In a free-wheeling radio broadcast, his second since he took over as India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi spoke about issues that plague modern-day India. Some, such as black money, have dominated national news in recent weeks. Others — drugs and disabilities for example — rarely, if ever, figure in political discourse.For those of you who couldn’t tune in to that broadcast, or who don’t speak Hindi, here’s Mr. Modi’s speech at a glance.
The federal Government is scouring the globe for billions of dollars of what is being dubbed “black money,” or what has been described as cash stashed away in overseas bank accounts as a way to evade tax.
Bringing Back Black Money
Recently Mr. Modi’s administration handed the Supreme Court a list of 627 Indians – high-profile businessmen and former lawmakers of the rival Congress party, among others — who it said operated foreign bank accounts and should be investigated for wrongdoing. Many, including the former additional solicitor general of India, have criticised the disclosure as politically motivated. Mr. Modi took to the state-run All India Radio to defend his administration’s handling of the matter. “There may be disagreements over our ways and means,” he said. “But my countrymen, as far as I understand and from the knowledge I have, I assure you we’re on the right track,” he added. “Have faith on your chief public servant.”
Keep India Clean
Mr. Modi asked Indians not to litter and to keep the country clean. In October, on the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the prime minister launched a campaign called “Clean India,” which he began by sweeping a dirty street in New Delhi. Soon after, he said, letters began pouring in from railway passengers to parents, detailing their commitment to keep India clean. “Everyone is now thinking, ‘This is my country, I will not live in a dirty country,’” Mr. Modi said.
Push for Good Governance
In a sharp contrast to his predecessors, Mr. Modi articulated a view that often dominates newspaper headlines in India. “Sometimes I feel the people of the country are way ahead; the Government is the one lagging behind.” He went on to emphasise on the need for change in a bureaucracy many consider snail-paced. “I say this with experience: I think it is important for the Government to change how it thinks.”
Help Disabled Children
Mr. Modi outlined efforts to help handicapped children, who were the focus of his first radio talk. Among other initiatives, he said his Government will award scholarships to at least a thousand disabled children who wish to pursue their higher education in technical industries. An amount of 100,000 rupees ($1,628) will also be earmarked for each of the 1,094 federal-run Kendriya Vidyalaya schools for creation of disabled-friendly infrastructure such as ramps and special toilets, Mr. Modi said.
Say No To Drugs
A section of Mr. Modi’s broadcast touched on a topic that’s seldom featured in political speeches here: drugs and addiction. Mr. Modi said a letter he received had requested him to speak about the ill-effects of drugs, something he said visiting “mothers,
sisters” and doctor-friends would often discuss with him. His next radio broadcast, he said, would focus on the loss to India’s economy from drug abuse, and welcomed listeners to write to him about their experiences battling drug addiction.