only time I met Hillary Clinton - or am likely to meet her - was at a small luncheon hosted by Natwar Singh, then our External Affairs minister. I had been specially invited because Natwar knew I had spent two years in our Embassy in Baghdad (1976-78) and was currently Petroleum Minister, a portfolio with a crucial connect to West Asia and Iran who supplied (and continue to supply) the bulk of our massive crude oil imports. 

I was startled to find that Ms. Clinton did not seem to have heard of either the Battle of Qadisseyah, where in 637 AD the Arabs drove the Persian Sassanids out of Mesopotamia, nor of Ismail I who from 1501 AD started the progressive transformation of Persia into a Shi'ite state, thus imparting to traditional Arab-Persian ethno-linguistic rivalry the sectarian complexion of a Sunni-Shia confrontation whose historical roots go back to the succession to the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). 

The emotional consequences of the assassination of the Prophet's son-in-law, Ali, in 661 AD in the Grand Mosque of al-Kufa, and the military defeat of his sons, Hussein and Hassan, at the hands of the Ummayad Caliph, Yazd's army, at the Battle of Karbala, 680 AD, reverberate down to the 21st century, never more strongly than the present when US intervention in Iraq has brought Shia Iran cheek-by-jowl with Sunni-Wahabi Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Emirates of the western coast of the Gulf that they share with Shia Iran on the other side of the same narrow waterway.

Till almost exactly a hundred years ago, Iran's Shi'ism was principally pitted against the Sunni Turkish Empire of the Ottomans and the Sunni Kingdoms of Central Asia. The dismantling of the Ottoman Empire as a result of their defeat in the First World War led to the emergence of a number of Arab nations generally under the Mandate of Britain or France. Britain got Iraq and the modern history of Iraq begins in 1932 with King Feisal I being placed on the throne of Harun al-Rashid but as a vassal of the British Empire. (As an aside I cannot resist recalling that under the Mandate, Iraq was administered as a district of the Bombay Presidency. So, when on arrival in Baghdad, I asked my Ambassador, the gracious Romesh Bhandari, what were our "larger goals'" in Iraq, he punctured my pompous question by remarking, with a wicked gleam in his eye, that our larger goal was to re-establish that position!)

But to return to our narrative, the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958 and a decade later the Ba'ath Party under Saddam Hussein established its murderous rule. Murderous it might have been but it was also modernizing and secular. Shia and Sunni both were to be found in high office in the Baghdad where I served, both at the ministerial and civil servant level. The presence of numerous women in universities as unveiled teachers and students, as also in high public sector positions, was truly impressive. Any number of minorities, including the Christian number two to Saddam, Tariq Aziz, even the wretched Armenians, were given respect and security (provided, of course, they hailed the Leader). The Iraqis were especially proud of preserving and pointing out to Indian visitors the precincts where Guru Nanak is said to have meditated on returning from Mecca to India via Baghdad. For Saddam, India was so much the secular exemplar to follow, even as India to him was Indira (which is why he held a mass rally in Baghdad in support of her Emergency!) that when she was defeated in the elections of 1977, I saw several Iraqi officials wearing a black band of mourning on their upper arms in the expectation that in India, as in Iraq, the leader would be hanged when their government fell!

My closest encounter with the secular Iraqi state came from being required from time to time to visit Najf and Karbala on the Euphrates to distribute largesse from a fund set up by the Nawab of Rampur in the thirties to support Indian Shias resident in these holy places. After Independence, the administration of the fund had devolved on the Indian government and through it to the Embassy. That too was when I discovered the extent of Sunni-Shia rivalry for the temperature would be hovering near 50 degrees centigrade but Azmi, our English-Hindi-Arabic interpreter, would drink no water. I asked him discreetly whether he was not thirsty and he solemnly warned that since his name gave him away as a Sunni, he feared the Shias would spit in his glass before they served it to him!

All this changed with the ascendance of Ayatollah Khomeini (who, in fact, had spent 14 years of his exile in Najf under the benevolent secular protection of Saddam Hussein, the Sunni). By mid-1978, as my posting was drawing to a close, it became clear that the Shah of Iran's days were numbered. At this, Saddam startled the world by inviting the Shah's sister, the notorious Princess Ashrafi, to make a state visit to Baghdad. All stops were pulled out to make the visit a really grand affair (including all private house-owners with villas on the banks of the Tigris being ordered to vacate their homes to make these available to Princess Ashrafi's large suite) in order the better to signal the Ayatollah that the triumph of a clerico-political Shia order in Iran would be fiercely resisted by the Ba'athist regime in neighbouring Iraq. This reflected the millennial paranoia of the Iraqi Sunni that were the Sh'ia Iranians from in front and the Shias of the Euphrates (Farhat) from behind to clamp their jaws together, the Sunnis on the Tigris (Dijla), to whom Saddam and a large part of his cohort belonged, would simply be snapped up as so much carrion.  

When the Ayatollah took over, and the US hostage crisis began, the Americans (specifically Donald Rumsfeld) saw in Saddam their surrogate who would win for them their war against the Ayatollah. That is when secular Iraq crumbled. Invoking the Battle of Qadisseyah, Saddam, with massive and unremitting US backing, went in to invade Iran. Meretriciously, he called this the Second Battle of Qadisseyah. While the war with Iran ended in a draw (and the worst blood-letting since the Second World War), the Nineties brought on the first Gulf War, followed a decade later by the second, under respectively the two Bush's, father and son. Iraq as a shared home of Sunni and Shia, and a secular buffer state between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, was destroyed. The latest ISIS capture of almost all of Iraq north of Baghdad definitively smashes the buffer and brings Shia and Sunni into eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation over Baghdad. Worse, with US power exposed as hollow and non-sustainable, the field has been cleared for a resumption of the seventh-century Battle of Qadissiyeh, backed respectively by the Sunni Wahabis of Saudi Arabia and the Shia clergy of Iran.

This has been the disastrous long-term outcome of the vacuous American intervention that began with their encouraging Iraq to invade Iran in the Eighties - and all that has since followed. While we might rely on the excellence of our Foreign Service officers to rescue the Indians caught in someone else's war, as they did so magnificently in the two previous Gulf wars and more recently in Libya, what of our political leadership?

From Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi, the careful cultivation of Arab friendships made us the most influential outsider in the Arab world. We began siding with Israel and cozying up to the Americans in Narasimha Rao's time (who, I often think, was perhaps our first BJP Prime Minister). By neglecting our relationship with the Arabs for the better part of the last twenty years, we are now virtually without a voice in a region from where we import 70% of our oil and is host to some 7 million expatriate Indians whose remittances fill our coffers. 

What little influence we had left is now reduced to nil by an inaugural President's Address that studiously and insultingly ignores West Asia and a Prime Minister who does not know the difference between Bhutan and Nepal or Ladakh and Thimpu. How then can we expect him to tell between the Farhat and the Dijla? In this gathering darkness, all we have to rely on is the ever-reliable Indian Foreign Service to which I once had the proud honour of belonging. Allah preserve us from the saffronisation of the Indian Foreign Service. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Makka Masjid-run academy student Mohammed Ashraf cracks IAS exam. Congratulations

Mohammad Ashraf
Mohammad Ashraf
The effort of the Islamic Literacy Movement of India (ILMI) to improve the number of Muslims entering the civil service in Tamil Nadu bore its first fruit on Thursday with a student of its academy functioning at the Makka Masjid on Anna Salai acing the UPSC examinations.
Hailing from Karaikudi, Mohammad Ashraf cleared the examination in his first attempt securing the 1032 rank.
Christened Azhagiya Kadan IAS Academy, the institute, which offers residential training for Muslim youth began in 2012 with a batch of 28 students.
Chief Imam Moulana S. Shamsudeen Qasinin of the Makka Masjid, where the academy is housed, said the idea for the institute stemmed from a realisation that political mobilisation alone will not help the Muslim community forge ahead in the society.
Various committee reports over the years, he said, have pointed to the need for better education in the community. “We believe more Muslims in the civil service would help,” he pointed out. More than 40 awareness drives were conducted across the State to motivate Muslim youth to join the academy, currently sustained fully by donations.
Mr. Ashraf, a former civil engineer with the Chennai Metro Rail Limited, said the environment at the academy, where he studied with many equally motivated individuals, helped him immensely. Administrative officer of the academy, Arif Ahamed, said the academy is set to expand and will take in 100 students for the next batch.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


PM strikes conciliatory note

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the Opposition on Wednesday, saying he sought their cooperation in turning development into a social movement.
In a bid to be conciliatory, he said — as he made his first speech to both Houses of Parliament responding to the debate on the President’s address — that he welcomed the criticism that had emanated from the Opposition benches as it would ensure that the government did not succumb to arrogance: it also meant that that there were great expectations of his government. “Without your support, my mandate is incomplete. So I will seek your support and guidance as we proceed,” Mr. Modi said in the Rajya Sabha, recalling that it was A.B. Vajpayee who led an Indian-delegation to the U.N. when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister.
Occasionally in the course of his 45-minute speech, delivered in Hindi, he struck a lighter note: “One year is more than enough to do politics. “Let’s work together in the first four years and do politics in the last year.”
Speaking at length on the need to tackle poverty, he said his government would pay special attention to Dalits, tribal people and Muslims — this should not be considered as appeasement: “I believe if one organ of the body remains weak, the whole can’t be called healthy? We are committed to this [progress of minorities]. We don’t see it as appeasement.”
Responding to the Congress’s criticism of the slogan Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat , he gave the decades-old slogan of India being a land of unity in diversity a new spin, saying it meant people and parties should exchange the language of division for the language of unity.
In his speech, he invoked the names of several freedom fighters, promising to build an India of their dreams. If Gandhiji’s name was taken repeatedly, with a promise to commemorate the Mahatma’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019 with a “Swacch Bharat (Clean India), Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, too, were mentioned: “By 2022, there should be nobody in the country who does not have a house with water, electricity, toilet. This is the minimum we can do.”

(Courtesy: The Hindu dated 12th June 2014)

Monday, June 9, 2014


Central Hall of Parliament, New Delhi: 09-06-2014

Honourable Members
I am delighted to address this first session of both Houses of Parliament after the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha. Let me begin by extending warm greetings to my fellow citizens, who participated in large numbers in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. We should never forget that we are here because of them. Serving them should be our first priority. I also felicitate the members of the new Lok Sabha. You have successfully obtained the mandate from the electorate and now you represent their hopes, aspirations and dreams. I extend a warm welcome to all of you and hope that the sessions ahead with heavy legislative agenda will be productive and useful.
2. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the recent general elections were smooth and largely peaceful. I would like to congratulate the Election Commission of India and the official machinery for conducting these elections successfully. The unprecedented interest shown by the people of India in the elections is a sign of progressive deepening of our vibrant democracy. Before I dwell upon the tasks ahead of us, I would like to express my solidarity with the families of all those who lost their lives during the election process.
3. I congratulate the new Speaker of the Lok Sabha on her unanimous election to this august office. By successively electing women Speakers, the Lok Sabha has re-affirmed our age-old belief in the importance of women in our society.
Honourable Members
4. This has been an election of Hope. It marks a turning point in the evolution of our democratic polity. The surge in aspirations and the belief that these could be realized through democratic processes, has been amply reflected in the record 66.4% participation by voters, and a clear verdict in favour of a single political party after a gap of nearly 30 years. The electorate transcended the boundaries of caste, creed, region and religion to come together and vote decisively in favour of Development through Good Governance.
5. The country needed a strong and stable government that could provide effective leadership. In my Republic Day speech earlier this year, I had hoped for 2014 to be a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the previous years. Standing here today, I applaud the wisdom of my fellow citizens for having voted for stability, honesty and development in a resurgent India in which corruption will have no place. They have voted for a united, strong, and modern India - “Ek Bharat - Shreshtha Bharat”. My government will work to fulfill these aspirations; with the involvement of all the 125 crore people of this great country.
6. My government is committed to nurturing the right environment for actualizing this mandate of the people. For this, it pledges itself to the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’; which can be fulfilled only through your active participation. We will work together to re-establish the credibility of the institutions of democracy. My government will function on the mantra of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. In all our actions, we will be guided by the core values of our great civilization.
Honourable Members
7. My Government is dedicated to the poor. Poverty has no religion, hunger has no creed, and despair has no geography. The greatest challenge before us is to end the curse of poverty in India. My government will not be satisfied with mere “poverty alleviation”; and commits itself to the goal of “poverty elimination”. With a firm belief that the first claim on development belongs to the poor; the government will focus its attention on those who need the basic necessities of life most urgently. It will take necessary steps to provide security in its entirety to all citizens; through empathy, support and empowerment.
8. Containing food inflation will be the topmost priority for my government. There would be an emphasis on improving the supply side of various agro and agro-based products. My government will take effective steps to prevent hoarding and black marketing. It will reform the Public Distribution System, incorporating best practices from the States. My government is alert about the possibility of a subnormal monsoon this year and contingency plans are being prepared.
9. Despite more than two-thirds of our people living in rural areas; we have not been able to provide adequate public amenities and livelihood opportunities to them. My government is committed to improving the quality of life in our villages, through empowered Panchayati Raj institutions. A substantial part of investment will focus on creating community assets and improving basic infrastructure such as roads, shelter, power and drinking water. My government will strive to end the rural-urban divide guided by the idea of Rurban; providing urban amenities to rural areas while preserving the ethos of the villages.
10. Agriculture is the source of livelihood for majority of our people. In the recent past, our farmers have been under severe stress with hopelessness driving some of them to suicides. My government is committed to reversing this unfortunate trend. It will increase investment in agriculture, both public and private, especially in Agri-infrastructure. Steps will be taken to convert farming into a profitable venture through scientific practices and Agro-technology. My government will address issues pertaining to pricing and procurement of agricultural produce, crop insurance and post-harvest management. Productivity of Animal Husbandry will be increased. My government will incentivize the setting up of food processing industries. Existing cooperative sector laws will be reviewed to remove anomalies and lacunae. My government will adopt a National Land Use Policy which will facilitate scientific identification of non-cultivable land and its strategic development.
11. Each drop of water is precious. My government is committed to giving high priority to water security. It will complete the long pending irrigation projects on priority and launch the ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana’ with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’. There is a need for seriously considering all options including linking of rivers, where feasible; for ensuring optimal use of our water resources to prevent the recurrence of floods and drought. By harnessing rain water through ‘Jal Sanchay’ and ‘Jal Sinchan’, we will nurture water conservation and ground water recharge. Micro irrigation will be popularised to ensure ‘Per drop-More crop’.
Honourable Members
12. India is the world’s oldest civilization. Today it is also a country with the largest population of the youth. We must equip and nurture our youth with the right kind of education, skill-set and opportunity to reap this demographic dividend. My government will strive to transition from Youth Development to Youth-led Development. It will set up Massive Open Online Courses and virtual classrooms. It will formulate a National Education Policy aimed at meeting the challenges posed by lack of quality, research and innovation in our educational institutions. We will set up IITs and IIMs in every state. In order to empower school teachers and students, a national e-library will be established. With the motto of “Har Haath Ko Hunar”, my government will strive to break the barriers between formal education and skill development, and put in place a mechanism to give academic equivalence to vocational qualifications. With the goal of Skilled India, my government will also launch a National Multi-skill Mission.
13. The children and youth of the country need avenues of recreation that develop them constructively and keep them fit. My government will launch a ‘National Sports Talent Search System’. It will facilitate development and promotion of Indian sports, particularly rural sports. Sports will be popularised by making it an integral part of the school curriculum and providing educational incentives.
14. Our country needs a holistic health care system that is universally accessible, affordable and effective. To achieve this objective, my government will formulate a New Health Policy and roll out a National Health Assurance Mission. It will promote Yoga and AYUSH. To address the shortfall of health care professionals, health education and training will be transformed. AIIMS like institutes will be established in every State in a phased manner.
15. We must not tolerate the indignity of homes without toilets and public spaces littered with garbage. For ensuring hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation a “Swachh Bharat Mission” will be launched. This will be our tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary to be celebrated in the year 2019.
16. Keeping in mind welfare of the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and the weaker sections of our society; my government will take steps to create an enabling eco-system of equal opportunity in education, health and livelihood. My Government is committed to see that those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes are able to avail emerging opportunities. For the Scheduled Tribes, my government will launch a dedicated “Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana”. Electrification of tribal hamlets and connecting them with all-weather roads will be a priority area.
17. It is unfortunate that even after several decades of independence, sections of minority communities continue to suffer from poverty, as benefits of government schemes do not reach them. My government is committed to making all minorities equal partners in India’s progress. The government will especially strengthen measures to spread modern and technical education among minority communities and a National Madarsa Modernization Programme will be initiated.
18. The welfare and rehabilitation of specially-abled people is integral to my government’s vision of a caring society. It will take steps to provide dignity of life to them by facilitating their participation in all walks of life. Steps will be taken to identify their special needs and to provide institutional care to them.
19. My government recognizes the important role our women play in the development of our society and growth of the nation. It is committed to providing 33 per cent reservation to them in the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies. With a commitment of “Beti Bachao - Beti Padhao”, my government will launch a mass campaign for saving the girl child and enabling her education. It will structure a comprehensive scheme, incorporating best practices from States in this regard. In the recent past, the country has witnessed some grue some incidents of violence against women. The government will have a policy of zero tolerance for violence against women, and will strengthen the criminal justice system for its effective implementation.
Honourable Members
20. India is a federal polity. But, over the years, the federal spirit has been diluted. The States and the Centre should function as an organic Team India. In order to actively engage with the States on national issues, my government will reinvigorate fora like the National Development Council and the Inter-State Council. The Centre will be an enabler in the rapid progress of States through Cooperative Federalism. State-specific development models will be developed taking into account the special needs and unique problems of Coastal, Hilly and Desert areas. Highest priority will be accorded to bring eastern region of the country on par with western region in terms of physical and social infrastructure. My government is committed to addressing the issues relating to development of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The government will lay special emphasis on improving the intra-region connectivity and border infrastructure in the Northeast as well as in Jammu & Kashmir. The issue of infiltration and illegal immigrants in the Northeast region will be tackled on priority and all pending fencing work along the Northeast border will be completed. Special efforts will be made to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits return to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood.
21. My government is committed to providing a clean and efficient administration focussed on delivery. The institution of Lok Pal is important to curb corruption and my government will endeavour to formulate rules in conformity with the Act. My government will take steps to build the confidence and morale of our bureaucracy; enabling it with the freedom to work, and welcoming innovative ideas. The government will stress on putting in place transparent systems and timebound delivery of government services. Government systems and processes will be revisited to make them citizen friendly, corruption free and accountable. Efforts will be made to eliminate obsolete laws, regulations, administrative structures and practices. Rationalization and convergence among Ministries, Departments and other arms of the government will be ensured to have focussed delivery. Digitization of government records will be done for improving accessibility.
22. E-governance brings empowerment, equity and efficiency. It has the power to transform peoples’ lives. The backbone of my government’s new ways of working will be a Digital India. IT will be used to drive re-engineering of government processes to improve service delivery and programme implementation. We will strive to provide Wi-Fi zones in critical public areas in the next five years. My government will rollout broad band highway to reach every village and make all schools e-enabled in a phased manner. Technology will be used to prepare our children for a knowledge society. The National e-governance plan will be expanded to cover every government office from the centre to the Panchayat; to provide a wide variety of services to citizens. Emerging technologies like Social Media will be used as a tool for; participative governance, directly engaging the people in policy making and administration.
23. My government is determined to rid the country of the scourge of corruption and the menace of black money. As a first step in this direction, the government has already constituted a SIT to unearth black money stashed abroad. This will be followed up vigorously by proactively engaging with foreign governments.
24. Keeping in mind that justice delayed is justice denied, my government will adopt a multi-pronged approach to address the problem of high pendency of cases in our judicial system. It will progressively modernize the courts to improve their operational efficiency, and start reform of the criminal justice system to make dispensation of justice simpler, quicker and more effective. It will initiate a mission mode project for filling vacancies in the judiciary and for doubling the number of courts and judges in the subordinate judiciary in a phased manner. The government will give special emphasis to the development of Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms.
Honourable Members
25. On the economic front, we are passing through an extremely difficult phase. For two consecutive years, our GDP growth has been less than 5 per cent. Tax collection has declined. Inflation continues to be at an unacceptable level. Thus, putting the Indian economy back on track is paramount for my government. We will work together to usher our economy into a high growth path, rein in inflation, reignite the investment cycle, accelerate job creation and restore the confidence of the domestic as well as international community in our economy.
26. My government will create a policy environment which is predictable, transparent and fair. It will embark on rationalisation and simplification of the tax regime to make it non-adversarial and conducive to investment, enterprise and growth. My government will make every effort to introduce the GST while addressing the concerns of States. Reforms will be undertaken to enhance the ease of doing business. My government will follow a policy of encouraging investments, including through FDI; which will be allowed in sectors that help create jobs and assets.
27. For rapid creation of jobs in the manufacturing sector, the government will strategically promote labour-intensive manufacturing. Employment opportunities will also be expanded by promoting tourism and agro-based industries. My government will transform Employment Exchanges into Career Centres - connecting our youth with job opportunities in a transparent and effective manner through the use of technology as well as through counselling and training. The government will strengthen the pension and health insurance safety nets for labour force of all categories and would provide them access to modern financial services.
28. We need to transform ourselves into a globally competitive manufacturing hub powered by Skill, Scale and Speed. To this end, the government will set up world class investment and industrial regions, particularly along the Dedicated Freight Corridors and Industrial Corridors spanning the country. My Government will encourage the domestic industry to innovate and collaborate internationally. It will strive to move towards a single-window system of clearances both at the Centre and at the States through a hub-spoke model.
29. To strengthen our share in global trade, procedures will be simplified and trade infrastructure strengthened so as to reduce transaction time and costs. The SSI and Handicraft sectors will be encouraged by providing them enhanced technological, marketing and investment support. Export potential of this sector will be encouraged. My government will make every effort to improve the working conditions of our weavers in particular. It will also set up a task force to review and revive our MSME sector.
Honourable Members
30. Lack of robust infrastructure is one of India’s major impediments. The government will chalk out an ambitious infrastructure development programme to be implemented in the next 10 years. A fast-track, investment friendly and predictable PPP mechanism will be put in place. Modernization and revamping of Railways is on top of the infrastructure agenda. My government will launch a Diamond Quadrilateral project of high speed trains. The country will have a network of freight corridors with specialised Agri-Rail networks for perishable agricultural products. Investment in railways will be increased using innovative financing methods. Expansion of railways in Hilly States and Northeast region and modernization of rail safety systems will be prime focus areas. We will encourage R&D and high level local manufacturing for railway systems. A fast, time-bound and well monitored programme for execution of the National Highways programme will be initiated, to overcome the stagnancy of the past few years. Low cost airports will be developed to promote air connectivity to smaller towns. The government will evolve a model of Port-led development. Our long coastline will become the gateway for India’s prosperity. My government will facilitate modernization of existing ports on one hand, and development of new world class ports on the other. Stringing together the Sagar Mala project we will connect the ports with the hinterland through road and rail. Inland and coastal waterways will be developed as major transport routes.
31. My government will come out with a comprehensive National Energy Policy and focus on development of energy related infrastructure, human resource and technology. The aim of the government will be to substantially augment electricity generation capacity through judicious mix of conventional and non-conventional sources. It will expand the national solar mission and connect households and industries with gas-grids. Reforms in the coal sector will be pursued with urgency for attracting private investment in a transparent manner. The international civil nuclear agreements will be operationalized and nuclear power projects for civilian purposes will be developed.
32. My government is conscious of the fact that our urban infrastructure is under severe stress. Soon, 50 per cent of our population would be residing in urban areas. Taking urbanization as an opportunity rather than a challenge, the government will build 100 Cities focussed on specialized domains and equipped with world class amenities. Integrated infrastructure will be rolled out in model towns to focus on cleanliness and sanitation. By the time the nation completes 75 years of its Independence, every family will have a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24x7 electricity supply and access.
Honourable Members
33. While putting the country on a high growth path, my government will keep sustainability at the core of our planning process. My government strongly believes that environmental conservation can go hand in hand with development. To achieve this, environment and forest clearance systems will be made more predictable, transparent and time-bound. Simultaneously, an effective system will be developed for sound appraisal processes and strict compliance of clearance conditions, especially those relating to rehabilitation of displaced communities and regeneration of forests. Cleaner fuels will be promoted to bring down pollution levels in our cities. The government will earnestly take up mitigation works to meet the challenges posed by climate change and will closely work with the global community in this regard. Conservation of Himalayan ecology will be a priority area for my government. A National Mission on Himalayas will be launched.
34. In the recent past, serious concerns have been expressed regarding use of discretionary powers in allocation of our precious natural resources. The government will formulate clear and transparent policies on allocation of critical natural resources such as coal, minerals and spectrum.
35. River Ganga is a part of our rich cultural heritage, a symbol of faith and the lifeline for millions. However, Ganga continues to remain polluted with many stretches of the river becoming dry in lean season. My government will take all necessary steps to ensure a perennial, clean and pristine Ganga.
36. Our rich cultural heritage is the very foundation on which rests the unity of our diverse nation. Indian languages are repositories of our rich literature, history, culture, art and other achievements. My government will launch a national mission “e-Bhasha” that will develop digital vernacular content and disseminate our classic literature in different languages. My government will also provide the required resources for the maintenance and restoration of national heritage sites.
37. India has a vast untapped potential for tourism which can play a special role in our socio-economic progress. The government will initiate a mission mode project to create 50 tourist circuits that are built around specific themes. With a view to encouraging pilgrimage tourism, a National Mission for beautifying and improving the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths will be launched.
38. My government recognises the central role of Science and Technology in raising the quality of life. It will encourage and incentivise private sector investments, both domestic and foreign, in science and technology and in high-end research aimed at nurturing innovation. My government will build world class research centres in the fields of nanotechnology, material sciences, thorium technology, brain research, stem cells, etc. The government will also establish institutes of Technology for Rural Development and a Central University of Himalayan Studies.
Honourable Members
39. The government will maintain utmost vigil in the area of internal security. A policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, extremism, riots and crime will be pursued. The States will be assisted for modernizing police infrastructure and equipment to tackle new forms of terrorism including narco terrorism and cyber threats. A national plan will be chalked out in consultation with the state governments to effectively curb incidents of communal violence and the challenges posed by left wing extremism. My government will take steps to equip the security forces with the latest technology and to improve their working conditions.
40. My Government will carry out reforms in defence procurement to increase efficiency and economy. It will encourage domestic industry, including the private sector; to have a larger share in design and production of defence equipment. We will introduce policies to strengthen technology transfer, including through liberalised FDI in defence production. With readily available skilled human resource, India can emerge as a global platform for defence manufacturing including software, which will strengthen our defence and spur industrial development as well as exports.
41. The country is proud of its Armed Forces. They serve the nation with professionalism, dedication and valour; securing our nation and supporting relief and rescue operations in the wake of disasters and calamities. We will strengthen defence preparedness by modernising our Armed Forces and addressing the shortage of manpower on priority. Recognising the importance of coastal security, my government will set up a National Maritime Authority.
42. My government will do everything to repay the debt of our brave and selfless soldiers. It will appoint a Veterans Commission to address their grievances, so that they know that we don’t stop caring for them when they retire from active service. The government will build a National War Memorial to honour the gallantry of our soldiers. One Rank, One Pension scheme will be implemented.
Honourable Members
43. India’s foreign policy, with its civilizational roots and heritage, is based on the principles of developing peaceful and friendly relations with all countries. We will pursue our international engagement based on enlightened national interest, combining the strength of our values with pragmatism, leading to a doctrine of mutually beneficial relationships. My government is committed to building a strong, self-reliant and self-confident India; regaining its rightful place in the comity of nations.
44. My government sent a unique and bold signal to the South Asian region and the world, by inviting for the first time in independent India, leaders of all South Asian neighbours to the swearing-in ceremony of the new Council of Ministers on May 26. We are grateful to them for accepting the invitation at such a short notice. Their participation, as also the gracious presence of the Prime Minister of Mauritius; not only added sheen to the ceremony, but also represented a celebration of democracy in the region and convergence of our shared hopes and aspirations. This shows my government’s commitment and determination to work towards building a peaceful, stable and economically inter-linked neighbourhood which is essential for the collective development and prosperity of the South Asian Region. We will further work together with South Asian leaders to revitalise SAARC as an effective instrument for regional cooperation and as a united voice on global issues.
45. At the same time, we will never shy away from raising issues of concern to us at a bilateral level. We emphasize that the future of shared prosperity can only be built on the foundation of stability in the region, which requires sensitivity to security concerns and an end to export of terrorism to neighbours.
46. My Government will engage energetically with other neighbours in our region, including China, with whom we will work to further develop our Strategic and Cooperative Partnership. We will strive to make progress in the many initiatives that are ongoing with Japan, especially in the field of building modern infrastructure in our country. Russia remains a privileged and strategic partner and my government will build further on the firm foundations of this relationship.
47. India and the United States have made significant progress in developing strategic partnership over the years. My government will bring a renewed vigour to our engagement and intensify it in all areas, including trade, investment, science and technology, energy and education. India also values its broad-based cooperation with Europe. The government will make concerted efforts to achieve progress in key areas with the European Union as well as its leading members.
48. To fully realize our softpower potential; there is a need to integrate it into our external interchange, with particular emphasis on our rich spiritual, cultural and philosophical heritage. The government will revive Brand India riding on our strengths of 5T’s: Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology.
49. Across the world, we have a vibrant, talented and industrious Indian Diaspora that is a source of great pride for us. They have done pioneering work in diverse fields, held the highest public offices and have worked hard to support their localities and families in India. While they have contributed immensely to their adopted country, they also carry a little flame of India in their hearts that can light up the promise of change in our country. A hundred years ago, in 1915, India’s greatest Pravasi Bharatiya, Mahatma Gandhi, returned home and transformed the nation’s destiny. The next Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in January 2015 will thus be a special occasion. As we celebrate the centenary of Gandhiji’s return to India, we would also take steps that would deepen every Pravasi Bharatiya’s connection with India and involve them in India’s development.
Honourable Members
50. The people of India have given a clear mandate. They want to see a vibrant, dynamic and prosperous India. They want to see a resurgent India regaining the admiration and respect of the international community. Brimming with hope and expectation, they want quick results. With three Ds of Democracy, Demography and Demand on our side, India is poised to actualize these aspirations. We must rise to the occasion to fulfill these great expectations. In 60 months from now, we should be able to say with confidence and pride that we have done it.