Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday lashed out at the self professed cow vigilantes who, he said, indulged in anti-social activity by night and turned gau rakshaks by day.
In his first ever Town Hall-style address in New Delhi to mark the second anniversary of the government's MyGov digital platform initiative, Modi urged state governments to prepare a dossier on these self-styled gau rakshaks.
“I get so angry about this,” the prime minister said, breaking his silence on a subject that was in a way affecting the image of his government. More cows die eating plastic than are slaughtered, he said, recalling that in the course of a cow health camp in Gujarat, two buckets of plastic were discovered in the stomach of one cow. Modi suggested that the cow vigilantes fight this if they genuinely want to protect the animal.
During the curated Town Hall event, young men and women, who had won in competitions and contributed to the MyGov platform, were awarded a photo opp with the prime minister, besides certificates.
The questions to Modi covered a wide range of topics including economy, healthcare, farmers' issues and foreign policy.
An Indian entrepreneur from Silicon Valley wanted to know how the prime minister flew from Mexico to New Delhi and went straight to a meeting while and an NRI environmentalist from Zurich asked him how people could contribute to India’s development.
Modi confessed that many had been for long years curious about his energy. “It is wrong arithmetic,” he said, with regard to his energy. “It is wrong to think that I have that much of energy and so I do much work. If we think of the work that we have to do, and the fact that we have to do it in a mission mode, the energy comes automatically,” he explained.
The prime minister came out with several simple suggestions to boost tourism. Every person of Indian origin among the diaspora should vow to send five non-Indians to India, he said, expressing the view that it is only the ancient heritage that was unique to India and had the potential of attracting tourists.
“Tourists won't come for our beaches…there are much better beaches in their countries,” he said before throwing up the idea of food tourism. “We have such a variety of food. If it is properly marketed, the world will go crazy,” Modi said.
The prime minister lamented the fact that people vote a party and then treat it as if they have given them a five year contract to work. If they are not satisfied, they get another contractor five years later. “Without people’s participation, the spirit of democracy will not be there. Participatory democracy is what we want,” he said, giving the example of Swach Bharat Abhiyan which, he said, was progressing because of people’s participation.
“It is true that in politics, after winning elections, the government thinks about how to win the next elections, how to increase the voter base. Governance takes a hit after a bit,” he said. Responsibility with accountability is essential. The last mile delivery is as important as the policies and decisions are, and this needs participation of people, Modi said calling for a balance between good governance and politics.
The Town Hall gave the prime minister an opportunity to share his views on his own position. Regardless of whether an issue is pertaining to a Panchayat, a Nagar Paalika or a Zila Parishad or a state, people want the PM to answer. “Politically it’s ok, it’s ok for TRPs. In a democracy, the prime minister has to face this. But people must ask those in the Panchayats, the Nagar Palikas ..people who are responsible should be questioned, not anyone else; those who are responsible must be made accountable”.
Modi said one of the most important aspects of good governance in a democracy was easy grievance redressal system. “I would like to hear the grievance, find solution and even handhold the person with the grievance if necessary,” the prime minister said.
On a question about smart villages, Modi said the Rurban Mission of the government was aimed at maintaining the soul of the village with the facilities of the urban, making it a Smart Cities+ mission, a very transformative one in his view.
On the eve of Handloom Day on Sunday, Modi urged people to buy handloom clothes and said it would transform the lives of weavers. “Khadi for nation and Kashi for fashion,” was his mantra.
Talking of the nature of his foreign policy, he said it intended to strategically protect India and her growth. “It is India First”, he said.