Just as the organizers had advertised, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public interaction with the Indian diaspora at Ricoh Coliseum here on Wednesday had all the trappings of a rockstar concert as Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singh, Shiamak Davar troupe and other groups set the tone for the evening.
The nearly 10,000-strong audience interrupted Modi repeatedly during his hour-long speech with shouts of “Modi, Modi…” as the prime minister spoke about the changes sweeping India.
Speaking in Hindi in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet colleagues, Modi repeatedly stressed, “Sarkar naahi badli, jan manas badla hai dus mahine main (It is not that the government has changed, but it’s people’s thinking that has changed during the last 10 months)”.
In the new atmosphere, Modi said, people were responding with enthusiasm to new ideas whether it was his Clean India Mission, or bank accounts for the poor or gas subsidy.
Modi said celebrities joined the Clean India Mission on their own, poor people deposited Rs.14,000 crore in their newly opened accounts and rich people are giving up their gas subsidy so that the poor can be helped. “Modi has done nothing…it is the common man in India who has changed,” the prime minister said.
There were rounds of cheers every time he took a dig at the previous regime.
But the prime minister drew the biggest applause when he said his mission is “Skill India while theirs was Scam India”.
People cheered him when the PM, while referring to his mission to clean India and root out corruption, said in Hindi, “Jinhone gandgi karni thee, woh kar ke chale gaye. Lekin hum safai kar ke jayenge (Those who created scams and dirt have now gone, we will clean up the mess”.
Modi said his government was working on his four-pronged dream symbolizing the four colours in the Indian flag – saffron, white, green and blue (the colour of the Ashok Chakra in the flag). “Saffron means energy (revolution, white means the second white (nilk) revolution, green means the second green revolution and blue means clear blue sky through new manufacturing process which don’t impact the environment,” Modi said.
The prime minister wondered why the likes of Google and Microsoft cannot be created in India when Indian IT specialists are playing an important role in these tech giants. “We have undertaken to promote innovation in India through the Atal Innovation Mission and skill development through our Skill India mission,” he said.
Modi said the two biggest achievements of his visits to France and Canada were the signing of a deal in France for manufacturing nuclear reactors in India and the supply of uranium from Canada. “These two agreements will help India become a big contributor to clean energy in the world.”
Modi, on the last leg of his three-nation tour, thanked his Canadian counterpart for his hospitality. “Today, we started a new era of cooperation between our two countries and it will last very long. Canada has all the resources India needs.”
Lauding the Indian diaspora in Canada, Modi urged them to contribute to their ancestral land. The OCI and PIO cards have been merged and the new OCI card will be for life and available to people of Indian origin up to their fourth generation, the prime minister said.
Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced Modi to the gathering. “Under your leadership, Canada feels closer to India than any time before,” Harper said.
“We had extended a hand of friendship (to Modi) long before others,” the Canadian leader said, referring to Canada’s participation in the annual Vibrant Gujarat summit launched by Modi as chief minister in 2003.