He was addressing the 90th birthday celebrations of Rev Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan in Pathanamthitta.
New Delhi/Thiruvalla (Kerala): Asserting that the government's guiding light is the Constitution of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government does not discriminate between faith, gender, caste, creed or language and is led by the desire to empower 130 crore Indians.
Addressing the 90th birthday celebrations of Rev Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan in Pathanamthitta of Kerala via video conference, the prime minister said his government has been guided by a long-term vision to make India a growth engine. "We have taken decisions not from comfortable government offices in Delhi but after feedback from people on the ground," he said. "It is this spirit that ensured every Indian has access to a bank account," he said.
Modi said Ayushman Bharat is the "largest healthcare scheme in the world" through which over a crore people have got "quality treatment." "For women, we are ensuring that their health gets due attention via various schemes.And, their career path is not compromised through extension of maternity leave," Modi said.
The prime minister asserted that Government of India does not discriminate between faith, gender, caste, creed or language.
"We are guided by the desire to empower 130 crore Indians and our guiding light is the Constitution of India," he told the gathering. The prime minister said the government had brought the one nation-one ration card scheme to help the poor from wherever they are and for the middle class several initiatives have been introduced to boost the ease of living.
On India's COVID-19 battle, Modi said the country was firmly fighting the pandemic. "Earlier this year, some people had predicted that the impact of the virus in India would be very very severe. But, due to lockdown and many initiatives taken by the government as well as a people driven fight, India is much better placed than many other nations. India's recovery rate is rising," Modi said. India's death per million due to Covid is under 12 while the death rate in Italy was 574 per million,he said.
India was much better placed than many other nations, Modi said and pointed that the figures in the United States, Spain, Britain and France were much higher than India.
Lakhs of villages, home to almost 85 crore people remain almost untouched by the coronavirus, he said.
"The people-driven fight has given good results so far," Modi said, cautioning that people can't let their guards down yet.
"In fact, we have to be even more careful now. Wearing masks, following social distancing, avoiding crowded places remain important," he said.
Pointing out that the coronavirus is not only a physical sickness but a threat to the lives of the people, he said "It also takes our attention to unhealthy lifestyles. A global pandemic implies that humanity as a whole needs healing. Let's do everything possible for further harmony and happiness on our planet."
Modi said the wheels of trade and commerce have to move even as the fight against thepandemic continues.
"At the same time, we have to focus on economic growth and prosperity for 130 crore Indians.The wheels of trade and commerce have to move.Agriculture has to flourish. In the last few weeks, the government of India has addressed both short-term and long-term issues relating to the economy. From the sea to space, from the farms to the factories, people-friendly and growth friendly decisions have been taken," the prime minister said.
Conveying his birthday greetings to the Metropolitan and wishing him long life and best health, Modi said "Dr.Joseph Mar Thoma has devoted his life for the betterment of our society and nation. He has been particularly passionate about removal of poverty and women empowerment."
Modi said the Mar Thoma Church is closely linked with the novel ideals of St Thomas, the apostle of Lord Christ. It is with this spirit of humility that the Mar Thoma Church has worked to bring a positive difference in the lives of fellow Indians, he said. They have done so much in areas such as healthcare and education, he said.
India has always been open to spiritual influence from many sources,the prime minister said, adding that the contributions of St Thomas and the Christian community are deeply valued.
Modi said the church, which has played a role in India's freedom struggle, was in the forefrontworking towards national integration and had fought the emergency.
It has also "worked to bring a positive difference in the lives of our fellow Indians."
"The Mar Thoma Church played a role in India's freedom struggle.The church was at the forefront of working towards national integration.Church fought the Emergency. It is a matter of immense pride that the Mar Thoma Church is firmly rooted in Indian values.The contribution of the Church has also been recognized at the national level," Modi said.
The prime minister said "the Holy Bible talks extensively about togetherness" and urged the church to work together for the advancement of the nation. While the country was moving towards self-reliance, the Mar Thoma Church, in line with its values, will surely "rise to the occasion and play a key role" in India's growth trajectory in the times to come,he said. Various programmes have been scheduled as part of the one-year birthday celebrations.
The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian church is believed to have been founded by St Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. The Thiruvalla headquartered church in Pathanamthitta district is one of the oldest denominations of Christianity. The church has approximately over 1.6 million followers across the globe and has 13 dioceses.