Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving a perfect message to the world, the country and its people across all sections, when he spoke of the need to combine modernity and physical and economic development without losing sight of our spiritual heritage and focus on self-realisation, and elaborated the actual steps in the direction in the last nine years.
The two occasions chosen to highlight each part separately, and then to be seen together, where when PM Modi inaugurated the year-long 200th Jayanti celebrations of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, who fought against evil social practices and removed it through reform, awakening of people and concerted social action and teachings, and left a great example to society to differentiate between the true meaning of religion and the malpractices that may creep in or abound because of misinterpretation, misunderstanding or corruption. Modi emphasised how Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was the inspiration for his own vision to use a moment in the present to reflect on the past to envision and script the future. Speaking about how the Maharishi had given hope to society torn by violence, instability, and differences between sections and created a path of reconciliation, hope and peace, Modi also stressed rightly on how a renewed rigorous revival of the understanding of the true wisdom of the Vedas and a humane interpretation of Hinduism helped eradicate several social evils and created a better social life for all.
Modi also aptly brought in the much needed value of fighting the colonial hangover, just as in the times of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, when an enslaved India had lost its confidence and aura; yet could retain its ties to its cultural and historic roots, despite deep oppression and force to suppress the confidence and propensity to celebrate one’s past rich glorious tradition. The teachings against oppression of women and caste inequalities are of unimpeachable relevance even today, and it was right to acknowledge and stress upon them.
The completion of the integrity of the message happened when the Prime Minister, in a separate function to inaugurate a stretch of India’s longest Expressway that would connect Delhi to Mumbai, which when completed would be over 1,386 km, and hopes to reduce the time taken by road connect the national and financial capital by half, to only 12 hours.
Spirituality without physical, modern, financial and social development has no value and is not desired. The proof that India was ready to pursue both, without one pursuit blinding us to the value of the other, came appropriately at the place when PM Modi opened a 246-km stretch of the green project, in which several new best practices have been brought in, including using accumulated garbage dump to be disposed off in the most environmentally-friendly way by using it as a foundation to fill the road side, water harvesting sites at regular intervals and renewable power to light it.
In the combination of vikas with spirituality, Modi said, lies a foundation for a ‘New India’, which will be created during this Amrit Kaal, the last quarter of the century of Independence. Now it is time that all of India, every individual and every organisation, government or private, pursued these twin goals in unison for a better future.