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Home / Politics / News /  Narendra Modi pushes for dialogue, breaking language barriers and New India

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had perhaps his biggest setback in the recent national election in Kerala, where the Bharatiya Janata Party drew a blank despite being on a roller-coaster ride across the country. State BJP leaders have often accused regional media houses of unjustly attacking the right-wing party and language barriers of its Hindi-speaking national leaders, creating a negative sentiment.

On Friday, when the Prime Minister was invited to inaugurate a conclave by Manorama News, his first such event in Kerala, Modi chose to acknowledge the sentiment and subtly pushed the Malayalees to be more tolerant to himself and his ideas. "My participation in this event has generated a curiosity", Modi said, attending the event from Delhi via video conference.

"Here I am, at a forum where perhaps I do not have many whose thought process is similar to mine but there are enough thinking people whose constructive criticism is something I greatly look forward to," the Prime Minister said.

"Usually, it is believed that public figures prefer to be on forums whose thought process matches with the person’s own world view. Because there is a lot of comfort in being among such people. Of course, I also cherish being among such surroundings, but at the same time, I believe there must be a constant and continuous dialogue between individuals and organisations irrespective of one’s thought process," he added.

"We need not have to agree on everything but there must be enough civility in public life for differing streams to be able to hear each other’s point of view," he said.

The Prime Minister also urged media houses to play the bridge between India's several languages. Incidentally, Kerala's two other dominant parties, the Congress and the communists, have often characterised the BJP as a party of the Hindi-speaking belt, doing politics around the native Malayalam language.

"Language has been exploited by selfish interests to create artificial walls in the country. Today, I have a humble suggestion. Can we not use the power of language to unite? Can media play the role of a bridge and bring people speaking different languages closer?" Modi said.

"We can simply start with publishing one word in 10-12 different languages spoken across the country. In a year, a person can learn over 300 new words in different languages. Once a person learns another Indian language, he will come to know the commonality and appreciate the oneness in Indian culture. This can also give rise to groups of people interested in learning different languages."

The conclave's main theme was one of Modi's pet topics — New India. "Our vision for New India includes not only caring for those living in the nation but outside as well," Modi said.

"For many years, a culture was perpetrated in which aspiration became a bad word. Doors opened depending on your surname or contacts. Success depended on whether you belonged to an Old Boy’s club. Big cities, big institutions and big families… this is all that mattered," he said.

"This (New India) is an India where surnames do not matter. What matters is their ability to make their own names. This is an India where corruption is never an option, whoever the person is. Only competence is the norm," he added.

"At the core of the New India spirit are individual aspirations, collective endeavours and a spirit of ownership for national progress."

In a tweet, Congress MP from Kerala Shashi Tharoor said Modi's welcome of constructive criticism will be put to test by the Opposition. The BJP was actually launching a charm offensive in the conclave towards its critics in the Malayalam media, he added.

"This #manoramanewsconclave is witnessing a major charm offensive by theBJP towards its critics,esp in the Malayalam media. Again, this will be tested!" he tweeted.

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