EDISON, NJ (TIP): “We are changing the nation’s face. Our aim is to make India a formidable power in the world. We work honestly to make India a strong, resilient and great nation in the world”, said India’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad. He was speaking at a meet and greet program organized by Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) in his honor at Royal Albert’s Palace in Edison, New Jersey on February 7.
Mr. Jayesh Patel (former President, OFBJP) welcomed the gathering. After the traditional lighting of the lamp and rendition of United States and Indian National anthems, Mr. Krishna Reddy (Treasurer, OFBJP) introduced the honorable minister as a visionary, thinker, writer and an eminent lawyer whose fight against corruption and issues have brought him laurels. He said Mr. Prasad has scaled great heights and is currently managing an important portfolio in PM Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
Addressing a gathering of about 200 that had assembled there Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad said he was happy to be amongst them. He said that he had originally come to participate in the India Day being celebrated at Harvard University where he was the keynote speaker talking on India in Transition, Challenges and Opportunities. Stating that India Day is being celebrated across several universities in US shows the power of India and Indians here.
Characterizing the elevation of Narendra Modi as a defining moment in the history of India, he said that Modi had become the symbol of aspirations and hope of the entire country. Coming from a very poor family background with his father selling tea and mother doing chores in houses to run the family shows us the odds that were stacked against him but he went on to make these obstacles as stepping stones to rise to great heights and become one of the tallest leaders of the world
Mr. Prasad went on to count the achievements of the BJP governments under Mr. Vajpayee and under Mr. Modi.
“We all know that the NDA1 government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee had connected the four corners of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Silchar to Surat. This NDA2 under Modi will be known for Information Highway as the government has taken up the task to connect all the villages in India with its Digital India project.
“In just one and a half years this government, had taken India to great heights in every walk of life. The IMF has predicted that India is bound to grow at 7% plus this year when economies across the world are on a shaky ground. It is the 7th most sought after brand in the world, had moved over 15 places on the corruption index during the period of last one year shows us how well this government is working to meet the aspirations of Indians who had put their confidence on Modi. There is zero corruption in the government now unlike the scams that happened during UPA where the resources of our country were looted by the people in power and then supported with a shameless theory of zero loss. The spectrum auction, coal block auctions that generated huge revenue are an example of that.
“Narendra Modi with his foreign visits had not only generated energy among the NRI’s across the world but had also carved a niche for him among the world’s tallest leaders. During the recent Paris conference, the top leaders of the summit have taken Modi’s input before coming up with a draft resolution on terrorism. This is in stark contrast to the previous governments were no one knew who our PM was. Again, this turnaround happened in just 18 months of time which is mind boggling.
“In just this short span of time this government has touched the lives of the poorest which the governments during the past 60 plus years have failed to do. With its Jan Dhan Yojana, it had opened 20 crore bank accounts for the poor who were kept away from this, Rs. 12 for 2 lakh insurance for accidental death, Crop insurance scheme that would safeguard the interests of farmers by covering 90% of his losses., Mudra bank to fund the entrepreneurs. This government had already completed its poll promise of Banking the Unbanked, Funding the Unfunded and Securing the Unsecured.
“Digital India campaign has increased the connectivity across the entire nation. We have over 40crore Internet connections, 100 crore Mobile Phones and equal number of land lines. 970 million people have Aadhar cards and their bio-metric information is already available. We have become the second highest user base for Facebook, Google and other social media tools. The previous UPA had just laid 358 km of optic fiber but this government had already completed laying 86K km of optical fiber. Energy production is the highest and power cuts are a thing of the past.
“The prime minister” s reference of Imran Khan of Alwar, Rajasthan in his speech in UK for the mobile apps he had developed for the students goes on to speak volumes of how much the PM cares about his country and its people. Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, Startup India, Stand-up India, Sukanya Samruddhi Yojana, Beti Bachao Yojana, Smart cities and many more schemes have Shaken up India like never before and the country is developing at a pace that has never been witnessed earlier. This government is working hard to meet the aspirations of everyone especially Dalits, Tribals, Women, Youth in particular.
“The government under Narendra Modi is working hard not only for the people of India but also for the NRI’s who have left India and settled elsewhere. Our consulates are making sure the NRI’s are supported well and we request NRI’s to actively get involved in national building by interacting with government and by sending their feedback”.
Later Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad answered several questions related to India as part of a Q&A session that was moderated by Mr. Arvind Modini (Co-Convener, OFBJP NJ). Mrs. Jayshree Nair (Volunteer, OFBJP NY) presented the vote of thanks to the sponsors whichincluded Mr. Albert Jasani, of Royal Albert’s Palace, Dr. Naveen Mehta and Atma Singh. Also thanked were, Kaushal Thakkar who provided sound and media. Volunteers who had worked hard to make the program a big success received special mention
TAILPIECE Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad did not sing the Indian National Anthem. There was no movement of his lips. Hope, the minister has not forgotten the national anthem.
- Mr. Jayesh Patel spoke in English. So did Mr. R.P. Singh. This from a party which does not tire of reminding Indians abroad that they must love Hindi which is the national language of India and mother tongue of the majority of Indians.
- Incidentally, the gathering consisted of Indians only. There was nobody from mainstream for whose benefit English needed to be spoken.
- The Minister addressed in a mix of Hindi and English
- There were some tense moments when the Minister, after giving an interview to TV Asia, decided not to speak with the print media waiting to interview him. Prof. Indrajit S Saluja, Chief Editor of The Indian Panorama resented at being “insulted” and said media would not take the insult from the Minister. He told Mr. Prasad that media only carried the message of the government to the public and if the minister thought he had no message to give he was welcome not to speak. But, Prof. Saluja added that it was unfair on the part of the Minister to have kept mediaperons waiting only to tell them that he did not want to speak. However, the Minister was apologetic and spoke with the media. Those who spoke with him included Prof. Indrajit S Saluja, Chief Editor of The Indian Panorama, Mr. Ilayas Qureshi, COO of News India Group, and Ashok Ojha, Reporter for The South Asian Times.
- Of the sponsors listed in the bill only Atma Singh was present. Dr. Navin Mehta was conspicuous by his absence. The FIA was listed as a sponsor. There was no representative of FIA.
- It was a small gathering of fewer than 200 persons, most of whom were seniors. There were hardly a few young persons
- Some young volunteers complained of being ignored in the organization.