With his government under attack over the Dalit student’s suicide in Hyderabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said his government was committed to the welfare of Dalits, poor and oppressed.
At a function to distribute aides to differently-abled persons in his constituency -- Varanasi, he referred to Dalits but made no mention of the controversy over the suicide of a Dalit research scholar in Hyderabad University over which two of his ministers have come under attack.
“This government is dedicated to the poor -- Dalits, oppressed and deprived and will attempt to do something for those who have to suffer in life. This government is committed to the welfare of the poor and how their lives can be changed and this government has been making constant efforts in this regard,” he said.
Modi said he is under tremendous attack all the time and attempts are made to pitchfork him in into controversies but he would not digress from his path of working for the poor.
“Sometimes it seems the entire world is after me. Since morning I am under attack from all corners. Their attempt is to make Modi digress from his path and make him embroil in controversies.
“But my mantra is to help poor and downtrodden and that is why I remain unfazed. All this is happening as the system is changing and middlemen are being eradicated,” he said.
“The nut bolts are being tightened, shops are being shut and that is why these problems are cropping up. Such people are being bothered but I am not. If I am pained, it is due to the plight of the poor and their problems and not because of the problems of middlemen,” he said.
Calling for a change in mindset towards differently-abled, the prime minister said they should be addressed as “divyang” instead of “viklang” and people should view the special powers God has given to such people instead of their shortcomings.
He also announced starting the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’ to provide facilities to such people in government offices and help make their lives comfortable and if need be some rules may also be changed to enable such things.
Modi announced that every government building henceforth will have facilities like ramps and toilet seats for the differently-abled.
Modi said while people are sympathetic, things are lacking when it comes to facilities be it in trains, buses.
“Slowly, we have to create such facilities like special toilet seats and ramps for them. All government buildings from now on will have such facilities and every department is being sensitised towards such people.
“We will do everything possible for them and where rules and systems have to be changed, we will change them,” he said.
He also said that the result of such camps is that middlemen will get eliminated. “And with middlemen getting eliminated, some people are getting worried,” he said, taking a dig at previous governments wherein from 1992 onwards, less than 100 camps were organised whereas during his government more than 1,800 such camps were held since 2014.
Modi said it was not just the duty of the parents of differently-abled children, but also that of society to take collective responsibility of looking after them.
“That is why our government is taking special care of such children,” he said, adding this will help in building their confidence and abilities.
The prime minister also thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his kind words on Kashi.
“I am grateful to Japan PM Shinzo Abe for his good words about his Kashi visit and his experience of ‘Ganga aarti’ at a speech during a Buddhist movement function. His words will make every Kashi resident and Indian proud,” he said.
The prime minister expressed regret over the road mishap that took place on the outskirts of the city earlier in the day when a bus carrying differently-abled people to the venue overturned.
“I wish a speedy recovery for those who have been injured. Our government will ensure that they get the best possible medical assistance,” he said.
He also personally interacted with children from various parts of the country who overcame disabilities relating to speech and hearing.
Handing over a computer to a child named Rahul, who was suffering from low IQ, the prime minister said he was impressed with his computer skills.
He also lauded many of them who brought laurels to the country by winning at international sports events despite their limitations.
On the occasion, Modi flagged off the Mahamana Express which will cover the distance between Varanasi and New Delhi in less than 14 hours, offer state-of-the-art facilities to passengers and run thrice a week.
British Parliamentarian of Indian origin Lord Raj Loomba and his wife were among those present on the occasion.
Loomba, who gave an emotional speech in Hindi, said a foundation headed by him was involved in rehabilitation of widows and it was looking forward to helping those women of Varanasi who have lost their husbands.
Modi also thanked Lord Loomba and his wife for the good work done by them for widows.
Image: PM Modi interacting with 'Divyang' children during the distribution of aids and assistive devices in Varanasi. Photograph: Press Information Bureau