A powerful ‘New India’ cannot be built if its children are not healthy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said and emphasised that his government has put emphasis on nourishment, vaccination and sanitation to realise the new paradigm.
In his address, at an event in Vrindavan, he also asserted that ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ is the “road to ‘New India'”.
India had faced a long period of colonial rule and abject poverty, and country’s children were the worst hit, he said.
“Just like a solid foundation stone is necessary for constructing a strong building, for a ‘New India’, having nourished and healthy children is also necessary. If childhood gets weakened, then growth will get weakened,” Modi said.
After the event in the main pavilion, where thousands of children, parents and teachers had assembled to hear him speak, the prime minister, served meal to a group of underprivileged schoolchildren and praised the efforts of an NGO towards eradicating hunger from the country.
The event was organised to mark the serving of the 3rd billionth meal by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, a Bengaluru-based NGO which work with the government on mid-day meal scheme.
“Now, in the past 55 months, we have laid emphasis on health, particularly of children and mothers. We have worked with commitment and provided a ‘security cover’ (‘surakhsa kawach’) as far as their health is concerned,” he said.
He added that organisations like Akshaya Patra are helping in “strengthening that security cover”.
Modi said the foundation for healthy ‘New India’ is being laid through nourishment, vaccination and sanitation.
The prime minister also enumerated the achievements of his governments since it assumed office in 2014 and also spelt out the roadmap ahead.
“As part of Mission Indradhanush, 3.4 crore children have been vaccinated. And 90 lakh pregnant woman have also been covered under the scheme. And, the way the program has progressed, the target of reaching complete vaccination does not seem far,” the prime minister said.
Mission Indradhanush is being praised abroad also, he said, adding, a noted medical journal recently also picked it as “one of the world’s 12 best practices”.
Modi said Akshaya Patra’s efforts best illustrate the journey from ‘I’ to ‘We’.
“When ‘I’ becomes ‘We’, then we go beyond ourselves and think about the society. We then expand the horizons of our thinking. ‘We’ gives more importance to our country, our culture than our individual self,” he said.
“The feeling of being ‘We’ is ancient. And, ‘New India’ is only strengthening these cultural values of India,” Modi said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, Akshaya Patra will be given the responsibility to “serve mid-day meals in 10 new districts and to open its kitchens in another 6 new areas”.
He also expressed his appreciation for Akshaya Patra for serving safe, hygienic meals to pilgrims at Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
Praising the NGO, Modi said, “may your faith in serving remains undiminished. ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is the road to ‘New India’.
Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, Akshaya Patra Foundation said, to build ‘Poshit Bharat, Shikshit Bharat,’ (Nourished India, Educated India) it is essential that every child is provided with a nutritious diet, a fulfilling education, and a bright future.
“Civil society joining hands with the government to solve the social problems of this country is very essential for the success of any government scheme in line with the vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, the vision of our Prime Minister,” he said.