No country can progress by erasing its past — PM Modi
GUWAHATI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday claimed that those who were in power after Independence could not understand the significance of places of worship and set a trend of being ashamed of their own culture for political reasons.
Addressing a massive rally in Guwahati after unveiling infrastructure projects worth INR 11,600 crore, Modi said no country can progress by erasing its past.
On the Kamakhya temple corridor project, to be developed by the Centre at a cost of INR 498 crore, he said a huge number of devotees will come to visit the ‘Shakti Peeth’ once it is ready and it will boost the tourism sector of the entire Northeast.
“It will become the gateway to tourism in the Northeast. Despite thousands of years of challenges, pilgrimage sites and temples are the symbols of our culture and how we have stood firm. Many of these symbols, which are part of our strong culture, have become ruins nowadays,” Modi said.
The ‘Kamakhya Divyalok Pariyojana’ will ensure a complete turnaround in the pilgrimage experience to the Shakti shrine, he said.
The PM claimed that those who ran the government for a long time after the Independence could not understand the value and significance of such places of belief and neglected them.
“Due to political benefits, they started a trend of becoming ashamed of their own culture and past. No country can develop by forgetting and wiping out its past, and cutting its roots,” he said.
“However, the situation has changed in the last 10 years,” Modi said, adding the BJP-led ‘double-engine’ government’s policy is that of development and protection of heritage.
He said the government’s focus on the development of heritage has massively benefitted the youth of the country.
“In the last one year, 8.5 crore people visited Kashi, more than 5 crore visited Mahakal Lok in Ujjain and over 19 lakh devotees visited Kedardham. In just 12 days of the consecration of Ram temple, Ayodhya has witnessed over 24 lakh visitors,” the PM said.
The livelihood of even the poorest gets a boost with the increase in the number of pilgrims to such heritage sites, he said.
The PM, who was on a two-day tour to Assam, cited the state as an example and said it was a place where beliefs, spirituality and history are connected with modernity.
He said the projects he unveiled will strengthen connectivity not only in the Northeast, but also the rest of South Asia.
“Today, the youth want to see that Assam and Northeast are developed at par with South Asia. Your dream is Modi’s resolution. Modi will leave no stone unturned to fulfill your dream. This is Modi’s guarantee,” he added.
The PM also said that peace has returned to Assam in the last 10 years, and over 7,000 people have put down arms and returned to the mainstream.
“More than 10 major peace accords have been signed. At one point of time, I worked in Assam for the party. I have seen with my eyes incidents like road blockades and bomb blasts in Guwahati. It is a matter of past now,” he said.
Modi said that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) has been withdrawn from many areas in the state as well as the region, while inter-state border disputes are being resolved.
“A record number of tourists have visited the Northeast in the past decade. We will launch a new scheme for uplifting historical places and that is why we have focussed on tourism in this year’s budget. There is a huge opportunity in Assam and Northeast for that. Northeast is a focus area for the BJP,” he said.
The PM claimed that expenditure for developmental activities in the region has been ramped up by four times in the last 10 years.
He also said that 6,000 km of new national highways were constructed in the last 10 years compared to 10,000 km till 2014.
“This was not done earlier even when the prime minister was elected from Assam,” Modi said without mentioning former PM Manmohan Singh by name who was a Rajya Sabha member from the state.
Noting that poor connectivity in the region where travelling from one district to another took hours in the past, he credited the BJP-led governments at the Center and the state for the all-round development.
The PM stressed on the importance of establishing targets, and asserted that previous governments lacked objectives and failed to work hard as they had set smaller targets for development.
“We have changed this. Numerous roads in the state are set to be upgraded under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation, transforming the Northeast into a trade hub,” he said.
Modi said the projects will boost connectivity, create employment opportunities in the tourism sector and help sporting talents.
He said that earlier IITs and IIMs used to be set up in big cities only, but now such institutes are being built across the country with the total number of medical colleges in Assam increasing to 12 from six earlier.
“Ease of living is the priority of the present government,” he said, noting the building of four crore houses for the poor, supplying tapped water connections, electricity and cooking gas connections, and construction of toilets.
Referring to this year’s budget announcements, Modi said the government has pledged to spend INR 11 lakh crore on infrastructure, while the total infrastructure budget in the 10-year period before 2014 stood at INR 12 lakh crore.
“The goal is to make India the third largest economy in the world. The goal is to make India developed by 2047. In this journey, Assam and Northeast have a huge role to play,” he said.
The PM, who arrived here on Saturday evening, left the state following the public meeting.