A fresh start
New Delhi, Nov 20: On Guru Nanak Gurpurab, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, who is the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh guru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the country announced that the farm bills would be repealed.
With true statesmanship, Modi made the decision keeping in mind the best interests of the nation, and above all, the unity and integrity of India. Although the bills were framed in the best interest of small farmers, who constitute the majority of the country's agrarian population, a small but vociferous section had vehemently opposed the proposed laws, taking to the streets to voice their grievances.
Credible intelligence reports indicated that Pakistan-based Inter-Services Intelligence supported networks sought to leverage the protests as an opportunity to destabilize India.
The Prime Minister accepted that, for whatever reason, the government had not been able to convince these groups, and that, without the wholehearted support of the entire country, he would not press the issue. He urged the protesting groups to return home on this auspicious occasion to their families.
In his speech, Modi highlighted the initiatives his government has taken towards raising farmer's income and improving their lives. Market reforms and support to ensure that all farmers, particularly those most vulnerable to market fluctuations, receive remunerative prices for their crops have been particularly successful.
At the same time, the Prime Minister's flagship crop insurance scheme, Fasal Bima Yojana, has contributed to safeguarding the income of farmers, who for centuries have suffered because of the fluctuations of the monsoon rains, Productivity enhancing measures, including micro-irrigation facilities and soil testing reports, have led to an increase in agricultural production.
That the occasion on which Modi chose to address the nation was Guru Nanak Gurpurab is no coincidence. The Prime Minister is particularly sensitive to the feelings of the Sikh community, who, despite their small share in the population, have contributed disproportionately to the country. Recently, at the request of the community, the Kartarpur corridor was reopened by his government.
Modi has spent several years in Punjab at the grassroots, engaging in political work where he developed a close bond with the Sikh community. Later, as the Gujarat Chief Minister, he took a personal interest in several projects of the community, repairing the famous Lakhpat Gurudwara of Kutch that was destroyed in the 2001 earthquake.
As Prime Minister, auspicious Sikh occasions have been marked with great enthusiasm by the Narendra Modi government. Abroad too, the Prime Minister, who has made no secret of his pride in the contributions of India's highly successful diaspora, has been greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by the vibrant SIkh diaspora wherever he goes.
In Afghanistan, facing persecution and genocide at the hands of the Taliban on account of their faith, Sikhs have discovered that there is at least one country they can rely on in times of crisis, and that is their motherland. The Modi government has taken prompt steps to rescue Sikhs from Afghanistan, and safeguard their holy books to protect their dignity.
Thus, showing commendable statesmanship in times of increasing polarization, Prime Minister Modi has, with this remarkable move on Guru Nanak, displayed his commitment towards Sikhs.