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India will ensure equality of citizen, faith, culture: Modi

Prime Minister said in Paris that a digital India will create a participative and transparent government

IANS  |  Paris 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of the centenary commemoration of World War I, in New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the India government will ensure that every citizen, faith, culture and creed has an equal place in society.

"We shall judge our (India's) progress not just by the cold statistics of growth, but by the warm glow of belief and hope on human faces," Modi said while addressing a gathering at the Unesco headquarters here.

"For me, it means many things. We will defend and protect the rights and liberty of every citizen. We will ensure that every citizen, of every faith, culture and creed has an equal place in our society; belief in her future; and the confidence to pursue it."

Modi said that a digital India will create a participative and transparent government.

"Our digital India will create a participative, transparent and a responsive government connected to our citizens," he said.

To meet its goals, the prime minister said India needed the power of science more than just policies and resources.

"For us,science is driven by the larger purpose of human development; and, for a safe, sustainable, prosperous future for India," Modi said.

"Science also unites people across borders in a shared purpose."

Stating that India never forgets the help it has received in its early years, he said that "today, we are fulfilling our responsibility to others".

"Therefore, science is a key priority of India's international engagement."

The prime minister also lauded Unesco's initiatives to preserve the world's cultural heritage.

"Unesco's initiatives to preserve the world's cultural heritage, including in India, are inspiring," he said.

"We see India's rich and diverse cultural heritage as humanity's wealth. And,we will do everything to preserve it for future generations."

He also referred to initiatives of his government -- Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) to preserve the cultural heritage of Indian cities and Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) for rejuvenation of India's centres of pilgrimage.

Speaking about the challenges faced by the world, he said that "the threats are changing from domination by states to destruction by groups".

"We fight today not only over what we claim, but also for who we are. And, in many parts of the world, culture remains a source of conflict," the prime minister said.

Referring to the Ebola disease that has affected western Africa, he said, "Diseases still defeat our most courageous fight, we understand how fragile we are."

"When we see people living at the edge of existence; children shut out of classrooms; and, nations without the human resources to shoulder the responsibility of progress, we know that we still have a long way to go," Modi stated.

He called for collective human action to address the pressing global challenge of climate change.

"We have, for example, set a target of adding 175,000 MW of clean and renewable energy in the next seven years," the prime minister stated.

"Too often, our discussion is reduced to an argument about emission cuts. But, we are more likely to succeed if we offer affordable solutions, not simply impose choices."

He also referred to the UN last year declaring June 21 International Yoga Day.

"Yoga awakens a sense of oneness and harmony with self, society and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change and create a more balanced world," he said.

Prior to his address, Modi paid tribute to a statue of Indian philosopher and sage, Sri Aurobindo in the Unesco headquarters.

"There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on freedom, diversity of civilizations and autonomy of culture," he said at the end of his speech.

Modi was earlier welcomed at the headquarters of the world organisation by its Director-General Irina Bokova.

First Published: Fri, April 10 2015. 18:26 IST