New Delhi, May 27 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday paid glowing tributes to Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar in his monthly radio address "Mann Ki Baat" even as he briefly paid respects to independent Indias first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the latters 54th death anniversary.
Modi also urged the people to shun low-grade plastic and imbibe environmental responsibility. He exhorted people of all ages to play traditional sports and games like gulli-danda, pitthoo, fly kites and 'chausar' as they not only make us physically and mentally sharp but also inculcate values in us.
Nehru, also the longest serving Prime Minister of India, passed away on May 27, 1964.
However, Modi chose not to speak much on Nehru and confined himself to just paying respects to the former Prime Minister in one sentence. Modi then quickly moved on to Savarkar, who was born in the month of May.
"Today is May 27, the death anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji. I render my pranam (respects) to Pandit ji," Modi said as he quickly added: "Memories of this month are also linked with Veer Savarkar."
Modi said that it was also in the month of May in 1857 when the Indians rose against the British oppression for the first time.
"It is indeed sad that we kept on calling the events of 1857 only as a rebellion or a soldiers' mutiny for a very long time. It was Veer Savarkar who boldly expostulated by writing that whatever happened in 1857 was not a revolt but was indeed the First War of Independence," Modi said.
He said it was an "amazing coincidence" that the month which witnessed the first struggle for Independence was the month in which Savarkar was born.
"Savarkar ji's personality was full of special qualities. He was a worshipper of both shastra (weapons) and shaastras (knowledge).
"Generally, Savarkar is renowned for his bravery and his struggle against the British Raj. But besides these sterling qualities, he was also a striking poet and a social reformer who always emphasised on goodwill and unity," Modi said.
Born on May 28, 1883, Savarkar -- who remained President of the Hindu Mahasabha -- coined the term 'Hindutva' to create a collective Hindu identity as an essence of the country. He was arrested for his anti-British activities in 1910 and sent to the notorious Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to serve life imprisonment.
However, Savarkar secured his release in 1921 on the condition that he would not work against the colonial government ever after.
Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi said that Savarkar meant "brilliance, sacrifice, penance, substance, logic, youth, an arrow and a sword"
Noting that India will host the global World Environment Day celebrations on June 5, the theme for which will be "Beat Plastic Pollution", Modi said it was an important achievement as the country had a growing role in the world towards mitigating climate change.
Modi urged the listeners to visit the website of World Environment Day and to imbibe and inculcate the suggestions given on it.
Noting that in the past few weeks, parts of the country witnessed dust storms, strong winds and unseasonal heavy rains which led to a loss of lives and damaged goods, he said: "Whenever we face a torrid summer, or floods, incessant rains or unbearable cold, everybody becomes an expert, analysing global warming and climate change. But does empty talk bring about any solutions?
"... these sudden changes in weather pattern are a result of change in our lifestyle. Our culture, our traditions, have never taught us to be at loggerheads with nature."
Exhorting the listeners of all ages to take part in traditional sports such as gulli-danda, kite flying and pitthoo -- known by different names in different parts of the country -- the Prime Minister said that while flying a kite or playing a game, one freely expresses one's inherent unique qualities.
He said that often a shy child leaps up with zest the moment a game begins and even children with a seemingly serious countenance start expressing themselves.
"Traditional sports and games are structured in such a manner that along with physical ability, they enhance our logical thinking, concentration, alertness and energy levels. Games are not just games; they teach us values in life, such as setting targets, building up determination, developing team spirit and fostering mutual cooperation," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that nowadays some training programmes in business management were employing traditional sports and games for the overall personality development and enhance interpersonal skills of the trainees.
"And then, there is no prescribed age limit for participating in them. When we all play these games together then the term 'generation gap' disappears on its own. At the same time, we also come to know about our culture and traditions. Many games also make us aware about our society, environment and other spheres," the Prime Minister said.