Navsari (Gujarat), Sep 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marking his 66th birthday on Saturday in the presence of over 11,000 disabled people at a function creating two world records, asked if any of his dozen predecessors had ever marked an occasion like this.
“I am lucky to celebrate this day with so many divyangs (people with disability). Did any Prime Minister ever do this?” asked Modi in Gujarati to the massive crowd made up mostly of Gujarati-speaking people.
The Prime Minister’s birthday in the agricultural city of South Gujarat marked world records of most number of people fitted with hearing aids and people with disability provided kits and a logo formation through wheelchairs.
Before coming to Navsari, Modi also announced six water supply projects worth Rs 1,757 crore and four lift irrigation projects worth Rs 2,000 crore under the Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna, for the districts lying in the state’s forest belt at a function in Limkheda in Dahod district.
He also donated 66 cows to the families of persons with disabilities and congratulated people of Navsari for adopting 20,000 disabled persons.
Saying that he was blessed to be amidst the disabled, Modi said: “Previous governments only held 57 camps for divyangs while we held 4,000 in only two years.”
Asking people not to pity the disabled, the Prime Minister announced a universal syllabus in sign language that would be the same for all the regions.
“Like people here can’t understand Tamil, sign languages are different in different regions. We had started a programme of a universal sign language, so it would be common for all.
“Don’t pity divyangs, they have self respect, they deserve equality,” he said, adding that people also need to change their views on the girl child.
Modi also interacted with some mentally-challenged children, while 11,232 disabled people received wheelchairs, tri-cycles, smart sticks, smartphones, laptops with special software for mentally challenged people, Braille scripts, callipers aid and other tools and scholarships, marking three world records.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani meanwhile announced special lifts in government offices in the four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodra and Rajkot.
He also announced that all the streetlights of Gujarat would be converted to LEDs within the next five months. Rupani added that an annual sports tournament would be held in the state.
Speaking of the Clean India campaign, Modi said that no previous government had ever made an attempt to revolutionise the bid for cleanliness.
“Did any one ever do such a revolution for cleanliness? Media has helped a lot in spreading the awareness, and today if an old person throws garbage in the open, then their grandchildren ask them not to do so as Modi dada has said,” he said.
Adding that the world has expectations from India, the Prime Minster said that the days of “tardiness” are over.
Priests from Swami Narayan trust also attended the function and gave their blessings to Modi, who recalled his early days spent in Navsari as an RSS pracharak.
(Kushagra Dixit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)