In the 74th edition which aired on 28th February 2021 of Mann ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again addressed a wide range of subjects from importance of river waters and water conservation, significance of science and innovations, developments in agriculture, wildlife, students and examinations and so on but one of the major takeaways was the discourse on the idea of “Atmanirbhar” and its scope in our everyday life.
Wishing the nation on National Science Day, observed on 28 February, the Prime Minister used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of science and innovation in “Atmanirbhar Bharat” Modi emphasized that the field of science is diverse and not restricted to physics and chemistry. He proposed the mantra of “Lab to Land” He cited various examples of people who have used science and innovation to find solutions to different problems we face as a society. Modi illustrated the example of Chintala Venkat Reddy from Hyderabad, who is the first independent farmer from India to win an International patent and Padm Shri for his contribution in organic farming. He also cited the example of Urgain Phuntsog from Ladakh who is organically growing 20 types of crops at an altitude of 14,000 ft. by using manure left from the previous crop to grow the another, and KamaraJ Bhai Choudhary from Gujarat has developed good quality sahjan seeds at his home. Continuing to speak on the innovations in farming, Modi emphasized how several farmers like Harishchandra from Barabanki in U.P. are growing chia seeds in India, which historically was imported from outside countries. Modi also mentioned Murugesan from Madurai who invented a machine to produce ropes from banana peels.
Modi quoted from a letter of a citizen named Ranjan from Kolkata, who had asked what does it mean to be atma-nirbhar (self-reliant), and remarked that atma-nirbhar was not only a government policy, but a national spirit. Being atma-nirbhar meant deciding one’s fate. Modi completely agreed with this definition. Adding to it, he said that the first condition of being atma-nirbhar is to take pride in indigenous goods, be it is taking pride in the Indian made fighter planes, missiles, tanks, metro rails and Covid-19 vaccine, or the simple clothes, handicrafts, electronic equipment made in India. To elaborate his point, Modi mentioned about Pramod from Bettiah, Bihar, who used to work in a factory making LED bulbs in Delhi, but due to the lockdown, he was struck back home, where he started a small unit himself to produce LED bulbs. Lastly he mentioned about Santosh from Garh Mukteshwar, UP, who started producing carpets based on the ancestral knowledge in his family and thus began a flourishing business during the lockdown.
Through these stories Modi reiterated the importance of taking an action-oriented approach and having the self-belief to make one’s life better. If most people get inspired to take such action to reform their lives, Atmanirbhar ceases to be merely a government policy and becomes a national spirit.