Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday gave a clarion call to all neighbouring and countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" to remove poverty from the region, leaving behind the world of death and killings.
In his address to the country from the ramparts of the Red Fort on occasion of the 68th Independence Day, Modi said he wants India to emerge stronger as a country so that it can contribute significantly to the betterment of the world.
Identifying poverty as a common challenge for all SAARC countries, he said the member countries must wage a war against it to improve the lives of their people.
"India will extend full cooperation to SAARC and also seek the same from it to wage war against poverty," Modi said.
"Why can't the SAARC friends jointly come up with a policy to fight poverty? We should fight together and defeat it. Let us try it once leaving behind the world of death and killings (marna-maarna) and feel the joy of life".
He said the strength of the saviour is much more than the strength of the person who kills. "Let’s unite to fight poverty".
Recalling the freedom struggle, the Prime Minister said the same zeal should be adopted in dealing effectively with the challenge of poverty.
"We should fight like we did for independence. We fought together. We were not separated then. Which government was with us? What kind of weapons did we have? There was one Gandhi, one Sardar and lakhs of independent fighters," he said.
Modi stressed that despite all the inadequacies, "such a big empire" was defeated and foreign powers were forced to leave the country.
Modi said that there are many facets to a foreign policy but he wants to concentrate on cooperation between SAARC countries against poverty.
He said together the SAARC countries can create its own stature in the world and emerge as a "power".
He recalled his visit to Bhutan and Nepal and said that the coming of SAARC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony was an auspicious start for dealing with the challenges unitedly.
"And hence, good results will come out for sure," he said adding that he wants an India to contribute to the betterment of the world.
"I will try hard to fulfil these dreams," Modi said in his maiden address from the ramparts of Red Fort.