Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a virtual address during the closing ceremony of ‘Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam’ on Wednesday, said that India “celebrates its diversities that do not divide but strengthen our bond and relationships”. Modi cautioned that India “faces forces that threaten to break it and place hurdles on the way to its target for 2047”, but added that the nation has the courage to do something new even in the most difficult circumstances.
A government press release said that the Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam was an example of Modi’s ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ vision by celebrating the shared culture and heritage between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. “Today we have the target of India at 2047 (to make India a developed nation). We also have the challenges of the era of slavery and the period of seven decades after that,” Modi said.
He said, “We have to take the country forward, but on the way, there will be forces that will threaten to break us and people to mislead us. But India has the courage to do something new even in the most difficult of circumstances.”
The PM lauded the shared history of Saurashtra and Tamil Nadu, saying it gives “us hope for the same”. He said, “We are a people who celebrate diversity. We celebrate different languages and dialects, different arts and knowledge. There is diversity everywhere – from our faith to our spirituality. Such diversities do not divide us but strengthen our bond and relationships. Because we know that when different streams come together, they merge and create a confluence.”
Giving an example of the confluence of rivers that give birth to events such as Kumbh, Modi said, “We have been enriching these traditions for centuries. It is this power of confluence that is being taken forward in a new form through the Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam,” he said.
“Our heritage will grow as we get to know ourselves better by freeing ourselves of our slave mentality. A celebration like Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam is a fulfilment of the dreams of thousands and lakhs of freedom fighters who sacrificed their life and dreamt of Ek Bharat, Sreshth Bharat”, Modi said.
The PM said that there was a lot in common between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu which were “deliberately kept out of our knowledge”. “The knowledge of the escape of people from Saurashtra to Tamil Nadu during the era of foreign invasion remained limited to some historians. But even before that, there has been a deep relation between these two states since time immemorial,” Modi said.
He said that the cultural unity of Saurashtra and Tamil Nadu is “a stream that has been flowing for thousands of years”. “When Somnath was attacked by foreign invaders, people from Saurashtra escaped to Tamil Nadu to preserve their faith and identity, and the natives of Tamil Nadu accepted them with open hearts and provided them with all facilities to begin a new life,” said Modi.
He said that the event is not limited to the confluence of heritages of Saurashtra and Tamil Nadu. Many such programmes are being organised in different parts of the country. The PM invoked Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar and said that we should put emphasis on “harmony, and not on cultural clash”. “We don’t have to seek distinction, we have to make emotional connections,” he said.