Narendra Modi in London: At Bharat ki Baat, PM discusses surgical strikes, Pakistan, Kathua case and democracy

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi spoke in London Wednesday night in connection with the Kathua and Unnao rape horrors without mentioning either by name, saying nothing could be worse than the rape of a girl child and this is not the time compare metrics on rape cases between two governments.

"When a child is raped, what could be worse? Is that the time to compare to metrics versus the earlier governments? When a girl comes home late, all parents are worried. When a boy goes out and comes home late, why don't we ask him where he was? We must make our men accountable. Look...I have lived the life of a poor man, I don't need to learn about it from a book and I know how tough that life is. Nothing is more important to me than to make our country safer, cleaner....", Modi told a massive crowd assembled for his #BharatKiBaat address in London's Westminster Central Hall Wednesday night.

Modi is in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Meeting this week.

India has been rocked by protests after chilling details have emerged of a child's rape, torture and murder in Kathua, Kashmir and the complicity of powerbrokers in yet another rape case in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. Together, both the cases have raised public anxiety over safety in India's public square.

Narendra Modi in London: At Bharat ki Baat, PM discusses surgical strikes, Pakistan, Kathua case and democracy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his British counterpart Theresa May. Twitter @MEAIndia

Asked about his silence on thorny issues, for which Modi has come under intense pressure, India's prime minister chose to respond by explaining how he distinguishes between criticism and allegation. "Criticism is the bedrock of democracy but criticism takes time and research and fact checking. Who has the time for that nowadays? Allegations are the new form of criticism. That is something we must all be wary of", Modi said. Here too, he did not mention Unnao, Kathua or any opposition party by name.

"They fling stones at me, I use those same stones to make a stairway for myself and keep moving forward", Modi said, quoting lines from a poem he wrote.

Dressed in a dark bandhgala and sporting a printed pocket square, Modi spoke in chaste Hindi sprinkled with the occasional Sanskrit couplet and took questions from moderator Prasoon Joshi and the audience in a fireside setting. Modi waded into politics, women’s safety, Swachh Bharat, surgical strikes against Pakistan and India’s place in the world during the Wednesday night talkathon.

Drawing from his years as Gujarat’s longest serving chief minister and his early life, weaving tales from myth, legend, Hindu scriptures and the life of a commoner, Modi the orator kept his audience in thrall for well over two hours.

 

Top quotes from Narendra Modi’s address to Indian diaspora in London:

"We called them (Pakistan) and told them about the surgical strikes, we have nothing to hide"

"Before the media got there, before my fellow countrymen woke up to the news, we informed them ( Pakistan). We called, they were afraid to pick up the phone. We informed them what we had done, we told them to get rid of the corpses they would find. We did our job. We did not hide anything. I will not tolerate anyone stabbing us in the back and making a business out of terror. In our entire history, we have never tried to grab land from anyone else. We must remain vigilant, we must remain victorious at all times. But if someone's made a business out of terrorism, they must remember that my name is (Narendra) Modi, I know how to hit back."

"I have been so poor and endured so many difficulties that power and riches don't affect me"

"When I was Gujarat chief minister, I used to get these wonderful gifts at various events - sometimes a silver sword, often beautiful paintings. Wouldn't anyone want to keep these in their homes? Not me. I auctioned them away and soon enough we had Rs 100 crore with which we created a fund for the education of the girl child. That is my life, I have been so poor that these riches don't affect me."

"India has arrived on the world stage"
“This is not like the old times, when all was good and great, when India and all the other countries are all on the same platform. No. This is a time when we must stand for what is best about us and say it loudly and with confidence from the highest mountain. Who stopped us from going to Israel? I went. If it is necessary for our country, I will go to Iran too. Saudi Arabia is right next door, it is not even a four hour flight. I will go wherever we must to secure India's interests.”

"If India has a million problems, we have a billion solutions”
"I'm just an ordinary man like you. Think of me like one of you. The position I occupy is about work. I am a lifelong student. My equity is the support of a billion Indians. I may make mistakes but I will never do it with the wrong intentions. I have been Gujarat's longest serving chief minister. I have never done and will never do anything with the wrong intention. I never though I could change the country. But I believe fervently that if there are a million problems in India, we have a billion solutions. That is where I draw my strength from.”

"Real criticism takes effort and research, allegations are easy"
"I am not worried about criticism. Please criticise because that keeps us alert and aware. But criticism has been degraded to become allegations now. People do not do the research necessary to be able to criticise in a robust way. People say I don’t respond to criticism but that’s because I give credence to criticism. I go deep, I try to understand what’s really going on. That takes time.”

"I'm on a special diet...I eat 20 kg of barbs everyday"
"Responding to an audience question on how he stays fit, Modi replies: "For the last 20 years, I've been on a special diet. I take 20 kg or 30 kg of criticism daily. That's the secret of my fitness," Modi said sparking many rounds of laughter in Westminster's Central Hall in London.

"Yes, I'm restless and impatient for progress and I'm proud of that"
The moment you become satisfied, life does not move forward. In every age, in every situation, we must strive to keep do something new. That must be the force driving us. If someone says that impatience is not a virtue, they're probably old."

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Updated Date: Apr 19, 2018 07:59:58 IST

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